This week’s Dance First Insight is from Moti Zemelman & Contact Improv!

9th annual Contact Improv Retreat in Costa Rica w/ Moti: Feb 11-18, 2023 @ The Goddess Garden Yoga Resort – Cahuita, Costa Rica.

Contact Improvisation has continued to be an anchor for me during these challenging pandemic years.  Having a regular practice that is about connection, relaxation and joy is key to living a healthy meaningful life.  I’m inspired by the idea of having pleasure and willpower be a regular part of my movement practice.  Feeling the pleasure of each micro-movement, the sensation of air on skin, leaves crunching under my feet, the delight of seeing my dance partner laughing as they slide down to the ground using my stable torso and limbs. This pleasure is one of our biggest resources.

Willpower is another huge resource – the determination and sharing of our boundaries.  Contact Improv is a constant dance of consent.  Saying and hearing the “No” & “Yes” verbally/non-verbally is an act of willpower and trust which can bring us into deeper intimacy when we hold ourselves and partners with respect and hear both as a gift.  This listening practice guides our dances to greater empathy and presence.

Every year I look forward to taking this practice and play to the beaches and jungles of the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.  At the Goddess Garden, the retreat center that I have now taught at for nine years, the studios and dining area are all gorgeous open-air spaces. The surrounding jungle is filled with monkeys, sloths, toucans, tree frogs, and blue morpho butterflies. The primal sounds of animals permeate our dances, whether we are in the wood-floor palapa studio or dancing on the roots of the “Goddess Tree,” the oldest and most amazing tree in Cahuita. Its roots are taller than me, and its trunk takes more than 20 people holding outstretched hands to surround; it will leave you breathless.

When I started teaching Contact Improv in Costa Rica twelve years ago, there were no Contact jams, and practically nobody trained in Contact Improv in the country. Now there is a thriving weekly jam and community started by students of mine.

Seven years ago, I started an initiative to make my retreat more accessible to Costa Ricans and other Central American dancers who wished to participate but were financially unable to. Thanks to the generosity of our community of worldwide dancers committed to inclusion and accessibility, we’ve been able to raise enough for 2-4 dancers every year of the scholarship! If you’d like to contribute, go here:

This year’s retreat at Goddess Garden is happening from February 11-18, 2023, and is already filling up with amazing participants. During this week-long intensive, we’ll be exploring Contact Improvisation as a way of connecting with self, nature, spirit, and community.  Come discover your pleasure and willpower as a moving practice!

Here’s the link to the Facebook event:
and the registration page on my website:

I’m offering $200 OFF for anyone who registers by Nov 1st.

Pura Vida!
Moti Zemelman

For more information, check out this video!