Contact improvisation: with each other, with the floor, and with everything else

Our second Dance Theatre session with Alys North was very different to the Brian experience, and offered a taster of several difference concepts.

We began with a dynamic Pilates-based warm-up and some animal-esque movement which led us neatly to floorwork, looking at the use of elbows and hands to “get in and out of the floor”. Floorwork is a feature of a lot of contemporary dance but not something I had ever really thought about or tried – nor did it come naturally, as my instinctive tendency is to try and avoid the floor rather than use it. Being more comfortable with using the floor is definitely something to work on.

Moving onto partnered work we experimented with rolling and balancing against one another to find moments of balance and shared weight. Focusing on manipulation of the pelvis we worked on leading and following speed and direction, then on various ways of lifting each other, finding moments of flight that came from being grounded. This set of exercises awakened a very different kind of body awareness and creative flow – it felt good to be free to experiment and explore what worked and didn’t.

Finally we looked at improvisation with objects, moving around the space with a ‘toddler mindset’ and allowing ourselves to become distracted and explore everything in it. Settling on a random object – in my case, a bench – we then brainstormed different things that it could represent (a bit like the ‘Props’ game from Whose Line Is It Anyway) before settling on one scenario to develop and show, thinking about how to convey our relationship to the object and how we felt about it. My ‘near-suicide-off-the-top-of-a-tall-building’ was perhaps a bit depressing but I enjoyed the drama nonetheless!


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