18/11/15 Week 8 – Contact Research Labs

Blog Week 8 ‘Contact research labs- structuring, investigating, performing and reflecting’

The main focus of today’s session was the presentation of our research labs; it was a continued followed up on our previous work which we have developed within our groups. I thoroughly enjoyed discovering new findings which will contribute to the development of the work which we produce in contact improvisation.

In my group for the research lab there is; Yasmin, Anna and Lizzy. The questions which we chose to explore were: ‘How does dynamics effect a jam situation?’ and ‘How can transitions initiate and influence improvisation with another person?’ We chose these questions particularly because we felt that the research produced from today’s session would be beneficial in contact improvisation or a contact jam. We executed these tasks especially to discover how dynamics can influence movements, become aware and break any habitual patterns and experiment with new explorations and new sensations. Due to having only approximately 30 minutes the tasks which we set would need to be efficient and straight forward to fit into the time limit. As learnt from the previous session the more complicated the exercises are the, the benefit wouldn’t be useful for our research labs.

The first question we chose to explore was; ‘How dynamics effect a jam situation?’


-With a partner experiment with the initiation of breath, once finding the connection develop into an improvisation.

-Once the connection and contact is established start to slowly increase the speed to 50 %

-Slow the movement down (minimum internal movement)

-Include both speeds and ranges of dynamics and differentiate between the two as many times as you possibly can.


  • As the performer when did you notice habitual patterns starting to occur?


  • As the observer when did you notice habitual patterns starting to occur?
  • As the performer when did you feel that you had the best connection with a partner?


  • Do you think that what we’ve discovered would benefit you in a jam?


  • How did performing second influence your movement after observing?



My peers generally observed that when the speed of movement increased there was no time to pre-empt what movements you would perform during the improvisation. Not initially thinking to make the body automatically create movements which are habitual. However this was very interesting as when I observed this task habitual patterns starting to occur during the beginning of the improvisation when a stable connection was being established. I think that the reason for this potentially might be because of the slowness of the movement as the movement capacity was only minimal and could even be internal. The movement seemed to be influenced by the connection of their partner; the stronger the connection the stronger range of movement and dynamics. The strength of the connection also had a huge impact on the amount of contact used, taking time to feel each other’s movement can help you feed off each other to create a stronger, continuous improvisation. The task particularly helped my peers as they now know ways of initiating the level of speed and dynamics to develop the range of movement of an increased speed. The confidence improved by the end of the task as on a whole my peers felt more comfortable performing improvising at a faster speed; it especially helped when they were differentiating between the two different qualities. I defiantly found out from observing and also receiving feedback that finding new sensations and dynamics can help influence movements which will be beneficial in a jam situation. The feedback we received was very generous and helped us develop answers to the questions in our research labs.

The second question which we thought would be beneficial to us as a group was ‘How can transitions initiate and influence improvisation with another person.’ We hoped to discover how different transitions can initiate a more efficient way of improvising.


  • 2 people enter the space exploring as many different ways of possible.
  • Improvise with the person with you in the space for a short period of time leading to finding a way out in a non – habitual way
  • Individually travelling through space improvise becoming aware of movements which do not include; walking or running. (The idea being to explore new and interesting ways of entering and exiting the space.)


  • Do you feel more confident now you’ve experimented with different transitions?


  • After exploring with different transitions do you think this will help you during a jam situation?


  • Did it help find new and interesting ways of contact?



The feedback we received was very positive as the problem of entering and exiting space is holding us back, especially in our contact jams. The outcome of the tasks helped prove that there are different ways of creating transitions which do break any habitual patterns created. From observing this particular task I notice how uncomfortable people can be as it is quite daunting especially when all eyes are on you. We thought that this specific task would a good way to help our peers build their confidence so that it becomes comfortable to perform transitions which will benefit them during contact improvisations. I also observed that the running motion was used to enter and exit the space, I’m not sure whether this is a self-conscious thing or if they just wanted the action to happen as quickly as possible. The general response to this was the majority of people found that they became nervous as they couldn’t predict their movement choice before entering the space. This could have been the fear of having no knowledge of what actions the person chosen to share the space with was going to perform.

My peers enjoyed the task as it was a subtle way of building up an improvisation as they would usually pre-empt movement. They noticed that the movement they created was non-habitual and it was a better way to enter and the exit the space. Exiting generally being the problem. The exact answer we were hoping to discover from our topic was that; yes transitioning between movements in interesting ways does initiate improvisation.


I particularly enjoyed group 4’s research lab today, perhaps because it is something we have never challenged ourselves to do before. The task was to get into a circle with someone entering the space, the next person to enter the space would change the dynamics to influence movement. This task enabled us with the power to initiate movement; responding to different dynamics trying to break any habitual patterns created. I felt the improvisation internally for the first time and discovered my capability of improvising alone. Something which I have always feared. It was a way of pushing our boundaries by taking on someone else’s dynamic helping with the connection of feeding off someone else. I found it very interesting how the improvisation worked considering the surrounding environment and the people around us.

The challenge of the research labs has influenced my outlook on contact improvisation and developed my boundaries which will influence my contact work. I didn’t expect the outcome of the research lab to be this successful. I am going to incorporate my knowledge and findings of today’s session and incorporate them into my contact improvisation and the contact jams.

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