This is an interesting moment in our journey of Dancing the Invisible. As Susie and I commented at our July meeting – although we delivered the (first) performance element in May, the project research is far from over. Keen to develop knowledge, experience and skills in improvisation I’ve just participated in ContactFestivalDartington …a week of contact improvisation in Falmouth curated by Malaika and Richard Sarco-Thomas and led by inspiring teachers – Lucia Walker, Charlie Morrissey and Mirva Makinen each of whom brought a distinctive flavour to their practice.
The Festival workshops were scheduled from 7.30am (yoga on alternate days) to 11pm: ‘jam’ packed. Engaging with a physically vigorous (- and risky!) dance form and, as the oldest? person in a diverse group of between 30 to 40 people, meant that each morning there was a new set of challenges: different approaches, new tasks, stamina!, physical activities and relational experiences. This is a place of both ‘surrender’ (a word that cropped up again and again) and staying whole – simultaneously immersed and alert …
Yes !!- these are characteristics of improvisation in any form: the ability to be in the moment and to read and respond to the flow of time. And here are further brief reflections on my experience:
Sensing flow: Closing the eyes helped me to make connections and read where the movement is going. I found if I concentrated on the breath, my body relaxed into the flow of energy and the dance ‘happened’; if I tried to apply new physical skills (mind acting on the body) the flow was interrupted – so in terms of raising my skill level, this form requires … practice! For now, I lean towards the slow still dances where ‘tuning in’ to the other dancers drives the action rather than technical skill. As another of my teachers, Roger Tully, says dancing is a ‘happening’ not a ‘doing’.
Beauty – in really ‘dancing’ with different people of different ages and experience. This practice is potentially a nourishing enriching experience, the giving and receiving of touch and weight requires sensitivity, trust and responsibility in equal measure. I loved that element of it . The connections that happen can by-pass the scrutiny of thinking according to rules, so it is fresh and surprising territory – full of wonder. And therein lies the beauty?.