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Hugh Stanier

Contemporary Dance Artist

Hugh is a Contemporary Dance Artist specialising in Contact Improvisation. He has over 15 years of teaching & performance experience. He began dancing when he was 15, training in Break dance and Contemporary. He went on to train at Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD), graduating in 2008. Since then he has worked with companies such as 2Faced Dance, Tom Dale, STAN Won’t Dance, and most recently Wim Vandekeybus/Ultima Vez.

He has taught intensives internationally at the Goa Contact Festival (2015-16-18-19-20), Goa Dance residency(2019-20), Thailand Contact and ecstatic arts festival(2019), Berlin contact festival (2014-19) and Portugal Contact gathering(2018-19), and for National Dance company Wales (NDCW) as well as organising his own workshops and retreats in the UK, Portugal, Germany, Israel and India.

Presently, what interests Hugh most about teaching and facilitating movement is how to create and hold spaces for other people to find a deeper connection to themselves through playful exploration. Whether it is improvisation, contact Improvisation, or a choreographed dance class, the focus and intention lies in finding the joy and power of a movement practice connected to presence, awareness and breath.


INTENSIVE in Festival

Cultivation Connection

Contact improvisation. Floorwork. Improvisation.

In these sessions we will dance with the floor, with ourselves and together with each other. We will improvise and we will learn some ‘moves’, and sequences of movement that help our bodies to move smoothly and easily on, across, into and out of the floor. These movements we learn are also moves that serve coming into connection with another body/ other bodies.

Developing an understanding of the moving body in relation to gravity, space and to other bodies. Integrating floor-work techniques, Improvisational practices and Contact Improvisation to open new pathways and possibilities through the body. By providing tools to build up a functional understanding of the moving body in solo and with others, we can then find greater freedom to explore our own being through movement and connecting to others through movement with clarity and awareness.

Also with a focus also towards more intense ‘Physicality’. Learning how to move on the hands, how to jump, how to fall and how to catch – both yourself and other people.

Building up a toolkit of elements to play with, we will then apply them in to structured scores. Creating a broad experience of dancing and moving that will help to access more freedom and playfulness in jam spaces and beyond…

Serious Playtime.


POST WORKSHOP 29 January – 1. February 2024

Human Moves.

Playful practice & explorinative inquiry.


4 days of Contact Improvisation research at Forgotten Land

In Contact my approach is both technical and experiential – concentrating on building up a functional understanding of underlying physical principles and structures of contact improvisation whilst also widening the trust to ones instincts, impulses and intuition.

The principal themes behind the work are organic, fluid and functional movement. Fluid transitions. Efficiency. Sequentiality.

The sessions develop slowly from inside to out. Often starting with individual floor-work, offering particular principles and tasks, and then gradually building up through the layers using the natural spirals of the body.  Material alternates between contact and solo tasks, and exercises that connect the group as a whole, creating an open, safe and exciting environment to explore.

Within specific exercises we will  explore tools that are helpful to work in contact: sharing weight, center-to-center, leaning and supporting, rolling point of contact.

Also using ideas around momentum, suspension, inertia & falling. To find effortless ways into weight transfers and lifting, leading and following, falling and spiraling…

Time will also be given to work with dance-scores, which allows participants to get into the flow of their own movement, giving time and space to integrate the learnt technique into their dance.

We will explore the idea of dancing open questions, such as;

  • Why do I move?
  • What do I feel when I am dancing.
  • How do I move with another person/other people whilst remaining connected to my own movement?
  • Where does Improvisation become Contact Improvisation?
  • How can I describe my experience in a way that encapsulates what it is I feel, and invites people to want to join?

Finding words to describe our dancing is sometimes not enough. Sometimes dancing our inquiries is the best way to get more informed about what is happening for us when we dance, and why it is so important to us to dance.

By giving time to stillness around the practice we will offer our nervous system (both individual and collective) time to integrate the experience of moving and learning together.

The tools we learn in the practice of this form can also be applied to how we relate to others in the everyday experience. The workshop environment can serve as a microcosm to understand ourselves more deeply or notice how we view ourselves and bring greater awareness to our habitual patterns – how we treat ourselves, how we relate to others etc.

Noticing how intrinsically the mind and body are linked and giving space to the embodied experience of softening the mind through engaging the body in a relaxed & focused way.


We will also focus on how we sculpt space as a group, open our collective perception and look at how we move as a whole. How we frame dances by watching, giving space, feeling when to move, and when to be still. We will work with structures and scores to frame improvisation, and specific techniques for working in trios and larger groups.

Cultivating a deeper awareness of listening, breathing, giving, receiving, timing and moving as a collective.

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