Contage Dharma Dance was developed by Andy Peri and his late wife Deb Hubsmith in 2008. During their early friendship and later during the time they were together as partners, Andy and Deb began to explore combining Contact Improvisation Dance with basic massage techniques inspired by their dancing styles.
The term “Contage” is a blend of the word “contact” (from Contact Improvisation Dance) and “massage”. The name emerged at a lunch table with friends at the Northern California Dance Collective Summer Camp to much laughter and joy but the name stuck.
As Deb and Andy began to more fully develop various Contage techniques and ideas, they were moved to teach together beginning with a small class with friends in her living room in a “laboratory”-like setting. Based on the positive feedback from friends, Deb and Andy initially began teaching classes at dance camps, local events and at private gatherings.
Deb and Andy continued to teach classes together until her diagnosis of Leukemia in October of 2013. Andy’s beloved wife passed away on August 18, 2015 after a 22 month dance with the disease and associated intense treatments.
Andy continued to teach Contage by himself after Deb’s passing and later in 2016 began working with Xiao Shu to teach classes. The name of the dance was recently changed to Contage Dharma Dance (from just Contage) to reflect Andy and Xiao’s love for the Dharma and their deep intention and practice of using this form as a means of increasing awareness, insight, connection and awakening in participants’ lives.
Xiao and Andy took Contage Dharma Dance to China in early 2018, teaching workshops in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chengdu, Xi Lai and Lijiang. Participants had an opportunity to experience moving meditation, dance, connection with others and self expression in ways that few of the participants had ever experienced before growing up in China.