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It starts with a handshake. 

From Lab to Jam

How can contact Improvisation be used to tell personal stories, and how can we infuse our humanity into our dance? Weaving in and out of episodes of our lives, we explore pure and abstract contact flow on physical, psychological and emotional planes. Can we develop a whole story, a conversation that begins with simply reaching out to shake the hand of a stranger, seeking the connection of our dance to the fascinating personal encounters of our daily lives? This workshop aims towards an enhanced understanding of the potential of touch and trust. Of touching and being touched by someone else, while “donating an important aspect of yourself and trusting someone else to manage it for you” (Steve Paxton 2018). Let’s think beyond what happens if a partner is unwilling or unable to say “yes”. How does one continue? Is it possible to introduce a different vocabulary for developing movement patterns that go away from conventional acceptance of impulses offered? That challenges our linear understanding and practice of contact improvisation? Starting with the simple handshake, the physical point of entry. Then progressing from a safe space to a brave space. Interpreting the touch impulse of the other, not only as an indication of where to go, but also as an invitation to be allowed to choose otherwise, reflecting authentic human dialogue, building from simplicity to virtuosity.

Darrel Toulon 


Born in Dominica (Caribbean) in 1964 and moved to Europe at age 17. He has been teaching and using CI as a composition tool for the past quarter-century in diverse global locations. His current research is about creating conversation platforms for the silenced and under-privileged, to engage and include audiences in shared performance spaces with professional dancers, actors and singers as well as everyday experts. He concentrates on developing trans-disciplinary projects at the intersection of performance art, politically relevant theatre and academic research, working with marginalized populations particularly in Bosnia and Uganda, since 2018. Darrel is Founder and Artistic Director of the alpha group (Austria) and teaches Dance Arts at the Anton Bruckner Private University in Linz. He is frequently invited to give lectures on his work with vulnerable populations, and organizes conferences and workshops, which bring together experts from the disciplines of dance, psychology, politics and contemporary history. Darrel Toulon was awarded the First Austrian Dance Production Special Prize (2002) for successfully modernizing the dance company of Opera Graz, where he was Ballet Director from 2001 until 2015. He was Jury member for several international choreographic competitions. He was awarded the Styrian Golden Cross of Honour in 2016.
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