CI Ground Research (CIGR)

curated by Aaron Brando with Research Catalysts Ronja Ver & René Alvarez

Programming category: 
March 13, 2016 - 5:00pm - March 17, 2016 - 3:00pm

CIGR Is a week-long artist residency. Advanced improvisation dancers share focused time together steeped in a physical research practice while actively engaging in CI's pedagogical questions. Through four days of self-directed research and inquiry within large and small group formats, as well as open jamming, participants deeply pursue the theme proposed by our Research Catalysts. CIGR culminates as part of Earthdance's Spring Equinox Jam where participants are invited to share the fruits of their research.

As an advanced CI dancer, you should be able to:

  • take weight
  • fall safely from any level
  • follow the point of contact
  • move upside down; be comfortable with disorientation
  • modulate the physical tone of your body in relation to your partner and the demands of the dancing
  • commit to being emotionally clear and present while dancing
  • accept responsibility for your own safety

It is important to the congruency and the safety of the group that all participants are truly confident at this level of practice. It is also important to note the assumptions of physicality in these criteria. We encourage physically challenged participants who are invested in CI to apply.

Tuition, Room & Board (includes the Spring Equinox Jam): $420

Application Instructions
Please note: this event has a history of filling up early

Email cigroundresearch [at] gmail [dot] com with:

  • Your reasons for wanting to participate in CIGR and your thoughts on this year's theme "Unraveling Normal"
  • A description of your previous experience and skill level with CI, dance, performance, improvisation, and teaching. Please include major influences and years/intensity of practice
  • Links to websites and/or videos of your dancing if you have them

Along with your application, please send a $75 deposit (fully refundable if you are not accepted) either by Paypal or check.

Paypal instructions:
Log into your account, click on “pay or send money” for “goods or services”, and send $75 deposit to paypal [at] cigroundresearch [dot] com.

Check instructions:
Make a check out to "Aaron Brando" and send to 12 Cherry St, Northampton, MA 01060.

This Year’s Thematic Content: Unraveling Normal
This is an invitation to rigorously challenge ourselves to expand our awareness within and around the dance form we love. What is normal for you? What are the areas you don’t like to think about? Where do you draw the boundary between CI and something else? Why are we triggered, what is it that makes us feel protective? Let’s look at the places of discomfort, not turn away, allow the unfamiliarity of being with the questions to teach us.

We are all tangled up in assumptions of ”normal,” the unspoken cultures around CI, the aesthetics, the duet form, the ways our dancing reflects the structures of oppression in our society, and the denial that enables those structures to still stand today. We are tangled up in our personal habits and patterns, and our habits and patterns around breaking those habits. Unraveling normal is an invitation to look at how we are inhibiting our vision of what is possible. We will be working with documenting our dances and our processes, in writing and wording the experiences from our bodies. 

Ronja Ver

Ronja Ver is a dancer and dance maker, teacher, mother, activist, and lifetime student of performance as meaning-making. Her choreographic work addresses current issues through movement, sound, and awkward audience participation; technical but unpolished, often working with extreme physical states to invite a visceral, nonverbal place of relating. She has performed extensively in Europe and in the United States, most recently with Sara Shelton Mann, Risa Jaroslow, and Scott Wells in San Francisco, and Nancy Stark Smith and Mike Vargas in New York City. Previous posts include the National Theater of Finland and Riitta Vainio Dance Company, and she is proud to be featured on Steve Paxton’s dvd Material for the Spine. She is continually inspired by the art and practice of Contact Improvisation, and has taught both intensives and classes at several international festivals including SFDI, wcciJAM, Skiing On Skin, and Freiburg. She holds an MFA in Dance from Hollins University/ADF.


René Alvarez

René Alvarez (Oakland, CA) once a recreational slam dancer, rediscovered love for dance upon moving to San Francisco in 1999. René trained and performed as a fire dancer while living with the Infinite Kaos collective in their warehouse event space. René began to study Contact Improvisation (CI) in 2000 at the 848 community space, and would eventually transition to focus on CI as a primary movement form. René is a teacher and organizer for the West Coast Contact Improvisation JAM, and has presented at the Sierra Contact Festival, participated in CI Ground Research at Earthdance, and co-hosted both the Moab Jam and the 4th of July Jam at Earthdance. René has 17 consecutive years of participation in the Burning Man Project, and teaches classes and stewards the Center Camp Jam with Camp Contact. René is the founder of InterKinected LLC whose mission is to investigate and promote Contact Improvisation through organizations and sponsorship of classes, jams, festivals, intensives, laboratories, films, and showings. René regularly teaches the Tuesday pre-jam class at CounterPulse (San Francisco), and the pre-Ecstatic Dance class (Oakland). René organizes and often teaches both the Thursday and Saturday pre-jam classes in Berkeley.


Aaron Brando

Aaron Brando holds a Masters Degree in Education and loves the art of crafting pedagogy in a non-codified system such as CI. Brando teaches CI in the US and internationally. He serves on the Board of Directors for Earthdance. Brando has been instrumental in creating the event CI Ground Research which encourages the ongoing research of Contact Improvisation by dancers from around the world. Brando trained with Tom Myers at the KMI Institute and is a certified Fascial Bodywork/Structural Integration practitioner. He served a two-year residence at the Kripalu Center for Yoga, is a certified Yoga teacher, and has a 20-year history with Vipassana Meditation.

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