The performance collective EDAM (Experimental Dance and Music) had its beginnings in the creative ferment of the early 1980s, when Peter Bingham, Barbara Bourget, Ahmed Hassan, Jay Hirabayashi, Lola MacLaughlin, Jennifer Mascall and Peter Ryan joined forces in a fertile, volatile alliance. Working out of Vancouver's Western Front, an artist-run centre, EDAM's founding artists created independently and collaboratively in the company's early years. In 1984 the group condensed to four artistic directors, and in 1989 Peter Bingham assumed sole directorship.
Bingham was an original member, with Andrew Harwood and Helen Clarke, of the contact improvisation company Fulcrum (1977-79). Developed by American Steve Paxton in the early 1970s, contact improvisation began as a fusion of that artist's interest in martial arts and his experience in Cunningham and Limon dance techniques. It is characterized by the cooperative exchange of weight between partners, what Bingham calls "touch and tumble."
Bingham has brought his own kind of synthesis to bear on the form, evolving a signature EDAM style that is a consolidation of his work in contact improvisation but also in ballet and the Pilates method of body conditioning. Its casual, spontaneous appearance belies the rigour of the craft supporting it and the charged associations and packed meanings it can deliver. EDAM offers ongoing classes and intensive workshops in contact improvisation and yoga with Bingham, Harwood, Helen Walkley and visiting artists such as Lin Snelling, Marc Boivin, Chris Aiken, Ray Chung, and contact dance pioneers Steve Paxton and Nancy Clark Smith.
EDAM company members and invited guests show choreographed and improvised work in a formal studio series several times a year. Key figures from the contact improvisation world such as Paxton, Stark Smith, Aiken, Chung, and Simone Forti have performed at EDAM's Studio Theatre. Bingham's ongoing relationships with movement, sound and light improvisers have resulted in full-evening and shorter dances. In 1996 Peter Bingham worked with Ballet British Columbia's artistic director at the time, John Alleyne, on a collaborative piece called Remember Me from Then, featuring dancers from EDAM and Ballet BC in a composition that blended the gravity-seeking principles of contact improvisation with the uprightness of ballet.
Some of Bingham's full-length works for EDAM are Slip (2006) and life sentences (2011). He has also created solos, duets and commissioned dances, including Heaven can wait... I'm busy right now (2001) for Kaeja d'Dance.
EDAM has toured Canada a number of times. The company has shown work at the Canada Dance Festival, Vancouver's Dancing on the Edge Festival, the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, the New York Improvisation Festival, and in Winnipeg, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Virginia as well as overseas. EDAM's improvisation ensemble, The Echo Case (Bingham with guest artists Marc Boivin, Andrew Harwood, Ron Samworth, Coat Cooke and Robert Meister) toured across Canada in 1999. The ensemble is unique among improvisers for its longevity: its members re-united every summer between 1992 and 2008.
EDAM's original members continue to assert influence within the discipline. They have created their own companies in Vancouver, notably Kokoro Dance (Barbara Bourget and Jay Hirabayashi), Mascall Dance and Lola MacLaughlin Dance. The now-deceased Ahmed Hassan composed music for Desrosiers Dance Theatre, Dancemakers, Peggy Baker and others; Peter Ryan been a teacher in Ottawa.