UCCA Beijing

“Matthew Barney: Redoubt” Series:
UCCA X TOUCH Contact Improvisation Workshop


Location:  Workshop
Language:  English with Chinese translation

In Matthew Barney's latest film, Redoubt, the artist has engaged with the dance genre of Contact Improvisation, and fully integrated it into the narrative of the film, in which characters communicate through dance rather than dialogue. Throughout the film, the actions of the characters are choreographed to dancing movements that respond to, suggest, and interpret their encounters with wildlife and each other. All of the dance passages were filmed on location, and the relationship between site and movement is a recurring theme.


Contact Improvisation is both a kind of free dance and a flowing conversation through physical contact. It can heal participants’ fear of their bodies, and encourage their emotional openness towards themselves and others. The dance was created in the early 1970s by American choreographer Steve Paxton, who was inspired by Japanese Aikido, Zen Buddhist practices, gymnastics and Tai Chi. With an unusual origin for the dance world, Contact Improvisation has been nicknamed “Sport Dance,” emphasizing its use of daily life movements and purely physical performance. It is also extremely democratic in terms of body movements and creative structures. On September 28, 2019, the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art invites renowned choreographer and performer Ulli Wittemann to present a two-hour Contact Improvisation workshop.


Ulli Wittemann (Teacher and Coach for Movement, Acting, Awareness and Communication)

A passion for movement and growth has drawn Ulli to new directions since he was a child. After practicing ballroom dance and hip hop as a teenager, and many years of studying different martial arts (Judo, Aikido, kickboxing, boxing, and most recently Muay Thai) he fell in love with Contact Improvisation in 2001 during his actors’ studies at the University of Performing Arts in Frankfurt, Germany. After eight years of performing more than 1000 shows in the German State Theater system he decided to change his focus from performing to sharing his love for movement, acting, awareness, and communication, teaching in Munich and abroad. In recent years he has taught workshops, classes, masterclasses and retreats in China, Japan, India, Thailand, Bali, Israel, Palestine, USA, Canada, Turkey, Russia and 12 other European countries. He is one of the Founders of the Tempelhof Contact Festival, the BODY MIND SOUL Festival in Germany, and the Conscious Flow Festival in India. His portfolio includes Feldenkrais, Modern Dance and his own PLAYFIGHT system. Wittemann holds a diploma in acting and has held his own nature retreat since 2015.

He enjoys supporting the personal and professional processes of individual clients and groups in public institutions (e.g. universities and dance schools) and private companies, as well as personal coaching in the fields of body awareness and dance, voice training, acting, presence and presentation. He believes in a healthy balance between structure and chaos, clear goals and the enjoyment of life, while unfolding our full potential as human beings.


Body On & On

Touch Contact Improvisation Festival