A living document
Focus & Intention: A jam is a focused environment in which to practice Contact Improvisation. Sound and text are welcome as part of the dancing. However, please keep loud social conversation outside the dance space. Feel free to remind others of this when they want to chat with you. Please keep cell phone usage off the dance floor, and do not photo or video other participants without their consent.
Spatial Awareness: Be mindful of the space around you. Adjust your dance to stay safe. While you may dance at any speed you wish, the dance floor is a “no parking” zone: move non-dance interactions to the side of the room.
Safety & Boundaries: Every dancer is responsible for the safety of the dance floor. We recognize that this is a complex statement. CI can be physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding, and you will be interacting with dancers of varied skill, ability, interest and experience. Safety means different things to different people at different times. Contact improvisation is outside of societal norms for touch; do not assume that your partner is skilled at setting boundaries and establishing consent. Do not assume that touch is always desired. Feel free to communicate verbally with your dancer partner at any time, especially if there is ambiguity around consent. It’s always ok to say “No” or “Stop”. You can always leave a dance or conversation, no apology needed. Many states and impulses can surface during dancing, including feelings of sexual arousal. However, a jam is a shared space; explicitly sexual behavior, regardless of whether it is consensual or not, is not welcome. Please do not come here to cruise. Bodywork is welcome as long as it is consensual and not in the way of active dancing in space.
Hygiene: Practice good hygiene! Wear shoes in the hallways, cover warts and wounds well, wash frequently, and please don’t come to the jam if you know you have a contagious infection.
Entering, Exiting, & Grazing: Solos, duets, trios, quartets, and melees are all part of the greater dance of the whole room: enter dances with a spirit of attending to what is already there. The floor is your first partner, and at all times, regardless of who is touching whom, the whole room is in a dance together.
Observing: is a great way to participate, support the space, and learn!
Kids: are part of our community and we are excited to have a daily family friendly jam (see schedule). Kids are also welcome to dance in other jam spaces, as long as they are engaging in the practice of contact improvisation. If you want to bring your child to a class, you must check in with the specific teacher beforehand. Dancing children need a grown up present with them on the dance floor who is responsible for their safety, is mindful of their impact on the room, and is open to feedback. You may set boundaries with children, or reach out to a parent, teacher, or organizer if you feel children are compromising the jam space. Conversely, we ask that you allow children to engage in the dance according to their own will and curiosity, and respect their boundaries: don’t assume you can pick someone up just because they are smaller than you, don’t assume they want to be tickled, etc.
Diversity & Dialogue: A jam is an evolving environment. We cannot ignore issues of disparity that color our practice, both in terms of who is or is not in the room, and in terms of power dynamics between the people dancing. Our intention is to foster awareness, accessibility, diversity, and dialogue about CI. If you experience or witness unsafe or harassing behavior, or something that just doesn’t feel right, please speak up. Each jam has two jam hosts available for support, and there is a response team and protocol in place to address any incidents that may arise during the festival.
There is no one way to do Contact.
Explore. Experiment. Enjoy!
- wcciJAM Organizing Team
Protocol for Boundary Violations
(adapted from Kathleen Rea, Toronto Jam guidelines)
What would trigger the response protocol?
There are a variety of ways that a person could feel that their boundaries are crossed in a class or jam.
Unwanted manipulative, aggressive, or sensual/ sexual touch.
Insistence on continuing a dance when one dancer is trying to end it.
Continuation of touch after the dance is over/ outside the class or jam.
Witnessing forms of touch/types of dances that seem overly sexualized in a class or jam.
Hearing remarks that are racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist, ageist, or transphobic.
There are many other experiences that people have in CI environments that can feel oppressive, violating or marginalizing. Please use the jam guidelines, and/or reach out to jam hosts or the response team if you have questions about what is appropriate behavior.
If you feel that you have been clear about your limits, but they are not being honored, here is a list of options for you to seek assistance:
Share with jam hosts, organizers, teachers, or another dancer that you feel comfortable with.
Talk to a member of the response team (identified by a bandana worn on their arm)
Leave a note for the response team at the registration table.
Email the wcciJAM, describe your experience, and describe what kind of support you would like.
What to do as a dancer if you have been asked for support:
Listen to the story first. Hold questions until the person feels finished. Ask the person if they are open to being asked questions. Depending on the degree of violation, ask them if they want to talk with the person they had the incident with, and if so, if they want support. Ask the person confiding in you if they would like help reporting the incident to the response team. If so, find a report team member to talk with or go to the registration table. If the violation is severe, ask the person if they want to make a police report.
The process begins when the response team:
Receives a report about a participant violating boundaries or jam guidelines AND/OR
A teacher, jam host, or organizer notices inappropriate behavior
How will it work?
The team will talk with the reporter, unless they are anonymous. Using the Jam Guidelines, the team will figure out which specific boundaries might have been crossed.
If a boundary can be identified as having been crossed, a calling-in process begins. This involves:
Person being called-in will be told that a response process has been set in motion
People doing the calling-in will not be close friends with either party, nor people directly triggered by the issues
The person called in will be told what boundaries have been crossed in an honest manner that involves compassion and time for the person to speak and reflect
The person called in may bring a support person, or one can be identified for them
The response team, the person reporting, and the person being called in will attempt to find agreement about how to redress the situation
The response team member will document the results of the calling-in (reporter, reportee, response team member, narrative, and agreements reached)
In cases where the response team determines, using reasonable judgment, that there is an immediate danger to the community, or the calling-in team is not able to reach agreement between the reporter and the reportee, the reportee may be banned
A person who is banned may ask for an arbitrator to facilitate a discussion between them and the response team