Contact Improvisation: What You Should Know About The Experimental Dance Form

Atmaj Vyas , 26 Mar 2018

We all love to dance! Whether it’s professionally or just a random happy dance, there is no denying the amount of joy it brings us. It is one of the most liberating and freeing experiences in the world. While there are many forms of dance that exist, more and more new ones have emerged over the decades. These dance forms, which draw their inspiration from experience, life and culture are just as mesmerizing as the classics. One such experimental dance form is contact improvisation. To learn more about this interesting dance form we caught up with Sindes Jabore, who is an amazing dancer and also happens to specialise in contact improvisation.

What is contact improvisation?

Contact improvisation is a partner based dance form that relies on the physical principles of touch, momentum, shared weight, and most importantly, following a shared point of contact. This dance practice explores the skills of falling, rolling, counterbalance, lifting using minimal effort, how to make ourselves light when being lifted, centring and breathing techniques, and responsiveness to our partners and surroundings.

How did it start?

The form was founded in 1972 by Steve Paxton. Integrating his background as a modern dancer and his studies in the martial art form Aikido, Steve developed Contact Improv through explorations with his students and colleagues at the time. Since the time it was first conceived and presented, contact improvisation has had a huge impact on the way people look at movement and the intricacies of dance.

How is it different from any other dance style?

In contact improvisation, one learns to recognize and differentiate subtle impulses in our movement choices and our partner’s choices. You begin to decipher the cues that you give and receive which tell others when to lead or when to follow. It also tells you when to go up or when to go down, where to touch, how to lift, when to slow down, and when to be still. In this form, one learns to stay in integrity with each choice, never forcing, never rushing. Each moment is polished, deliberate and flows into another. It truly is magnificent.

What do we think about it?

Contact improvisation is like watching moving art. It’s about a flow, a technique and mastering that. But most importantly, it’s about expressing your true nature. Each movement you see is one that is thought out meticulously that not even the breath you take is a wasted one. It’s actually a liberating experience to see how instinctive your body and mind can be. By no stretch of the imagination is it “easy”, but it isn’t something so farfetched that you couldn’t try it. It’s an amazing way to find out truly what you’re capable of and what it feels like to go with the flow.

When body, mind, and spirit are united in their instinctive wisdom one finds ones-self at home in every moment, expressing one’s true nature. While it isn’t the only dance form that pushes the boundaries of expression, it sure as hell is just as mesmerizing than any other mainstream forms.

Information courtesy Sindes Borges.

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