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Peter Ryan is one of Canada's most accomplished proponents of contact improvisation. A former member of Canada's national rowing team, Ryan first studied dance during the 1970s with Linda Rubin in Vancouver. He also studied closely with American contact improvisation pioneers Steve Paxton and Nancy Stark Smith.
Ryan danced for several Vancouver choreographers, including Karen Jamieson, before joining forces with fellow Vancouver artists – Peter Bingham, Barbara Bourget, Jay Hirabayashi, Lola MacLaughlin, Jennifer Mascall and musician Ahmed Hassan – to establish EDAM (Experimental Dance and Music), a creative collective and multi-media performance company.
After a sojourn in France, Ryan moved to Ottawa in 1993. There, he directed Four on the Floor Dance, a multi-disciplinary, improvisational performance group. He also became the chair of the board of Directors for Dance Ontario and a member of the board of the Council for the Arts in Ottawa.
Not only a performer, Ryan also has extensive teaching experience. For numerous years, he has taught movement to both dancers and actors at several Canadian institutions, including Simon Fraser University, Studio'58 and the Vancouver Playhouse in British Columbia; and the University of Ottawa and the Dance Network Studios in Ontario. For several years Ryan annually travelled to Greece to teach members of the Sxedia Dance Company in Athens.
As a writer and cultural commentator, Ryan has worked for CBC radio. He has also written articles about the development of contact improvisation in Canada.
Ryan, Peter. “10,000 Jams Later: Contact Improvisation in Canada, 1974-1995.” Dance Connection 13.3 (September / October 1995): 16-24.