Week 6: ‘’Going up’’
My first thoughts for this specific part of the module which we covered in today’s session ‘’Going up!’’ was daunting and in some ways quite frightening. However, I was also quite excited. The importance of trust is essential to being responsible and keeping the experience of ‘’Going up’’ as safe as possible.
Why do some people find it hard to trust?
Every individual has different boundaries and trusting others can be difficult. Different people have their own insecurities; whether it is due to bad experiences of contact work in the past or just being scared of being lifted or dropped whilst going up into the air. Personally, I don’t have any reason to not trust so I find it easier to let myself go and to throw myself into it.
We began the session by exploring points of contact through the sensation of touch; which then developed into contacting together keeping a point of contact. I thought that this was very uncomfortable and bitty, nothing seemed to be fluid and show continuity. I struggled finding points of contact which initiated the movement. However as much as me and Anna both found this difficult as we have had a break from contacting whilst it was reading week, our tutor said that we looked quite comfortable and it seemed to work.
We went onto finding a partner, one in table top position whilst the other laid back to back full weight bearing onto their partner. Initially, finding the correct position on the back was quite difficult and felt uncomfortable. I think that this was because I was conscious of putting my full weight onto Sophie although I trusted her. She reassured me that we were both fine and I needed to shift my weight into the correct position. Once I had found the ideal position the balance was developed to shift the weight onto the hands and let gravity take your legs and body over the partners back to standing. I struggled on my first few attempts with the concept of going backwards. I think I was anxious which stopped me from letting go. My first attempt held me back as I lost control of my abdominals and fell straight onto my head. Although there should be no muscular tension as all of the muscles should be fully released, the abdominal muscles should still be engaged. The idea of letting gravity take the body over helped me when I put this into practice. Gravity is very important, particularly when going up. Woodhull states that ‘’the two forces (weight and support). Aiming past one another, create torque that turns the body. Whenever the center of gravity is not over the point of contact, the body tends to turn and fall on the side where the center of gravity is.’’ (Woodhull, 78-79, P44) This quote helps me get the sensation of letting gravity take me as it helps me visualize the image of how the movement should look. Eventually I got the correct way of this specific way of contacting and hope to develop this further by creating smoother transitions in and out of movement. Woodhull also says that’ ’in contact improvisations we purposely change the center of gravity in order to move.’’ (Woodhull, 78-79, P47) To be able to visualize and sense smoother transitions when we move, the center of gravity must change. I find it fascinating how the body automatically shifts the center of gravity when we are moving.
The most difficult task of today’s session was the ‘pencil jump.’ I found this very challenging as I could not anticipate the momentum of the jumper whilst bouncing to initiate the hold in the air. I couldn’t quite grasp this. Even though I struggled I did enjoy trying something new and I am willing to continue to practice so I have this for the next session. I need to play with the idea of going down to go up to help practice the anticipation of the momentum. The higher you jump the easier it will be for your partner to catch you. I began to get frustrated as it was so hard to judge the momentum to enable a hold in the air. Woodhull explains that ‘’one application of the center of gravity concept to a fast moving body is quite useful, though when the body is in air.’’ (Woodhull, 78-79, P48) The physics are very important in relation to skills in contact improvisation. As Woodhull also states that ‘’minimum velocity means minimum momentum (momentum = mass x velocity.) so that’s the time it is easiest for someone else to receive your body with least impact.’’ (Woodhull, 78-79, P48)
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my new experience of experimenting with different ways of going up. It required lots of concentration to keep myself and my peer’s safe whilst exploring ways of being taken off the floor. I enjoyed having the opportunity to work with different people as I found it a new experience working with each partner.
Why does the experience change when you work with different people?
There was some people I thought that I worked very well with and I felt comfortable so I was able to let myself go and put maximum effort into creating the best outcome. However I feared working with my peers who were a lot smaller than me as I worried that they wouldn’t be able to take my full body weight. To improve for the next session I am going to continue to develop my upper body strength and focus on strengthening my stomach muscles to help me gain the best possible outcome from the module.
Woodhull, A 1978-1979‘Contact Quarterly’s Contact Improvisation Sourcebook: Center of Gravity Vol 4 ed Northampton: Contact Editions