Is Tango Ruining Contact?

Are Tango and other forms of social dance ruining Contact Improvisation? Ruining might be a strong word. How about changing it in a direction I do not like? Expanding maybe? No, I think that I will stick with ruining. And I will explain why. From my small exposure to the CI world, I see the form being “ruined” by social dance forms. Ruined, I say because their influences are not expanding the range of the form but changing the bulk of how it is practiced.

At the jams in Berlin (granted this is a small slice of the CI pie), I see more and more codification of CI. I see person X and know what five moves he will do with a woman. And this person is also practitioner of Tango. I see person Y and know what 5 moves she will do and end up on person Z’s shoulder.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t have habits. Habits are fun. They are enjoyable and give us a benchmark of how we are progressing. They show us how “good” we have become at something. But is that the goal? Is the goal to know how good we are at something? Is the goal of CI to practice moves that we know and have an enjoyable experience? Is CI a product or a process?

I would say that for more and more people it is becoming a product. This might have been what Danny Lepkoff was talking about at Freiburg this year. CI has basically become another social dance form with set moves and gender roles. People go to the jams to engage in a certain movement style and do certain moves, basically a milonga with baggy pants and a less structured frame than the tango.

And as more and more people engage in social dance forms, they bring however un/consciously the values from those other forms into CI and expanding CI. Just as someone who studies Karate or Judo will bring values from those physical practices into CI. Or Alexander techique. Or opera singing or Feldenkrais. All of which people are un/consciously bringing values from those practices into CI. And I hope those values are always brought into CI. This problem, that I see(and I might be the only one) could be a result of not knowing enough about tango. I might need to expand the side of the G.U.T. triangle between logic and tool of tango. Hmm…

Anyways, I just worry that people are reducing CI to a set of movements, basically to small snippets of choreo that they then improvise with.