Freiburg was one of the first places in Europe to host a rich and vivid
new dance scene.
In the early 1980s
Lilo Stahl, Bernd Ka and Wolfgang Graf (co-founders of 'bewegungs-art',
former 'schwarzmarkt') invited contact teachers like Laurie Booth,
Kirstie Simson, Andrew Harwood and Nancy Stark Smith.
They started teaching and initiated a weekly jam. This Thursday evening
jam was the birthpool of the Blackforest Contact Jam.
The original founders (Annette Bertram, Eckhard Müller, Ines
Heckmann and Martin Zeidler) met here and talked for months about
starting an international weekend jam. Martin was school-teacher at the
Birklehof boarding school and convinced the director to host this event
(that was planned for some 50 or 60 people).
So it started off in June 1996. Almost 100 dancers participated. Ines
fried mountains of grünkern burgers til late the night before, ...
in the first year, the all day buffet was handmade by the organizers,
many participants contributed something, too. Benno Voorham, from
Stockholm, led the warm ups and downs, even helped us find into the
dance after a very short rest at night, everybody being so tired ...
In 1997 a
celebration of '25 years contact improvisation' with more than 130
dancers was the highlight of the jam. Seeing that 130 is way too many
people for the space, we strictly limited the amount of participants to
110 maximum. We added one day. Benno Voorham accompanied the jam.
In 1998, Benno came
again, we remember well a long small dance for warm up (hmm)
In 1999, Annette
dropped out and Renate Müller-Procyk joined the team.
Charlotte Zerbey, from Firenze led the warm up, making us breathe and
find our centers.
In 2000, Renate
dropped out. Eckhard still made it to prepare 5 Schwarzwälder
Kirschtorten for the celebration of the 5 year jubilee ... We added
another day and the idea of 'study labs' for 2-3 hours one afternoon.
Starting with hesitation, it ended up with everyone in smaller or
bigger groups in sparkling discussions, experimenting, trying all kinds
of things around CI (voice, music, CI with kids, jam organisation,
video, find a score for the open stage at night, handstand, catching,
falling,... just to name a few) Cathy Caracker helped to accompany the
dancers through the jam with starfishes and other BMC insights.
In 2001, Martin
took a sabbath year. (Pooh...!)
Thomas Kampe from London made us move our pelvises and introduced Thai
In 2002, Tanja
Striezel joined the team. We initiated a small dance for 20 minutes
facing the direction of Amsterdam, where another group of people stood
at the same time, facing us, practicing the 'underscore' with Nancy
Stark Smith. (wow, chills ... )
Thomas Kampe came again from London. Martin dropped out right after the
So in 2003 the team
was: Eckhard, Ines and Tanja. Eckhard dropped out right after the jam.
In 2004 there was no Blackforestjam.
Ines is organizing the
last Jam 2005. 75 dancers came to celebrate contact improvisation in
this way in this place .
organisation of this jam has always been quite a piece of work: all
around the year
we met 1-2 times a month to discuss, plan, prepare. In February and
April/May we had an enormous amount of work.
From the very beginning it was planned to be a safe container for the
dancers to explore the form, letting them have enough freedom as well
as structural support. At the same time, the organizing team didn't
want to provide an allround-Neckermann-package but share
We tried different systems like payed helpers, letting it all happen by
itself (which led to frust, ... the organizers picking up the cigarette
stubs in the end ...).
Later we practiced a system that was known as 'good karma jobs',
where the dancers could put their names up in lists to take care of the
buffet, clean the floor, help with the lights for the open stage, be
responsible for the kids' space, etc. A helping crew of 3-4 volunteers
(work exchange) supported the team during the jam.
We invited european contact teachers to help us by putting the jam into
a frame of openness, depth, mindfullness and intensity. The musicians
were well chosen: experienced in CI as well as in improvising music.
As the years passed by and experience increased, we felt much more
secure about what we wanted and how we managed to
approach these goals. Still many things stayed open and in eternal
-How much party does man need?
-How much food does man want and need?
-Should we put chocolate on the buffet table?
-How can we balance the times with or without music?
-How much should a beer cost? And- should it cost extra?
-Should we, the organizers, offer ourselves a day in the thermal baths
and can we afford a professional massage, when it's all over?
-Will we do it again?
One by one
we answered this question with "no". We have other projects today. The
jam scene has changed a lot so that today you can find jams almost all
Followers who were willing to go through the process of learning
and taking over the concept weren't found.