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Contact Improvisation

  • Contact Improvisation is a dance and movement form that allows people to move together in a spontaneous way. In doing so, people experience what it is to reach a state of creative flow, dance and play with one another. 

    Developed as an artistic project at the start by Steve Paxton in the 70s, it evolved into a creative social practice that can be found all over the world.

    Contact Improvisation is a big passion of mine and with my new project Towards Underscore, it is my wish to guide people into its rich world - taking them on the one hand back to the beginning and the essence, and on the other hand further by giving tools to use their body more in a naturally connected way, to refine the art of improvisation and by giving ways to open up the jam with the Underscore.

  • In contemporary dance we call Contact Improvisation a way of 'partnering', when two or multiple people find ways to move together. Traditional cultural forms like salsa, argentinian tango, ballroom or latin american dancing could be seens as a form of partnering.

     

    CI distinguishes itself by letting go of the leading/following  way of relating between dancers - which is traditionally gendered.

     

    In doing so Contact Impro creates a opportunity for people to meet each other on more equal terms and this suits certain peoples needs in how to relate to another human being. 

  • Contemporary Dance in the artistic field, as well as the above mentioned social forms can be technical and aesthetically oriented. CI specifically doesn't focus on the rigid ideas of shape and form.

     

    Touch, connecting by weight sharing, supporting each other are foundational to enter into the dance; balance, momentum and direction are properties of movement that have the dancers attention.

     

    And then, listening, following, allowing and adapting are intentions that one keeps present in the mind while moving and using the body.

  • From a somatic perspective the body is a part of us, and - just like with our emotions and cognition - we have develope habits of movement that suit our lives. Whether these habits are useful or not, somatic approaches (like Feldenkrais, Alexander technique, Chi Kung, Yoga) to the body make it possible to unlearn and relearn ways that are more suitable for the life someone is living, and that includes the way to move and the ways the posture is coming to bear.

    Somatically, outside shape is a less important factor when talking about how we stand, sit or move. We look at how the body and its parts is functioning. The main principle is to acknowledge natures' design and that our body is organised from the perspective of alignment to gravity. What is important to realise it that this perpective is holistic in its nature.

     

    To enter the dance from a somatic perspective on the body can give people the opportunity to dive into their being and their creative existence. We gain more and more clarity on ways to embody ourselves.

     

    Authentic physicality comes from the inside out by means of these principles and allows for connecting the inner experience with the moment one  is in.

  • Improvisation is about the ability to allow for spontaneity so that our inner experience is aligned with the situation we are in.

     

    When one is able to release the willful movement, a certain space appears in which the dancers can experience the creative flow, spontaneity of movement and the joining of the dance with the dancers in CI. 

     

    We are aiming for the state of 'being moved', in a intelligent, participatory way that has agency and clarity. This becomes more apparent when we we embrace the somatic perspective of the body. The somatic opens the door to become more of a intelligent mover and we can discover the more and more how impactful this approach is. 

  • Aligning ourselves to Contact Improvisation so we can enjoy its qualities there are workshops, classes and jams - the most common ways that CI is available.

     

    Generally in workshops and classes one gets the opportunity to dive into CI, and the many aspects of that are present when dancing. People new to the form and the more experienced ones are coming together to enjoy and grow into CI. People develop insight and ability with their bodies, so that they can align themselves with more opportunity for movement when dancing with others. Also, because one gets more acquainted, the experience of the moment gets to be more and more affecting.

     

    In jams, dancers are moving in a open space in which their experience with the form and their own creative being are fueling the moment. Jams are spaces in which people improvise with movement and dance, it is a creative and social dance event.

    It is my pleasure to help people gain more clarity, skill, connection with all the aspects that are much valued about Contact Improvisation. I have been teaching many years and there are many more to come. Towards Underscore is my most complete program up till now and I am looking forward to dive in.

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I have been teaching dance and movement for 20 years now. Because I have a big appetite and curiosity for movement, my path made me able to practice and teach contemporary dance and physical theatre, thai massage, tai chi and chi kung. These are the body oriented practices that are informing  my approach to Contact Improvisation. 

Teaching at the Freiburg CI Festival in 2014 was a turning point for me. It was such a full experience to be submerged in CI with all these experts, teachers and enthusiasts. I decided to commit myself to sharing CI in the Netherlands.

And so I started to organise monthly workshops and jams for several years in the region of Tilburg and Eindhoven. Later, I added weekly classes. In 2019 I started to co-organise the yearly The Netherlands Contact Improvisation Festival with Tom Goldhand and Janine Brouwer. In 2023 we added another multiple days event to our program - the CI Gathering in Tilburg. 

At the academie of Amsterdam I teach at the mime department. The first few years this was contemporary dance technique, but when CI became a bigger part of my practice, I started to develop a form of partnering based in CI, which has a high dynamic and has taking risks as the main focus. In this form we make the agreement that the support can be taken away when you least expect it, we are only responsible for ourselves and trust that the other can manage the surprises. This work is an exciting approach in which the students and I develop a deeper trust in our instinctual body, learn to deal with a fast changing environmnent of mobility and have a lot of fun. 

A short description
of my background in teaching CI

  • In this program we will dive into Contact Improvisation, how improvisation can give us a a rich, creative dancing space is when we can let go of the need to impose our will and follow where the dance takes us.

    I would like to offer my  experience to people who are interested in enriching their dance and refining their body as the instrument for dancing. Both movement and mindset will be a point of interest to us in this program.

    This program consists of 6 workshops on Contact Improvisation alternating with 6 online classes on posture and movement from a somatic perspective.

     

    This structure will create space and time to dive deep and develop something meaningful.

  • Underscore is a loose yet clearly defined framework for practicing and researching dance improvisation and Contact Improvisation in particular.

    Dancers tend to develop a deeper embodied understanding of what Contact Improvisation can bring when practicing The Underscore. It is developed in the 90’s by Nancy Stark Smith (one of the founders of Contact Improvisation). She identified the characteristics, situations, phases and states of an event where people improvise together -  clarifying the spontaneous unfolding of collectively improvised dancing and framed them into The Underscore.

    From Nancy's website:

    The Underscore is a long-form dance improvisation structure developed by Nancy Stark Smith. It has been evolving since 1990 and is practiced all over the globe.

    The Underscore is a vehicle for incorporating Contact Improvisation into a broader arena of improvisational dance practice; for developing greater ease dancing in spherical space—alone and with others; and for integrating kinesthetic and compositional concerns while improvising. It allows for a full spectrum of energetic and physical expressions, embodying a range of forms and changing states. Its practice is familiar yet unpredictable.

    The practice—usually 3 to 4 hours in length—progresses through a broad range of dynamic states, including long periods of very small, private, and quiet internal activity and other times of higher energy and interactive dancing.

  • The workshops are designed to progressively go into more ability of moving with others. It will develop understanding how one is able to 'sink' or 'release' into an inspired state of improvising and being able to navigate oneself in and through the various states, phases and situations in a jam (or any other creative event) to experience the richness of dance and connecting with others in the way CI does.

    In the online sessions we will learn what it means to refine and tune our bodies.  We will have exercises and body research in the lines of Chi Kung and Feldenkrais. And so you will also have material to practice outside of the sessions, should that be of interest to you.

     

    The sessions are aimed to develop the ability to listen to the body through the language of weight, support, connection, pressure, and groundedness. We will nuance our sensations so we are able to distinguish tissue, elasticity, bones, fluids. We will feel what tension arises from bracing, we will realise what it means to align ourselves to the gravitational field. Doing so, we become more ready for the mobility and mindset of Contact Improvisation. 

    I designed the online sessions and workshops to complement each other, and that we can stay in touch quite regulary to get the feel of being part of a group. In that way the program has an unfolding into dancing from of place of understanding and cultivation. We work together towards agency of ourselves, our bodies and Underscore as a foundation and essence of Contact Improvisation. 

  • Dates are not confirmed yet, but I am aiming for:

    - 28/29 september, 

    - 19/20 oktober, or 26/27 oktober or 2/3 november

    - 27/28/29 december

    - 25/26 januari 2025

    - 22/23 februari

    - 19/20 april

    Location: Tilburg and Den Bosch (limited sleeping option available)

    The online sessions will get a date as soon as the studios are reserved. I am aiming to have the online sessions in between the workshops, in the middle somewhere. This will give us opportunity to stay in touch quite regulary.

    Sessions will be around 2 hours.

    Price: 800-850-900 euros (payment in 2-4 installments is possible)

    Registration: will be open when everything is confirmed. With this link you can share your email! Then I know that your are interested in this program. I will keep you up to date if there is any development. 

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