BUILDING BLOCKS: SPECIFIC SKILLS TO MORE FULLY PRACTICE CONTACT IMPROVISATION
Contact Improvisation (CI) is an alternative partnering form based on gravity, momentum, weight-sharing, rolling, lifting, and falling. Internationally, many of the same building blocks are taught as specific skills needed to embody Contact Improvisation more fully. Students are introduced to these building blocks, often short body puzzles in duet form, and gradually apply these skills to more free form improvisation. Thus, though CI is an improvisational form, it is also a technique full of skills that are necessary in a similar way that a jazz improviser does intense practice, aka woodshedding, and skill building in order to improvise with finesse, power, and agency. By having the students create a compendium of these building blocks, they will become more clear about each skill and how this form is grounded in techniques versus only being free form, and they will create a CI resource.
THE STUDENTS WILL BUILD A VIDEO COMPENDIUM OF CONTACT IMPROVISATION SKILLS
LIFE PRACTICES: SPECIFIC WAYS CONTACT IMPROVISATION CAN TRANSFORM YOU
& BE APPLIED TO YOUR DAILY LIFE
SHARED WRITING BY STUDENTS
“I had [a] serious eating disorder (overeating) due to an excessive diet from body anxiety before I took Contact Improvisation class. I felt insecure and awkward at the first class, but everyone was so serious about this art form and seemed to quite enjoy themselves in the slightly free falling of their bodies. That was the moment when I made up my mind to close my eyes and simply feel the existence of my body.
It is not exaggerating at all [to say] that contact improvisation has cured my body anxiety. When I said in class that the dance studio is the only place so far on this earth that I am able to feel my body positivity and security, I did mean it. I no longer feel the division of my mind and body, and I don’t allow my mind to judge my body anymore—in fact, it is contact improvisation that allows my body and mind to unify.
When I’m dancing, my mind is always in an unconscious state and following the momentum to see where my body leads me. Every movement is a surprising adventure to prove to myself what more my body is capable of. I have stopped detesting my own body, for I could feel there’s such a secret garden hidden inside it that each time I try harder, I discover more. Our lives as modern people are way too delicate in some ways. I almost forgot what it was like to feel my body on the ground—the very pure enjoyment I always had as a kid. With my body weight, I fall, then I try to balance as quickly as possible. The world is my playground. My mind is playing with my body; it’s not overthinking and leading me to some self-depreciation vortex anymore. Body weight isn’t something scary; it allows me to feel my momentum, to feel the earth, to feel the flow, or, to feel alive.
Also, having contact with people helps with my body insecurity as well. In the past I could not help but feeling self-abased about my body and avoided making physical contact with others. However, contact improvisation pushed me at first, and then allows me to feel the skeletons, skin, body structures of other people. I am enjoying the sensations of touching right now, for CI makes me realize that despite different sizes, genders, races, etc., we are all humans after all.” – R.S.