Teaching and Research


Current teaching

The teaching of Mark Tompkins is related to his current interests, with recurrent themes – the question of stage « presence » - the connection between the intention and the act – the relationship between the acteur and the witness - the origin and construction of « complex images », - the duration and degradation of forms.


When improvising, each performer is working simultaneously on many different levels of perception ; listening, watching, sensing, acting, reacting to one's self and one's partners in a given space and time.The art of improvisation resides in each performers abilities to remain open to the wealth of internal and external impulses, and to receive, process, and propose material in an uninterupted flow of feedback. How to avoid overload, how to be actively attentive, how to do "nothing" and still act.

These are some of the questions we will confront through a series of improvisational structures and games that deal with inner and outer concentration, simultaneous time, changing states, and the relationship of the watcher and the doer, both as performer and as spectator.



The practice of instantaneous or real time composition is basically the same for dancers and musicians. The major differences lie in the use of the body - the main “instrument” in both cases - and the motivation to act. For a dancer, the body is the instrument and the primary motivation is to create movement, in other words, to be seen. For a musician, the body in it’s relationship to an object is the instrument and the primary motivation is to create sound, in other words, to be heard.

The collaboration of Nuno Rebelo and Mark Tompkins investigates the similiarities and differences between their respective points of view, including and emphasizing the zones of crossover and contamination.

Sound for the eyes, movement for the ears.



If to frame is to compose, then how do we compose the world in which we live ? How to capture and translate the sensation and emotion of a moving body into image ?

First, using light weight video equipment and very simple improvisational structures, an exploration of the visual perception of space and time, and the relationship between the human eye and the eye of the camera. Then, we work on « plans séquences », single shots with no editing, close to performance, in which all the elements (image, sound, light, action) must be mastered during the shooting. Finally, in small teams, each participant directs a project, makes a short video and participates in the other projects. Everyone films, everyone dances.


and for information

Mark Tompkins encountered Steve Paxton, Lisa Nelson and Contact Improvisation in 1978 during a workshop at the Ste Baume in the south of France. For the next fifteen years, he practiced and taught Contact Improvisation in France and all around Europe. Then, his teaching shifted slowly towards improvisation and real time composition.


Contact Improvisation is a dance form, a technique and a movement practice initiated by Steve Paxton in 1972 in the United States, and developed by him and many other people in the following decades. Today, this « democratic » dance (without copyright, it belongs to those who practice it) is taught and practiced all over the world.

Contact Improvisation is basically the dialogue and play between two partners engaged in an improvised exploration of their body’s weights in relation to the forces of gravity, inertia and momentum.The dance can evolve very slowly with epedermic micro movements, or on the contrary be very dynamique, with spectacular lifts and falls.

As its’ name implies, it is about touch – but not only, it is a dance of all the senses – and improvisation – inventing new strategies and learning to let go in order to « survive » the constant activity of disorientation and disequilibrium.

The development of Contact Improvisation generated in 1975 a magazine, Contact Quarterly, a vehicle for moving ideas which publishes articles, essays and interviews abot Contact Improvisation, bodymind practices and contemporary danse.


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La Cie I.D.A. Mark Tompkins est subventionnée par la DRAC Ile-de-France / Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication au titre de l'Aide à la compagnie et par la Ville de Paris.

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