Our Contact Improvisation workshop was held over three consecutive Sundays and was led by guest instructor, Anne Cooper. Here's a little bit about Anne: she is a dancer, teacher, choreographer, and improviser. She's been teaching in Vancouver for 19 years and performing here for 25. Anne loves to engage with people from all walks of life through teaching and dancing together. She has trained in dance with many notable teachers including Ted Robinson, Chick Snipper, Peter Bingham, Nancy Stark Smith and many others, as well as in voice/theatre.
She has been a company member of EDAM for many years and danced in the recent 'EDAM Dance Presents' and has also danced for Mascall Dance, Chick Snipper and Helen Walkley among others. She's performed in a number of dance improvisations with various dance artists and musicians as well as creating and performing in her own dance work.
This workshop invited participants of all levels of dance or movement experience to come together to learn about contact improvisation; an improvisational dance practice grounded in a few basic principles including: standing meditation, the small dance, intuitive movement, point of contact, and partner dance. Anne skillfully guided us through these basic principles over the course of the thee weeks.
During the first workshop we focused on listening to our own bodies and about physical impulse. Participants were rolling on the floor, walking, sitting, standing, crawling, and moving their bodies in new ways. It was very exciting to see a group of strangers work so collaboratively and effortlessly with each other! We ended the class with a collective improvisation where all participants were invited to dance with each other using the new skills and principles we learned that day.
The second workshop explored the same principles as the previous week with the addition of a new skill, falling. Getting to the ground without hurting yourself or your partner is very important in contact improv so we practiced different ways to get to the ground using mats. Then we applies what we learned in our solo exploration and tried getting down to the ground with our partners. This was tricker than expected and it took me a few tries to feel comfortable.
But with this new vocabulary we were able to explore a more dynamic range of movement in our improvisations.
What I find fascinating with contact improv is how intimate you can be with someone you don't know. There is a beautiful connection that can blossom from two people silently dancing together. The dance is about articulating your own curiosity while simultaneously listening to what your partner is offering you. This back and forth feedback loop is, what I think, creates trust and a sense of community. One participant reflected that "contact improvisation is a metaphor for life itself."
During the third and final workshop we continued to deepen our investigation into these principles and skills. Participants continued to find different ways of moving through the room, using their bodies in new ways, and dancing with different partners. We ended the workshop with a final group improvisation which resulted in a collage of varying tempos, rhythms, duets, solos, and energies. There was a very special synergy that emerged from the bodies in the room.