my new friend, contact improv
What I want to talk about is my new friend, contact improvisation.
In case you're new to the concept like me, my basic explanation would be:
In contact improv, bodies come into contact and improvise movement.
There are many, many, oh-so-many people who can explain and show this evolved and complex practice far better than me. Like how about these folks at Edam in Vancouver:
Until yesterday I was familiar with contact improv in the academic sense, but not in the carnal sense. Truth be told, I have always been afraid of it. From what I understood, it involved a lot of touching people, making up complicated/difficult movement on the spot, and being lifted a lot. These elements might be okay in isolation, but taken together they're a whole other beast.
Cut to today - In the past 48 hours my contact improv cherry was popped. And I'm feeling pretty good about it.
Jessica is leading us through a gradual evolution to more involved contact work. She's helping us down that road by offering some common physical vocabulary. For example, today we learned how to 'body surf' - basically rolling over someone as they roll on the floor. Building our physical vocabulary is creating a tool box for us to scrounge around in when we're practicing.
We started with a circle of trust exercise yesterday (you know it, you did it at camp - one person stands in the middle of a tight circle and is moves around, supported by the hands of the people in the circle) and moved into our first 'contact improv jam' today. We began sitting back to back with a partner, and when Jessica turned on the music we just started moving.
In retrospect, I'm not really sure how I did it. All I can say is that it felt natural. At one point, Genevièvelifted me up onto her back and held me there. She took all of my weight, and I felt it, a complete release. She held me for a long moment before I realized we were the only people moving and everyone else was watching our progress. This is one of the really valuable end results of this practice, especially for our purposes; the images, moods, and relationships created between people moving in space. Everything we are creating and exploring is fodder for future exploration and use.
I think contact improv is my new friend.