Contact Improvisation

Margaret Fisher and Curt Siddall perform a Contact Improvisation duet as part of Judith Azur’s performance art titled Spaces II at La Mamelle Gallery, San Francisco, CA. photo: Judith Azur


About the work

“Contact Improvisation is a dance process in which two people move in continuous physical contact--like wrestlers, gymnasts, lovers or of the body give and receive weight as the dancers interact” (from the University Art Museum, Berkeley, CA News Release January 8, 1976.

The home of the Bay Area Contact Coalition was Cat’s Paw Palace for the Performing Arts, Berkeley, CA, Cat’s Paw sponsored weekly contact jams and regular performances and the popular month-long FOCUS workshops in the summers of 1976 and 1977. The Bay Area had six Contact Improvisation Performance Groups:

  • Bay Area Dance Coalition: Byron Brown, Ehmroiel, Karen Geiger, Margaret Fisher, Koriel, John Le Fan, Nita Little, Curt Siddall, Nancy Stark Smith, Laurel Sprigg, Jim Tyler, Jerry Zientara; formed, Spring, 1976
  • Mangrove: Byron Brown, John LeFan, Curt Siddall, Jim Tyler; formed, November, 1975
  • Metropolitan Quartet: Margaret Fisher, Karen Geiger, Jerry Zientara; formed, Spring, 1976
  • Reunion: Steve Paxton, Nita Little, Curt Siddall, Nancy Stark Smith; formed, June, 1972
  • 32 ft/sec squared: Nita Little, director; formed, February, 1976
  • West Wing: a repertory film company and performing ensemble; formed, July 1975


  • “Variations on the Square,”  Janice Ross, Artweek, December 4, 1977.   “Judith Azur, a visual artist, recently presented her Spaces II at the La Mamelle Arts Center....In [the] notes Azur explains her desire to ‘present the square as a paradigm of our social-spatial conventions...and illustrate our tendency to box things in.’...In the first section of Spaces II Fisher and Siddall move around the gallery, negotiating their way between the cardboard boxes and video monitors that clutter the floor. Although...this activity is pretty minimal, it is possible to see links betweeen Fisher and Siddall’s carrying and stacking of the boxes, and the black and white images of children playing that appear on the four video monitors at the front of the space....There is a brief interlude of contact improv [on] the tiny red mat (square) provided for them.....Paradoxically, Fisher and Siddall are so strong as performers that they inadvertently divert the force of Azur’s work.”

Film Clip


Triggering was a collaboration between Nita Little and composer John Adams at SITE Gallery, San Francisco, May 29, 1976.


  • Director: Nita Little
  • Music: John Adams
  • Director of Photography: John Adams
  • Performers: Margaret Fisher, John LeFan, Nita Little, Curt Siddall, Ehmroiel
  • Produced by: Alan Scarritt/SITE Gallery
  • Release Date: unknown
  • TRT: unknown
  • Genres: American Dance on Film; Contact Improvisation; New American Music