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  • Writer's pictureKaren Queller

A Morning Movement Ritual for Connection

The best way to start the day is with a bit of movement. But what kind? One of my suggestions is to play with a bit of Contact Improvisation.

What is Contact Improvisation?

Contact improvisation is a dance form that emerged in the 1970s, rooted in the exploration of physical contact and shared weight between two or more people. It’s a dynamic practice led by spontaneous movement, nonverbal communication, and the interplay of gravity, momentum, and trust. Contact improvisation allows dancers to communicate through touch, responding to each other's movements and creating a fluid and gooey dance.

#Contactimprovisation emerged as a response to the experimental and collaborative spirit of the post-modern dance era. It was founded by Steve Paxton, a dancer and choreographer, who was influenced by his experiences with martial arts, aikido, and the exploration of weight-sharing in dance. Paxton, along with other influential dancers, wanted to redefine the boundaries of traditional dance forms and foster a sense of improvisation, intuition, and deep connection within the dance community.

If you watch Contact Improvisation from the outside it will look like a bunch of sweaty people rubbing up on each other, and it might make you blush. However, there actually is technique involved in this beautiful art form. Here are a few of them:

1. Weight-Sharing- Participants share and redistribute their weight, allowing for the exploration of balance, support, and mutual trust. This involves leaning, counterbalancing, and partnering with another dancer.

2. Points of Contact- Dancers maintain physical points of contact with each other, such as hands, arms, back, or feet. These points serve as a foundation for communication and movement exchange.

3. Following and Leading- Dancers alternate between following and leading, allowing the movement to emerge organically. This dynamic interchange allows a sense of responsiveness, adaptability, and shared decision-making.

4. Rolling and Sliding- Participants engage in rolling movements on the floor, exploring fluid pathways and continuous motion. Sliding and gliding movements are also utilized to explore the possibilities of movement while maintaining contact with the ground.

5. Lifts and Flight- Contact improvisation incorporates lifts and moments of suspension, where dancers support and lift each other off the ground. This adds an element of dynamic elevation and exploration of weightlessness.

Although Contact Improvisation is about dancing with people, your first partner is the ground. Before you tune into the other dancers in the room, it’s important that you first tune into your own connection within yourself, and in relationship to the ground. By developing sensitivity to the support and resistance of the floor, dancers can discover new pathways, qualities, and dynamics in their movements. Morning Ritual

Now, let’s explore doing some solo contact improvisation as a regenerative #morningritual.

1. Easy stretching: Before getting into contact improvisation, take time to wake up your body through gentle and mindful stretching. Gradually ease into each movement, paying attention to your breath and allowing it to guide your body. With intention and presence, feel the energy flowing through your limbs, invigorating every cell within you.

2. The Still Dance: One of the most often overlooked steps in contact, but arguably the most important is tuning into the Still Dance. Take a moment to stand or sit comfortably, allowing your body to settle and your attention to shift inward. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and become aware of the contact between your feet and the ground. Feel the grounded support beneath you, the stability it offers. Allow your body to subtly sway, shift, or explore micro-movements, maintaining continuous contact with the ground. Notice the gentle oscillations and vibrations that arise within you as you respond to this connection. As you embrace the still dance, let go of the need for external movement and focus on the internal sensations and subtle shifts within your body. Feel the flow of energy, the subtle weight shifts, and the interplay between stability and release.

3. Love your body: In solo contact improvisation, you become both the dancer and the partner. Explore the dance between giving and receiving within yourself. Let your hands connect with different parts of your body, offering support and responding to your movements. Feel the gentle touch of self-love and compassion as you appreciate that beautiful body of yours.

4. Unleash Free-Form Exploration: Now is the moment to let go of expectations and surrender into your body’s impulses. Move your body freely and intuitively, following its lead. Trust your instincts and listen attentively to the whispers of your muscles. Dance, sway, roll, and flow with the rhythm of your breath, connecting with the surrounding space and relishing the freedom of unrestricted movement. Don’t be scared to go slow. Take time to really listen to what’s needed rather than moving in habitual ways or moving in ways that you think you are supposed to move in. Let the beautiful surprises of this dance have their way with you.

This is a beautiful #morningpractice as it aligns your #bodymindsoul in a nourishing and receptive exploration. If you ever watched children playing you will see them rolling around each other and all around the floor. It’s because it’s healthy, and natural, and feels so good. Our bodies want to release and relax. Isn’t that the best way to start the day? Give yourself this time and space to let go before you start shaping the rest of your day.

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