CONTACT CONVERSATION: Working with the Vulnerable

Especially when dealing with the vulnerable, I have become sensitized to understanding
some of the challenges these individuals face, which in turn helps me to enter their space to
begin the work.
What we sometimes take for granted – people moving together, bodies touching and
connecting, sharing centres of gravity – can be new, and terrifying for some of these
A series of hurdles need to be overcome to progress to dance that involves being moved by
another’s impulse, inviting a stranger into your personal space, and to take it even further
with the partner-work inherent in contact improvisation.
An ongoing question is: how can inhibited persons discover and safely enjoy this with
emotional and physical sense of balance?
In this intensive let’s practice Contact Conversation: let’s talk about reaching out to the
people who are not able to let themselves go, or to let someone else in.
Is it possible to introduce a non-binary vocabulary for developing movement dialogue flows
that include “no” and “yes” in combination with other indicators for where next we may
take the movement?
Let’s generate and improvise with movement patterns that flow away from conventional
acceptance of impulses offered, and that challenge our linear understanding of contact
improvisation when the conversation turns in surprising non-expected ways.

Darrel Toulon
Darrel Toulon was 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
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.