For those of you who have heard me talking about contact improv and how much delight in it I’ve found and how a steady engagement with this art form has influenced my asana practice, there will be a great opportunity to get the basics at the morning workshop session on August 24th at Dance Exchange in Takoma Park.
Many thanks to my friend Leslie for coordinating the workshop. For more information and to register, click here.
Hope to see many of you there. For those more comfortable with movement, dance, and the form, there will be more opportunity to dance all day.
If you’re out of town and interested, email me separately about a possible visit.
Today, there were to be 1,000 artists at the inauguration. I saw a few of them on this weekend’s walkabout, and studied for a morning with a dancer and movement artist who was participating (David Lakein; contact improvisation workshop at Dance Exchange). The class was thought-provoking and suitable for the weekend honoring the inauguration. On the morning of the inauguration, we, after not having made any attempt to get tickets of whatever sort, ended up being invited in to the Koshland Science Museum for free hot chocolate and a comfortable place to view it on a big screen. Not quite the power of being huddled against the cold with hundreds of thousands of other people on the Mall, but still, not too shabby for a completely impromptu way to share the event with others.
Thursday night, I took a dance improvisation workshop at Dance Exchange, the second in a series of three workshops. One of the exercises we did was in groups of two. The game was to do simultaneous improvisation. Without designating a particular person as a leader, each dancer was to try and stay in synchronized movement with his or her partner. When we were done with the exercise, some of the dancers talked about their goal having been to be in control of the lead or trying to push their partner past his or her edge. I had been innocently (or perhaps naively) unaware of these dynamics, as I had been seeking to find where the dance could be the leader rather than either partner.
After the workshop, when I was walking to the metro with the teacher and another participant, both of whom are performers in their 20s, I raised the issue of people trying to push others past their edge (I’d held off raising it in the group as it seemed too many were in a different space). I said that knowing that my partner was a lot less flexible than me, though lots stronger, and knowing his competitive edge, I never would have tried to push him beyond his physical limits.
The teacher said he liked being pushed past where it seemed like a good idea; it made him get to another place. I agreed that it is good to try to expand, to go beyond what we think are our limits. I have been taught, though, by my teacher John Friend, not to blow past my limits. Rather, in the practice of Anusara yoga, we seek to be intimately and exquisitely aware of our edge at every moment, and then expand it. The game with the partner using this paradigm would have been to find the edge and then see if the dance could expand it rather than to try and exert control or see if we could push our partner past his or her limits at our partner’s risk. When we operate in a paradigm of straining and striving, or we push for control or try to compete with ourselves or with others, that is where we get injured. I’ve had my share of dance injuries, I added, but to continue dancing through the decades, I cannot be blowing past my limits, though I am still growing. I was not sure that what I said felt relevant, but I could also tell that it was information that went into the thought mix for later.