Week 2: The rolling point and the interchangeable role of the under and over dancer
After my first session of Contact Improvisation I felt quite overwhelmed however excited to learn something new, I went into the second session very positive hoping to gain more knowledge about the module. My thoughts throughout began very vague and sometimes quite lost when we first got asked to improvise on the spot. As the session developed I felt that I had a greater understanding of how to explore my body within space using different levels, points of contact and movement being initiated by pushing or pulling motion.
The warm up began by focusing on each part of the body, eyes closed laid in a relaxed position on the floor. Movement developed by exploring the space using the lower region of the body using a pushing and pulling motion, we eventually ended on our feet. In the previous session I said that I would focus more on only what I was doing rather than observing the action around me. I put this into practice in today’s session by only focusing on my specific movement, what I was doing and the theory behind it. Knowing what to expect helped my confidence and becoming in the moment throughout the task. Duncan Holt says ‘It is through the exploration of these aspects of dance practice that knowledge is generated’.(P217, Holt, 2011)
We then walked around the space with no eye contact with any other individual around the room, eventually we began to give direct eye contact with the person who passes us. Facial expressions are something which can be hard to control; some find it more difficult than others. Personally, I found this difficult as I sometimes get the erge to laugh. Keeping in control of my facial expressions throughout experimenting with tasks is something which I wish to work on throughout the process. We then touched a shoulder through passing and the body melted to the floor and lifted up to standing using the full body weight of the person pulling. To properly touch the person is significant in contact improvisation as it initiates what will happen next. ‘Touch, is more than making of a contact, it concerns qualitative variations in the degrees of attention’ ( 219, Holt, 2011)If I had the chance to develop this task further throughout the session I would use the element of touch and sensation to properly touch. I would also use the entire body to pull the person up from the floor. This is something which I hope to improve throughout ongoing sessions. I felt that touch brings the closeness of the class together and I am happy to be touched in the dance sessions as it helps connect with one another.
Indeed Montagu states that: ‘Touch is the parent of our eyes, ears, nose and mouth. It is the sense, which became differentiated into the others, a fact, that seems to be recognized in the age-old evaluation of touch as ‘the mother of the senses’.(P218, Holt, 2011)
After the warm up we experienced some more partner work. A laid relaxed on the floor whilst B was in a table top position over A, B then shifted there full weight onto the back of A. We stayed in this position for a while to sense the feeling of weight bearing; A then rolled over for B to roll back onto the floor. I found this experiment daunting as I was anxious to put my full weight onto my partner; I felt that this held me back due to being scared of weight bearing. This is something I need to develop and change for next week as It will make the task easier the more confidence I have. Once we practiced a few times I began to understand how using my whole body weight can make the task easier. We then sat back to back with our partner with our eyes shut beginning to slowly move around the back region not loosing contact with each other. Not loosing the connection is very important. Trust is also vital. Perception is extremely important within all of the tasks given, the reading ‘Touch: Experience of knowledge’ also emphasises perception. I found that when changing partners it was a completely different experience.
What is perception?
A then improvises whilst B observes, I found that I created some habitual patterns without realising which affected my movement quality and how I moved. My experience of improvises standing up was challenging; I felt the movement which I could do was limited. I now realise that I was wrong. A then began to improvise; B told us when to stop to find a point of contact. B could use A’s body to balance, transfer weight or even just touch, the idea of the task being to not perform the obvious and to break any habitual pattern. I found it easier when I manipulated my pattern into a more stable position so that I could experiment using different balances and points of touch. For the next session I am determined to develop how I use my partner as a point of contact, I will use my full body weight and different angles, positions and levels to create something out of the ordinary.
Using the space from different sides of the room we practiced and experimented walking with resistance. We then tried sitting in squat position back to back attempting to walk forwards and sideward’s. The last task of the session was to try weight bearing with a sideward’s lean onto attempting to walk in this position. Depending on your partner the difficulty of these specific tasks varied; I felt that the height of your partner affected each task. I found it easier to attempt if my partner was a similar height to me. Persistence is key for any of these challenging tasks. Practice can only help how the tasks can then be developed.
For next session I am going to carry on researching and developing my knowledge for the module contact improvisation. I will put some of my individual targets into practice throughout the process in order to achieve the best outcome which is possible for me. Gaining confidence is a huge aspect of what I think will help develop my experience and to improve my engagement with module.
How do we break habitual patterns?
How does touch and sensation initiate movement?
Holt, D(2012) Touch: Experience and knowledge, Journal of Dance & Somatics Practices