Dance as therapy : Contact Improvisation

by Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Recently I got some dancers with a ‘feeling of disconnection’ with their body. Dance is first of all a ‘investigation’ in the body emotionally and mechanically, but also it is massively important the use of the environment. I did few workshop in contact improvisation and I found very useful, so I decided to apply some of their technique in my dance one to one session.

One aspect that I’m really intrigued by is that with these kind of exercise every body which is different in shape has the occasion to express also the different personality behind… simply expose people to some ‘criteria’ of movement and see where their investigation took them. Investigations with people with very different physiologies (examples: cerebral palsy, paralysis) and minds (examples: down’s syndrome, dislexia), can be helpful to discover the connections between the mind and the body, but also your own body and the environment.

When I was around 16, I remember I had a dance- teacher that was a mime artist and a dancer. She used to start the class with a relaxation and exploration of the environment (floor and walls)  imagining we just arrive in to the world and we had to crawl, move and discover what was around us. At the beginning it felt really weird and difficult, then in time, when it is clear there is not a right or wrong way to move on the floor, or slide the wall you start to understand that it is all about your way to react to the world and make your body presence consistently move in the different situations.

Self-investigation of the body is a large part of dance especially in mature dancers. It is also difficult accept limitations: what we can do and what we can not do it…

Few things to know…

  • Physics — Physics of bodies moving through contact. We experiment body actions and reactions with the floor, the rebound and the falls, also the reaction between 2 bodies when the come closely.  If we choose to investigate them, it gives us a kind of  tank of emotions. Aesthetics were very secondary to function. 
  • Stand — a simple observation. Scan and map the environment.
  • Rolling Point of Contact — pushing, rolling, pressing it is a very good way to understand your body and the partner body, it is also about trust and relaxation…we do not hold weights, we shift weights.
  • Falling and rolling … movement into and out of the floor. Fluidity, balance, continuum
  • Weight Shifting, Balance and off-balance —exploring duet choreographies, shifting weights, challenge balance.
  • Alignment, structure, body-use and organization … Through our skeletal alignment and body-use, we can lift  weight with natural elegance and freedom.  Intelligent use of the body substitutes hold and lift weights. At first, we look at alignment in static situations… then dynamic, then with other bodies. You can experience your body re-organization when there is a change of situation for another body presence  or a limitation.
  • Listening and following — the dance is following into the unknown. Flow in the space and make some moves alone or with others gives you the opportunity to explore inside your body and what is around you.

Watch the video ‘The play of weight’…and enjoy!

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