#Human Rights
C1@50: Critical Mass

Contact improvisation (CI), a dance form which explores improvised touch between two or more dancers, is in its 50th year in 2022, and a gathering called 'Critical Mass: CI@50' is being organised at Oberlin College in July. The event will feature key teachers and celebrate this special birthday of CI in the very location where the first contact improvisation performances took place. The policy of Oberlin College as a venue, however, is that all guests to the premises must present proof of full Covid-19 vaccination. This rule excludes a large number of CI dancers who would otherwise wish to attend CI@50, and represents an unfortunate trend to exclude dancers on the basis of personal, medical choices. Organisers of CI@50 offer dancers the option to request exemption from this, but only by going through the demeaning process of exposing their private medical information. We wish to draw attention to this problem of discrimination based on medical choice at CI@50, and also for CI events globally.

We wish to speak out about this issue, to raise awareness about medical discrimination, and to encourage people to take a stand to protect freedom of choice for all.

We also wish to support those who don't feel confident to publicly share their opinion because of fear of repercussions.

We aim to send this petition to the organisers of CI@50 by 7th June 2022, a month before the event. However, signatures will continue to be collected past this point, as we would like this statement to be visible to all organisers of CI events worldwide.

To the CI community and organisers of CI@50:

We the undersigned, as fellow contact improvisation practitioners, teachers, and organisers in a global community, are delighted that CI@50 will take place to gather dancers to celebrate the anniversary of CI's inception, and are grateful to the team for organising. CI has travelled far in its 50 years and touched many people around the world with its core embodied research proposition and open-ended ethos. CI has also, in many ways, touted itself as a practice which welcomes any body, saying 'come as you are'.

It is because of this we feel moved to raise a concern about the exclusive nature of the July 2022 gathering. In an era when many are giving great consideration to inclusive practice, it has come to our attention that a prerequisite for attending CI@50 at the Oberlin College premises is proof of having had the Covid jab (see info here ). This requirement excludes anyone who has not had the jab for whatever reason, and therefore promotes medical discrimination within the CI@50 event. While this may well be the policy of the hosting institution rather than the event organisers per se, it still excludes a large number of people from attending, and more importantly, sets up a serious us/them dichotomy within CI culture and community. Though the CI@50 diversity statement names groups it welcomes, there is no mention of dancers who choose not to take a jab and value their medical choice.

Not only are a large number of dancers, teachers, and organisers un-jabbed by choice or necessity, many are choosing to engage in contact situations at their own risk, while finding alternative ways of mitigating risks in CI. Many consider that embracing certain levels of risk is an inevitable aspect of movement practice. Additionally, there is a gathering movement across the globe to reduce or get rid of the extra measures (e.g., masks, vaccine passports, etc.) previously required to participate in events, travel, and everyday activities. As a result of these circumstances we question the impact of medical mandates for CI events at this moment in time.

Now in 2022 we ask organisers across the wider CI community to reconsider these types of requirements as part of any CI event. Arguably, the continued separation of jabbed and un-jabbed citizens through restricted access to activities constitutes active medical discrimination. We rally our fellow dancers to stand in unity with all improvisers everywhere, regardless of background or medical history, to welcome everyone to study, celebrate, and practice the form we love.

Contact Improvisation Dancers for Medical Choice

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The Contact Improvisation and Medical Choice: CI@50 petition to C1@50: Critical Mass was written by CI-Dancers for Medical Choice and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.