Due to thoroughly enjoying myself in the previous session, I felt that this experience of exploring new ideas enabled me to let go and start to feel comfortable in Contact Improvisation. I was excited for the outcome of today.
We began the session by comparing two different demonstrations of contact improvisation; ‘The play of weight’ (2009) and ‘Contact Improvisation’. We compared and discussed the dominance of the over and under dance. Both pieces were performed by and male and a female. However throughout ‘The play of weight’ the male remains the most dominant as the under dancer as it is natural and also habitual as it is suitable for the contrasting height difference. The male being the under dancer has the majority of responsibility throughout. Within the piece ‘Contact Improvisation’ there is an equal play of weight transfer consistently throughout sharing the role of the most dominant. It is obvious to the audience which dancer is the most dominant not highlighting any particular significance to the gender identity.
As a class we all generally struggle to improvise individually. Personally, I think this is due to habitual patterns being present as the initial feeling of improvising alone can be quite daunting. The movement ideas which I usually play with can often create habitual patterns which I find myself struggling to come out of; I usually break into the specific dance technique which I have trained and studied throughout my dancing life. I think that this could possibly be a comfort thing for me. The task which we set was to explore movement travelling across the room as an individual, incorporating movements such as; spirals, rolls, floor work and making sure that the floor absorbs our bodies. I really enjoyed experimenting with different ways of moving as I felt like I had the opportunity to let my body go creating a natural relaxed improvisation. This definitely helped me think about ways of improvising alone, especially how to include this within our improve jam’s. I am going to apply all of these key component’s to hopefully help break any habitual patterns which I create during improvising.
Why is improvising alone so difficult?
After watching some demonstrations of the ‘Surf and roll’ and the ‘aikido partner roll’. We had the opportunity to explore these ways of contacting with a partner.’ The surf and roll ‘was very difficult to initiate and I felt a sense of awkwardness throughout my body. My body also felt controlled by my partner, finding it challenging to anticipate where the movement was going to take us. Contact should be sustained through the centre of the body at all times using the sensation of touch through the torso. I think that this will help to visualise in my head the sensation whilst moving. It should also improve each time this is practiced. I also felt that I was becoming frustrated as every partner I tried this with my movement was starting to feel isolated and in some ways stuck. However I felt that the ‘aikido partner roll’ was more successful and straight forward for me to achieve. The singular roll has been addressed in previous sessions so putting it together with a partner was a simple task. The idea of moving through a lift in order to keep the movement flowing is very important because if we keep continuous movement within our improvisation our bodies will remain safe. I found that helping each other to transfer weight whilst rolling enabled the process to become more efficient. ‘’ Learning where and how ones contact partner sense and carries their center of gravity is essential to the development of trust and physical rapport.’’ (Ptashek, 1988, P160) Trust is very important to be able to be to contact responsibly and safely.
We then did a small improvisation exercise to find ways of smoothly transitioning movement from the ‘surf and roll’ to the ‘aikido partner roll’.
Why do some people work better together more than others?
We started off laid in a position with both torso’s connecting listening to the initiation of breath. We linked this with Steve Paxton’s ‘Small dance’. I found that this exercise was very challenging which pushed our bodies, exceeding boundaries which are not familiar to us.
Changing partners, we stood back to back finding momentum to find the sea saw effect. Scooping under to find momentum that will take you up. Finding anchor points are essential whilst contacting; taking the bodies off the floor finding surfaces such as the shoulders or hips as they can initiate different contact points.
I discovered that using these lifts if executed correctly could be used in our improve jams. The only thing I would be concerned about is how to exit and enter safely throughout a jam. Our bodies should be taken off the floor with less active muscular tension. ‘’The muscular and neuromuscular are being filled with sensations becoming a direct source for communication between still or moving partners.’’ (Ptashek, 1988, P162)
Overall, I think that the outcome of today’s session was very inspiring as I feel that I am slowly progressing in the right direction of contact improvisation. I feel that my confidence is beginning to develop which is helping my work become more efficient. I am going to target my weaknesses in each of the remaining sessions to focus on achieving the best possible outcome for the end of the module.
Curtis, B. & Ptashek, A., 1988. Exposed to Gravity. Contact Quarterly Contact Improvisation Sourcebook I. Vol. 13. ed. s.l.:s.n.