Queering the Jam: Unfolding the story of gender in our dancing

In the story of CI, Steve Paxton created a dance about physics and connection.  Gender played no role.  Any one could dance in any way.  And yet we bring our whole selves to our dancing. We bring who we want to be, and who we were taught to be.  We encounter what others expect us to be.  Gender creeps in…   And that’s not necessarily bad.  We can play with gender in CI, stretching and subverting its norms, delighting in its many qualities, stepping outside our daily identities.   But we also can dance out ideas that we don’t necessarily believe in, deeply buried ideas that come out in ways that limit our dancing or that of those around us.

  • How is gender embedded in your dancing?
  • Where do you encounter gendered behavior or ideas in your movement and your relationship to others?
  • Where do your embodied ideas about gender expand or limit your possibilities (both on and off the dance floor)?
  • How can contact improvisation allow a safe space for exploration beyond the confines of the gender you were raised to inhabit?
  • Does your gender expression change depending on who you are dancing with?
  • Do you place different expectations on other dancers based on your perception of their gender (or sex, or sexuality)?

Let’s explore together and may this unearthing of stories create more freedom in our dancing!


Kristin Horrigan has been questioning gender for 20 years and dancing contact improvisation for nearly as long.  The two explorations have been deeply bound together.  For the past several years, Kristin has been creating spaces to help CI dancers unpack what conscious and unconscious ideas about gender live in their bodies and come out to play in their dancing.  These workshops drawing on her work as a professor of Dance and Gender studies at Marlboro College in Vermont and as a long time teacher of contact improvisation.  Kristin will be teaching a version of this same workshop at Tanzfabrik in Berlin later in July.