This week was our last ever contact improvisation lesson. What journey this semester has been in this module. One of the hardest modules practically I have ever done so far. But from this I have gained so much and taken so much away from this which I will take into modules in the next semester and level 3 and even into my career with me so I really feel this module has helped me greatly. 

I’ve definitely had my ups and downs in this module as it is so unpredictable it’s unbelievable. I’ve learnt that you are not always going to have a great lesson every time I walk into the studio to study this module its very hit and miss and you have to take the good days and the bad days on the chin and when you walk into the studio again for the next session you come in with a new attitude. 

When I first started contact improvisation its really daunted me, I was so excited to start it and actually get into it but it was very hard. Everything we learnt in the first lesson we have taken through to every session with me developing how I do this. I really loved the first few weeks after the first session was over when we started the roll and surf and table top exercises. I really feel like I have masters these now and feel very comfortable doing these with different people. 

When it came to the week after reading week which was going up week well that sent me into a lot of panic as I thought for 1. Are people able to take me up? 2. Am I going to be able to take people up? When it came to these sessions I really enjoyed being the over dancer and I felt really comfortable with specific people.  As the weeks progressed just when I thought I wasn’t good at taking people up and being the under dancer I really surprised myself by taking a lot of people’s weight and even Kye’s who is a lot taller than me so from this I feel a great deal of pleasure as I have accomplished something I didn’t think I was able to do at the start of going up week or at all for that matter. This gave me the confidence to trust more people being the over dancer so I started trying going up moves with more people being the over dancer and really started to trust them in the last few weeks of the semester. 

Throughout the semester like I’ve said in previous blogs we were encouraged to work with everyone with in our group and this I did as much as I could. I worked with lots of different people by the end of the module but at the start I had a great deal of anxiety which hit me a lot as I thought I only felt comfortable with certain people and them being my closest friends but as a result of being constantly told to work with different dancers I had to do this so the anxiety did ease off and I came more and more open to working with everyone in the class. When it came to lead and follow with our eyes closed which we had done in more than one lesson this is what hit me the most if am honest as I had all my trust in one person’s hands. I worked with Sarah, Chloe, Jess and Laura. The hardest would have been Laura as we were in a trio for this but when we started like I had said previously she wrapped her arms round us both and made us feel safe. Sarah’s was somebody else who I hadn’t worked with a lot and I didn’t trust as all but from working with her again in different classes I feel a lot more comfortable with her. This was the hardest part of contact improvisation for me. 

This year’s reading was hard there was a lot and it was very heavy and at first, I dint think I would get through them but being in reading groups really helped me when it came to the theory as I struggled. At the start of the semester I really struggled to understand some of the readings even when we put them into my practices but as contact improvisation as developed I’ve gone back and gone over them again and everything has become a lot clearer to me. 

I think at first the hardest outcome to achieve was using and working with others safely and confidently until the last few weeks when I felt confident to do this. This was definitely a problem for me at the beginning but seeing other people work with others gave me the confidence to work with others. I did this a lot in lessons but I found it hard to do this confidently so now I feel like I can finally say that I feel comfortable with working with the different participants in my class. This was one of the only outcomes I felt was really hard and achieving this I would have hoped to of achieved all of the outcomes given for this module. 

Over all I have taken so much away with me during this full semester and I’ve enjoyed every part of the semester even when times did get tough and hard because I couldn’t do certain movements but I feel like I have really achieved a lot through my time and can say that I am pleased with myself with how I’ve performed in every single lesson putting in all I had to each session. There wasn’t one lesson that I didn’t enjoy so overall I have really enjoyed every part of the module even though it has been one of my hardest. 

This week’s contact improvisation was so enjoyable but also at the same time very hard. I really enjoyed the first half of this session which was the underscore which is a structure for contact improvisation. The session consisted of individual and partner work throughout the first half off of the session. I worked with many different people in this part. As we walked around the room our teacher would should out different underscores (structures) in order to create dialogue and movement with one another. Because of there being an odd number people were sometimes forced to create movement on their own for example, skineshpere was called out due to people being in partnerships already I used this to explore the limitations on my own. Trying to find the different sensations I could give my own body and how I could counteract movement from this.
I manage to remember a lot of what I had learnt throughout the past 6 weeks in this session, I was tested a lot by the limitations that were given and then also the explorations of the structure when in partnerships, in the sense of trying to stop my habitual movements and to try explore different ways of going up and the different movements that could be created when coming down and out of the going up lifts.
I became the under dancer a lot in this session, I really enjoyed exploring the different ways of taking people up and out of the floor. I made some great connections with Chloe, Kye and Jess and this was all in very different ways. All of these connections consisted of the same whether I was being the under or over dancer, on the floor or standing. Creating a sense of dialogue with in our bodies to create good under and over dancer moves and lifts, having an equal sense of gravity in order to be safe when we were taking each other’s weight and lifting one another high, for example Kye took me very high off the ground and tipped me so my head was facing the ground we had to distribute our weights in order to be safe when doing this. Although it didn’t feel like I was doing this I wasn’t holding muscular tension in my body therefor it was easier for Kye to take me up above the ground safely.  Me and jess created great connection at the begging when it was to explore the lower kinesphere we remembered a lot of what we had done in previous lessons but also explored a lot coming out of these movements and the sensations we had given one another in order to move into something else with a sense of flow. Me and Chloe work together a lot outside of lesson time rehearsing and also together a lot in contact improvisation throughout the semester, there for our relationship and trust is so complete we feel at ease working with each other and don’t mind both being either the under or over dancer so our duet felt really good and complete. 

In the second half of our session we brought it into a jam. I feel a great deal of anxiety when it comes to jamming. I don’t really like the thought of one and even going in, but when I finally get into the space and create relationships I feel more at ease. This jam I really enjoyed, I made some great connections with people I hadn’t made connections with in a jam before. For example, Laura Carey and I for a great deal of the time during the jam. I instigating working with Laura by her before position which was Kye holding her in the air, I thought it would be great to catch Laura to put her down and from this the connections built and our constant connection of touch and sensations formed really well together. We were both negotiating being the under and over dance, so there wasn’t a clear over and a clear under dancers. The movements felt really at ease and complete they didn’t feel odd or out of the ordinary which was really nice to feel. The movements just flowed from one to another so there wasn’t any significant pauses in the movement which I felt was really good.
I also worked a little bit with Hannah in the jam and again both taking each other’s weight were as in previous lesson I haven’t trusted Hannah enough to take my weight but I finally felt ready to do so. Our sense of gravity was in the complete right place and was centred correctly therefore, when Hannah did take my weight I felt safe and comfortable.  

Overall I really feel like I explored as much as I could during this lesson and learnt a lot throughout the session. 

This week’s reading WHATS THE SCORE? By Maura Keefe was very confusing to get my head around. I understood the relation to dance improvisations and baseball. It spoke about how improvisation doesn’t have a set of rules but it has scores and how improvisation then has a structure to follow. It relates contact improvisation to the technique of the bowler when the bowler begins to bowl the ball. It states ” he dropped his weight way back onto his back leg” this as dancers we see as a form of technique its structure but the way he does this is improvised. As everything we do in life is a form of improvisation. 

In class today our first partner work exercise we did was a simple lead and follow exercise, something we have covered in lesson before but we revisited with different people. As there was an odd number in class I was with a three for this with both Laura and Jess. Me and jess found it so difficult to both be leading one person as we were both trying to determine the way we wanted Laura to go but of course there was two of trying to direct her so there for it seemed to be a bit all over the place. It was also very hard when we switched places as Laura then had to lead both me and Jess at the same time, to make this easier and safe she decided to wrap her arms around me and Jess instead of placing them on our lower backs we therefor knew what directions she wanted us to go in. Because Laura was leading two of us sometimes the pressure she wanted in my right side she would also do to jess which we would then sometimes collide and bump into each other at some points. At the begging of this when she started with the hands on our backs walking I had anxiety as I knew her job was harder.  

Did I trust her? 

When she then turned to cupping around our waist my anxiety went and I began to then trust her. It was great to see the use of the hierarchy nature used and thinking of the equality of all of our bodies. We then developed the following and leading into movements where our partners would touch a part of our body or do something to initiate movement. Our partners were encouraged to touch different parts of the body and apply different pressures to different parts, she had initiate different and out of the ordinary movements to get us out of our habitual movements that we would normally do. I was still with Laura for this, somebody I have never worked with in contact before which was really helpful has her body moves very different to mine. Just the way Laura touched my body parts and the different body parts I had never thought somebody would have touched, for example my fingers and the side of my body. Just simply using her fingertip gently gave me a completely different sensation to when I had done it before in class with somebody else. It made me explore different movements and really release my body and stop my normal and habitual movement I tend to do. My experience was so different in this exercise than it had been before or in any other exercises we had done like this, I really enjoyed working with Laura and I feel like I learnt a lot from this. 

For the last part of the lesson we were trying more going up lifts for example one I did with Jess was the arm to arm shoulder lift. This was a really hard lift very mentally challenging for both me and the under dancer. For this we decided that having spotters was the best option to keep everybody safe especially the over dancer as I was flipping over Jesses shoulder. With the help from Kirsty we did manage to get this lift once but the second time we tried this with the spotters’ jess had her sense of gravity in the wrong place and she actually fell backward with me in the air on top of her shoulder and fell onto the floor. With this lift sharing the sense of gravity and having our sense of gravity in the correct place was a really important. The placement of where I held onto jess and where she grabbed me was very important so we didn’t hurt each other. The main thing for me being the over dancer was to not hold any muscular tension but be able to hold my body in the correct place to help the momentum of Jess lifting me. 

 

 

Bibliography  

Keffe, M. What’s the score? In Albright, A.C,& Gere, D.(2003) Taken by surprise: A dance improvisation reader. Middletown, Conneticut: Wesleyan University press. Pp 223-235. 

Due to personal circumstances I didn’t attend today’s lesson. Further on from this we had two readings prior to read in preparation for this class. Although I didn’t attend the class I still did the readings for this session. 

One reading, Exposed to Gravity by Bruce Curtis and Alan Ptashek and then the second reading, Dancer- Dance – Spirituality: A phenomenological exploration of Bharatha Natyam ad contact improvisation by Aparana Ramaswamy and Daniel Deslauriers. 

Exposed to Gravity really seemed to click for me and was the one reading I really understood because we have had a reading previously about Gravity, Centre of Gravity by Ann Woodhull in week 6. 

Bruce Curtis a man in a wheelchair talking about his experiences and own bodily movement whilst sitting down. He talks about how his body moving and dancing in his wheelchair is just the same as anybody else’s movements that they can do stood up using everything in their body. ” this micro-movement was just as much dancing as what everyone else did with their whole body”. (Curtis, B. 1998. 156) his body is just as able as anybody else’s even though he is in a wheelchair his moves are just as much dance as for example mine are who is able to walk. 

Curtis talks greatly about how it does not matter how his body is your just as able as anybody else and it’s how you use your disability to your advantage and how you explore your body being disabled. He states ” what is most important to remember is that each body, disabled or not, is unique and presents another opportunity to explore what movement is possible”. (Curtis, B. 1998. 157) this is really inspirational and Curtis hasn’t let his disability stop him from doing anything that anybody else can do. 

 Although he cannot feel the gravity under his feet his “chair has become a part of my body”(Curtis, B. 1998. 156) he states. Therefor in order to feel the sensations of gravity his chair does this for him. ” gravity is very noticeable to me since my muscles cannot stand in opposition to it.”(Curtis, B. 1998. 157). 

Contact improvisation has a great sensation feeling to it when creating contact with a different person, whether it’s just hand to hand or whether its other body parts touching one another. I know this due to my own experiences throughout the past 7 weeks in contact improvisation. The sensations I feel when somebody touches a body part and what movement follows on from the sensation I was feeling. This is exactly the same with Bruce Curtis. He feels sensations the same way as we do he still leads from movement to movement from the sensations he gets. He says ” through the point of contact, I would feel the potential for movement waiting to be released” (Curtis, B. 1998. 158). 

Music has a huge impact on our improvisation I know from past experiences in jams me as an individual definitely move to the rhythm of the music. Curtis talks how Alan discourages this, ” the body tends to move to the rhythm of the music, instead of the internal rhythm of shifting weight, sensations and the communication that goes back and forth.” (Curtis, B. 1998. 158). 

Although Bruce Curtis has that form of disability Alan Ptashek talks about how he uses the chair and still contacts Curtis by jumping and throwing himself on top him and his chair without any complications just like it’s somebody out of a wheelchair. Ptashek suggests that he’s found a safe way of doing this without injuring each other. ” I have learned and thrown my weight on Bruce and his chair from many angles and impulses”. (Curtis, B. 1998. 161). Like before they have to have their sense of gravity in the correct place just like anybody else in order to do these contact moves. 

This reading was so interesting so see the difference in Bruce Curtis but also the similarities in mine and his body because there is no different sometimes.  

 

Curtis, B. (1988). Exposed to Gravity. Contact Quarterly/ Contact Improvisation Sourcebook I, Vol. 13. Pp.156-162. 

This week’s reading, I felt was very relatable to everything that we have been doing over the past few weeks in lesson. Centre of Gravity by Ann Woodhull, the reading was about wat it says, the centre of gravity. She talks about wherever the centre of gravity is the body will follow. She also talks about the body as if it’s different segments and each part of the body an almost its own centre of gravity. Although she states the ” centre of gravity tends to stay around the belly”(Ann Woodhull, 1978, 45) she also states “think of the body as a set segment, each of its own mass and position” (Ann Woodhull, 1978,44) it almost like one compensates for the other without you knowing. It’s important to share the weight of gravity and also when working with partners to share the weight of gravity between you both a well, this is clearly demonstrated in our tasks in this lesson.  

This week was going up week which was really difficult and specially for me as I’m still not lifting in contact properly yet due to injury. Although it was hard I had so much fun being the over dancer and see where movements could lead to from this. 

We did a sea sore lift which although me and Chloe work together a lot n contact really struggled with this and simply couldn’t figure this out with each other. Our sense of gravity wasn’t equally shared so it made us off balance. If we were the under dancer we would put our hand underneath the over dancer’s hand which made it work but then when we were asked to develop this I found it hard as I had to put my hand over the top. The development moving the move forward continuously we then couldn’t do as we were changing hands. Therefor we know we need to work on sharing the weight equally and practice this so we can do it in a jam purpose. 

When then did a pencil catch which previously I had done this but to work with somebody knew was a different experience. I worked with Hannah on this and it worked really well the weight of gravity from both the under and over dance was in the correct place and the lift worked really well. In this situation I was the under dancer therefore, catching Hannah. I didn’t want Hannah to be the under dancer.  

Why? 

I didn’t trust her to catch me? 

There was the sense of anxiety that she might from me therefore we just keep going with me being the under dancer. The more we did this the better and easier it got we got a great sensation off each other. We just had to remember to be careful of each other for me not to catch her round her knees but because her sense of gravity was in the correct place it made it easier for me to catch her which was just under the gluteal this relates to what Ann Woodhall mentions ” When the body changes shape and the centre of the body changes”(Anna Woodhull, 1978, pg number) we had to change the weight for me from pulling her up to the ground to then a neutral position when I caught her. I then tried this with Laura and allowed Laura to lift me so that I was the over dancer. The anxiety had eased off as I saw her catch other people. This was all about the stability of the under dancer which the weight of gravity helps with. 

Another big lift we did which was really going up a lot was the paper clip lift which I tried with Rayanee. I was always the over dancer due to injury I didn’t have the full strength in my ankle to lift somebody that high. We worked on this movement a lot and pretty much manage to get this movement straight away. We kept on trying this movement as much as we could but due to excitement I pushed my sense of gravity to far over Rayanee which sent my pelvis to much over shoulder sending me to much over her which then she collapsed to the floor. The sensations were great that we felt at the begging ad we were getting it really well. Although this little mishap happened it didn’t stop me and Rayanne it made us more determined to make the movement to the best of our ability. It felt great to be finally going up it felt like I was flying it was a great feeling. The main points were to try not to hold muscular tension in my body or I just wouldn’t get up and I had to hold my body and find my sense of gravity but my centre of gravity doesn’t have to be in my body it can be out of the body as long as both of out positions were stable which the majority of the time they were. 

Woodhull, A. (1978) Centre of Gravity. Contact Quartrly,4, 43-48.