University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Introduction to Contact Improvisation

LEVEL 00 - Mod Pre-Tert, Foundation, Proficiency & DegreePlus

ECTS CREDITS Not Applicable

DEPARTMENT Degree Plus Programme

DESCRIPTION This unit is for students who wish to develop their skills of working with the body and with others through partnering. Groups will not be larger than 20 students, to make small group work more feasible. Verbal reflection at points throughout the sessions will assist the tutor in tailoring the sessions to the specific interests of participants. Contact improvisation (CI) is an experimental movement practice and a dance form. Often called an 'art-sport', it is an open-ended physical dialogue in which dancers explore kinesthetic possibilities of moving through contact, by responding to a partner's touch, direction and momentum. CI originated in the USA in the 1970s, influenced by post-modern dance, martial arts and meditation, and is now practiced around the world. CI classes teach skills of weight-sharing, counterbalancing, and falling, in order to develop a relaxed body awareness and confidence in moving.

Contact improvisation develops reflexes, sensitivity, coordination and creativity through a practical study of physics. Founder Steve Paxton has said, 'the improvised dance form is based on the communication between two moving bodies that are in physical contact and their combined relationship to the physical laws that govern their motion – gravity, momentum, inertia'. CI practice has benefits for health and well-being, and can be of interest to students in any area of study, including medicine, sport and the arts.

Learning Objectives:

• To introduce students to the dance form contact improvisation, and the importance of ease, fluidity and choice in the execution of movements in everyday life and partnering situations;
• To enhance students’ awareness of the body, anatomical design and the senses as resources for functional and creative movement through contact;
• To provide opportunities to be playful, curious and experimental in approaches to physical work with the body and with touch, in both practice and reflection;
• To provide an introduction to the basic skills of this internationally practiced dance form: body awareness, sharing of weight, active/passive motion, leading/following roles, counterbalances, movement without tension, bodywork, and use of structural support for jumping and flying.


In keeping with the spirit of Degree Plus, there is no formal assessment associated with the unit. A certificate of attendance and of satisfactory completion of the unit will be provided at the end of the semester.

Note: Degree plus units are not designed to be incrementally burdensome in terms of the many academic demands placed on students during their undergraduate years.

Unit Material:

Appropriate unit material will be provided by the tutors during the sessions. There are no set texts for the unit, though tutors may recommend appropriate manuals to students who would like to take their work in this area further.

ADDITIONAL NOTES This unit may not be offered if there are an insufficient number of applicants.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Practical and Workshop

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Attendance No 100%

LECTURER/S Joseph Noel Grima (Co-ord.)

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.

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