During an International Viewing and Discussion Session at Earthdance on January 8th, 2015 a group of around 30 people gathered to watch ‘Five Ways In’. This group contained staff from Earthdance and participants of Nancy Stark Smith’s 3-week Intensive, along with Alyssa Lynes (a co-director). Most people present were therefore intermediate—advanced and/or teaching CI practitioners. Many are familiar with festivals and various international CI communities. We represented the following nationalities and home countries: Russia, Germany, France, Mexico, Canada, Morocco, the US, Italy, England, Ireland, Switzerland, & Brazil.
Alyssa: What were you left with, images, thoughts, questions…?
A: Sometimes I feel a bit lost of why I do Contact Improvisation and each time that I see something that really makes me.. it makes me not doubt why I do it and how profound and meaningful and it’s a lot more than dancing. It’s really powerful practice that we have chosen so thank you for sharing it.
B: I really appreciated hearing someone talk about that self doubt aspect. like thinking you’re not a good dancer or you are comparing yourself unfavorably to someone else and I think that that is a such a common thing that each person feels that it is only them that is feeling it.
C: I love that it covered not just Contact Improvisation but that also the cultural thing; everything from the consumerism to heteronormativity. It was nice seeing you guys dip into that different aspects of the festival and the ups and downs and end up somewhere else.
D: It moved me a lot to see so many known people and that’s wonderful. People from all over the world. People I’ve heard about but I’ve never met. Friends of friends. Huge network of relations and family.
E: I like the way they were talking about how it wasn’t just as a dance form but as a kind of way of living. That is really interesting. How you live your life with similar principles that we go into a Contact Jam with an open heart and what is it to make choices in the jam and how Contact can change your value systems or your perspective on human sensitivity. I enjoy that question.
F: A lot of people who are practicing Contact regularly, teaching and traveling are asking the same questions and are discovering -what is it about Contact Improvisation that is changing my everyday life; when I go to the supermarket, who I stand next to, who do I choose to be around, how I cut vegetables, how I cook dinner, how I am outside of the jam. I love seeing, hearing it from other people because that seed to me is quite relevant to me too and probably for a lot of people here. What Contact does to you that makes you change because you have the physical experience of being fully on top of someone’s torso… How does that make you stand in the cue at the bank, the post office differently. And shift your weight from one foot to another how you know I don’t want to stand next to him. You know, these things that overlap in your life and aren’t just in a jam.
Alyssa: Today I felt really happy that you came in when you did [Brazilian person] and it reminded me of the joy I take in sharing this film with different people all over the place. I was so happy you came in right when we were going to get to the Latin American Culture section with Raquel talking about Brazil and then the singing and how you sang here. I remembered when in England, a man who is married to a Brazilian woman sang also at that moment. So I have these connections like you practiced the Underscore today. The connection in time and place and culture. It was so special for me. This moment and how we share how we are.
G: It made me think about how many people I recognize from all over the world and people that have been to Brazil. So there’s the exchange in culture. Something I always think is “what is the common denominator that we are creating because we are relating directly with movement and there’s something that goes deep down to the core and all the cultural differences kind of stays aside –accept they don’t.
H: When we put ourselves in there not out there but in there, and we relate beyond the cultural differences and then we relate with the cultural difference we learn from one culture and another creating this truly universal culture. In a sense we are creating a culture that often relates to cultures. That internationality and the fact that we all relate so openly to each other goes with and beyond those differences.
Alyssa: WHO DID YOU MOST CONNECT WITH OF THE FIVE PROTAGONISTS? What was it about her/him that you connected to?
I: Raquel. You could really see she went through something and I think her interview when she is reviewing her wishes and her goals. I think it’s that connection. It’s not just her crying, is about her making that connection verbally on camera. That it’s the threwline in a film for us to be able to make that connection with her. It has a seed of itself. It has ground to stand on more.
Alyssa: WHAT WAS SHOWN IN THE FILM THAT REPRESENTS SOMETHING THAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO YOU ABOUT CONTACT IMPROVISATION?
J: Jess Curtis and his teaching. (and I relate a lot to teaching.) He teaches about being human and not about technique and form and aesthetic. And seeing this again where he teaches about how to move with generosity as the value that you’re deciphering. I think like when you were talking about standing in cue, outside like when you are not on camera, not on the dance floor and you are trying to present the best version of yourself but how do these principals apply in relationship and that he’s using this form to teach that as opposed to teaching how to spin or look a certain way when you fall which has never been the part of the form that I resonate with. Again using the form to teach these very very human shared experiences.
Alyssa: IF YOU WERE TO BRING THIS FILM TO YOUR COMMUNITIES AND SHARE IT.. What question would you ask in my role to continue the discussion.? What conversations would you want to lead?
To people who are already interested in Contact Improvisation or to other people?
[To people who have never seen it before:] Are you more or less weirded out about Contact?
K: This is really for those people who don’t understand what Contact is. All of them, the participants, although they have different level, years of practice of contact, they have the same need of acceptance more or less and they somehow talk about it. And each in a different way. Someone says about death, family issues, someone says about being old, interest in acrobatics, big weight or whatever and all these differences and they all are very from the heart, really truly. This what makes it very nice also a film for those who argue Contact as a form, not understanding what do we have there.
L: I would want to ask contacters and non-contacters. What did you not see in the film that you wanted to see?
M: It was full-bodied. I was satisfied. I’ll think over it.
(Written and compiled by Alyssa Lynes. Photo: Alyssa Lynes)