Contact staff has been a part of my life for so long. Contact staff is difficult and ability grows over years but innovation can come quickly to newcomers that aren’t bound by some of the older traditions. I want to bring attention to some modern-day contact staffers that I find innovative that you should check out. The focus of this list is on single or double contact staff. This is by no means a comprehensive list and I am positive I have missed many many people who should be on there. Especially, as I made this list I realized I don’t follow a lot of BIPOC artists that put out a lot of content. If you know someone I missed, drop their names as a comment!
This woman I have recently discovered from a video of punishing new tricks she delivered. There was first the bend back variation on the vertical stall you can see in the video here or even much of the flexible movement-based leg work I see her do in many of her Instagram posts. I find her Instagram to be full of exploring what it means to be a young flow artist in eastern Europe. Pretty cool and every time she shouts me out, I get nervous because she is soooo good!
KC has built so much of the US contact staff community. I am not sure if she even realizes it. She is not just an inspiration to the women who are interested in spinning but she is an inspiring movement artist. The thing about KC that I love is how intentional she is with her work. Watching her Instagram videos it’s clear how much thought and analysis go into every movement and sequence. I feel honored to call her a friend and I await the day I get another chance to pass sticks with her.
Anna comes from a lineage of double fishtails and is based in Hungary She has such subtle innovation and elegance in her double fishtail work it brings a tear to my eye. I love seeing her process and creativity. She doesn’t just explore the nether regions of the double fishtail technique but also has an incredible eye for style. You can see her style with her costuming, check out this dress! I think I will have to really spend the next two years re-practicing all my double fishys before I meet her!
Michelle Cristina Smith
I mean what else can you say? This person exemplifies power and strength. Michelle comes from the baton world but mixes in martial arts and theatrical presentation. I love seeing her sword video and she really knows how to put together evocative routines. I met her within the Madskillz community in Vancouver, Canada. She is the first person that really helped me understand my forward fujimi and helped it click at a workshop while I was there. Her skills speak for themselves and she is a real-life superhero.
So this person spins contact staff pretty well. It’s not just that though… he can do it on ice. It’s incredible how he is so good at skating and contact staff. Usually, when people blend skills I can notice that sometimes they don’t usually meld perfectly. With this guy, you can tell he has a passion for skating and also the staff, and when combined with his body a new art form is created. I wait eagerly to see any video he puts out. When you get a second check him out. It’s not just a gimmick. He is the real deal.
If you haven’t checked out one of Alex’s videos you are seriously missing out. Alex from the UK is probably one of the most innovative contact staffers spinning today. I kind of wish he would release videos more often. When I watch his videos I can see his technical mind looking for cycles of tricks and new passageways. I’ve never met the guy but from communicating with him online it’s clear he would be a delightful guy to spin with and spend time with. When checking him out don’t let the video quality turn you off; he has so much technique buried. Particularly with some of his more recent Lucero-y head tracey stuff like what you see here.
Yonnic is a spinner from the states that spends much of his time in Guanajuato MX. Sometimes you see a staffer and it’s not the innovation that strikes you right away but the cleanness of the spinning. Yonnic, in my opinion, has some of the cleanest single contact staff that you will see. He also has innovation but his style is so smooth. His style really reminds me of Kevin Arleri. He has a way of generating long sequences of contact staff with power and has clean movements to go with them. Yonnic is humble and I think that might prevent people from seeing how awesome he really is. I met him once at a jam in a random park in Boulder, even then he was crushing it. I hope he keeps putting stuff out, it’s an inspiration for me to clean up my spinning and to improve the tricks I already know.
Oscar is from the UK and I have only connected with him once in person. His online presence is addictive. Oscar has a very playful attitude and is one of those people that really pushes for community and positivity. He has really clean staff work and shows that in clear sequencing. What I really love about watching him spin is that he is really open with his thought process on his posts when it comes to his practice. This makes me feel good as sometimes we don’t really see the inner workings of spinners. I hope one day to head back to the UK or have him back to the states for a visit so we can jam staff again.
Marnie is from Australia, one of the major locations where contact staff originated. She has a spinning style that clearly shows that she pays attention to the spinning of others and then places her own spin on it to generate new and innovative ideas.She has amazing technique and groundwork research that I have been secretly stealing and stalking for years. I have never met her but one day I will cash in on my infinite Aussie couch credit and for sure spin with her.
Stephen lives in Philadelphia and has so many amazing single and triple staff tricks that come from a place of deep research. He was one of my number one inspirations to pick up triple staffs three years ago and I feel really honored to call him a triples sensei. He also makes props and his sticks are the only ones that I consistently spin for triples. Warning: when watching his videos you might want to watch in slow motion; it all happens soooo fast! We recently put together the third annual sticksout event and it went great and we are excited when the virus is on the downswing to host even more events.