Poetic Reflections on Contact Improvisation, Part III

Updated: Jun 20, 2020

In December of 2018 I was commissioned by the Israeli Contact Improvisation (CI) association to write about my experiences in the CI Greenhouse, an intensive 5-day-long festival that offers master classes, workshops and opportunities to meet and dance with movement artists from all over the world.


I wrote these words in the hopes of fostering a dialogue between the members of CI community as well as those who are not yet familiar with CI but might wish to explore the possibility of experimenting with bodies in motion and in stasis.


All the pieces I wrote about this event are dedicated to the memory of Shalhevet Naim who was a source of inspiration for many and who I was lucky enough to meet during her life time.




 

Part III: Becoming familiar with gravity; de-familiarizing dance


Dance has become a common word to describe movement that is not functional, movement that is not considered to be a means to an end.


When I observe the world through what I imagine to be a choreographer’s point of view, I see how every movement in the material world becomes a form of dance, to a point where stillness enriches and informs the moving particles—where gravity’s force is in fact a seductive dance partner that attracts bodies to negotiate their position and desires in relation to the earth’s magnetic attitude.


One of the intensives I visit at the Contact Improvisation Festival in Kfar Blum in December of 2018 is facilitated by Stephanie. In this session, dancers spend most of the time on the floor, moving slowly with our skulls against our partner’s pelvis, exploring the minute gestures that occur in our conscious minds and bodies, experiencing slowing down, getting used to a dance that doesn’t even feel like dancing. I’m getting cold, I’m not used to dance so slow and so low for long periods of time. At this moment in time this position feels too intimate to practice with strangers, perhaps too familiar to practice with unfamiliars.


Under – Standing

Empathy is so much easier to master when strangers look familiar;

each face is like one that I’ve seen before

like the contours that I’ve already caressed with my eyes and my shallow breath,

a mouth that I’ve already conversed with,

eyes that I’ve already searched through,

curve of lips that I’ve already kissed

in my imagination,

while sharing bagels, with mildly sweetened tea and dreams,

dreams that have no beginning, no truth, no reality, no glory–

just the common understanding that there’s nothing common in our standing under

the same skies, the same moon, the same stars.


It takes a while for me to come to terms with the realization that processes of learning take time, that understanding processes necessitate pushing through mis-understanding, that learning requires giving up what we know and accepting un-learning as the force that teaches us humility, that reminds us to allow ourselves the possibility of playing with the idea that perhaps our understandings of the world is not yet complete, that there is always space for re-discoveries, be these in the form of dance that reveals itself through the stillness or the stillness that our body accepts to remain in following what one might perceive as dance.

 

According to the lunar calendar, the world as we know it, has been attracting humans, animals, plants and other material objects to its core for the past 5779 years. If I was to imagine what the world looked like before gravity kicked in, I would say that we were bound to be in constant dance with the objects around us, like astronauts dancing in their dancing suits in sci-fi films, yearning for gravity to win them over.


With gratitude to gravity,

Liza Futerman

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