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© Andréa de Keijzer

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Improvisation has helped me find the ways my body moves comfortably, and to recognize my own movement habits. – Juana María Galindo Torres, graduate, from Bogotá, Colombia

Creative Process

In this course, dancers examine new and emerging areas of thought and practice in the exploration of the craft of choreography. It is designed to facilitate students’ individual and collective journeys through the choreographic process, from conception through creation and rehearsal, to performance and evaluation.

Course instructors lead discussions on aesthetic choices and on practical creative skills. The classes are experiential and aim to stimulate creative thinking through research, physical practice, observation, analysis, discussion, and documentation.

Students investigate the creative process through free and structured improvisations to generate movement material and develop solo, duet, and group choreography.  Throughout the course, students develop their analytical and descriptive abilities to discuss work and give feedback to their peers.

They begin to define their artistic point of view, defend their values, expand their critical thinking, and cultivate the ability to take creative risks. Students develop practical skills in handling technical and production support for performances, and in finding and integrating sound and music.

In third year, students are required to produce a work for public presentation; some class time is given for this purpose, but it is expected that significant out-of-class time will be involved.

When we create our own pieces, I find the opportunity to fail and make mistakes without intense pressure is very valuable; we can really explore, and it’s a great learning experience. – Vanessa Faria, graduate, from Toronto, Ontario

Even for dancers who have no choreographic aspirations themselves, the process of creating and producing their own work will significantly enhance their understanding of the realities of their professional obligations as performers, and contribute to the development of a rigorous creative practice.

Students are encouraged to develop:

  • the ability to speak and write articulately about the art form with dancers, other collaborators, and audience members
  • an understanding of the relationship of sound/music and other design elements to choreography and dance production
  • an understanding of the importance of collaboration
  • organizational skills
  • the ability to work constructively ‘to deadline’ and under pressure


Coming in to the program, improvisation scared me quite a bit; now find it almost therapeutic.  It enhances my vocabulary and improves my dance “third eye”.  I was scared of the vulnerability of improvising; the PTP has given me the confidence to show my vulnerability. – Colby McGovern, graduate, from Grande Prairie, Alberta

This course provides opportunities for the dancer to participate in the creative process and to bring form to the instincts of the body and spirit.

The class provides a non-judgmental atmosphere for dancers to discover movement and sound that comes from their own impulses, and to discover, isolate, and practise elements of compositional form through improvisational structures, working towards the evolution of a compositional voice.

They make physical, personal, emotional, and psychological discoveries, and they develop sensitivity, listening, tools for expression, performance abilities, and choreographic skills.  They are encouraged to take creative risks, and to provoke themselves to explore beyond their own movement vocabulary in order to discover new ways of moving and sounding.

Improvisation has helped me to create new pieces, to forget about any known technique, and to start from a wide palette of improvising and create new phrases for my choreography. – Natalia Lisina, graduate, from Kazan, Russia

Contact Improvisation

Contact improvisation has given me a new way to connect with people.  I used to feel that people were much more judgmental. Through contact improvisation it becomes clear that we’re all working together; we are able to connect more, and with more self-confidence. – Melissa Watt, graduate, from Edmonton, Alberta

This course explores the style and technique, based on improvisation, in which dancers engage gravity and momentum to support and utilize each other’s body weight while in motion.  Developed by dance artist Steve Paxton in the 1970s, contact improvisation is traditionally performed as a duet.

The emphasis is on touching, falling, lifting, leaning, sliding, counter-balancing, and supporting the weight of another person. Characteristics of sharing, co-operation, egalitarianism, and informality define the atmosphere among participants.  This technique is a valuable tool for dancers approaching partnering work in choreography.

Contact improvisation has certainly helped me get to know the people in my class, but also to learn about my own body, and how I can work with my body in relation to others. – Stuart Wright, graduate, from Toronto, Ontario

Partnering/Contact Dance

Partnering/Contact Dance will continue the focus on the technique and aesthetics of Contact Improvisation.

Being able to come to a school every day to do contact improvisation and improvisation has given me a daily opportunity for self-expression that I really enjoy. – Vanessa Faria, graduate, from Toronto, Ontario

The skills to be developed include: articulate and sophisticated response to the point of contact; multi-level movement; escalating the opportunities for momentum through anchoring, flying, gravity, and breath; accentuating the elements of elevation techniques; lofting through propulsion; weight transfer and ‘dancing the impulse with your partner’; comfort in and out of contact; composition; and performance presence.

Contact improvisation has shown me how to embrace the spontaneity of the moment, and to celebrate accidents, and to accept not really being in control.  You get to realize how great spontaneous moments are. – Danah Rosales, graduate, from Toronto, Ontario