CI & Community? a Post-screening Discussion at Tempelhof Contact Festival with Johan & Alyssa 

Contact Improvisation and Community?  

“Wow this is a community and how can I be part of it? Do I want to be part of it or when am I part of it?  Who’s part of it ‘cause I felt when I watch it that I didn’t feel that I’m part of it and so I was wondering what would make me feel part of it and do I want to be part of it and how closed is it?  Who decides who’s part of it and all of these questions came up, (Nina Wehnert-Yoga Teacher at Tempelhof Contact Festival)

Comments from Alyssa:

I really enjoyed this discussion because we were able to pick a topic that came up in the film and discuss it from our different personal perspectives. Often I feel that the discussion after the film is rich with ideas and various topics. This means we don’t get to explore specific topics deeply due to time or the number of people present or the desire to talk about many topics instead of choosing one. I often am not around the community for very long after a film showing and so don’t get to experience first hand the small group conversations that hopefully are inspired to continue among the viewers.

.P1120509        P1120505                                     Photos: Dan Farberhoff @ Tempelhof Contact Festival 2015

Johan Nilsson and I showed the film to around 65 members of the festival and Tempelhof community on April 8, 2015 during the CI Festival. The festival organizers Ulli Witteman and Heike Pourian supported the film to be shown.


The following day a small discussion took place with 3 teachers of the festival: Johan Nilson, Alyssa Lynes, Nina Wehnert and two participants (I & B). The topic that arose was indeed present as we lived within the intentional community of Schloss Tempelhof for the week-long festival and topics of community were very present in different ways.


Alyssa: What kind of resonance did the film have in you and what topics would then be interesting for us to discuss? What moved you or what stuck with you?

I: I had this feeling of contact community. I didn’t have this before. I thought this was strong. I started wondering what that means and what’s special about it. I also liked this moment when she described the Latin American people being close together but …That was one question I took after the film. What is it for me, for others?

B: What impressed me the most was the amount of emotions shown in the movie. So dense emotions, so intense emotions and that is one main reason to dance is to get in contact with my emotions because in general the most time of my life I was shut off of my emotions and dancing is one way for me to reach that. That was also what connected me to the people in the movie, that they show how they reach their emotions. Like this one guy from France who was there for the first time. He was so touched by the room which was given to him to open his heart. That’s why for me it’s the main thing at the moment with contact. That would have been my question: How can I stay more in contact with myself?

Nina: I think what is still stuck to my mind or what I am still processing is that for me there are still many pictures of beautiful people moving really elegantly and amazing how I see them move and also very beautiful faces in how they are so open and look very joyful, happy, content. And then I hear Lior speaking about he’s on survival mode very often and then the moment when the Hawaiin woman says she was just crying and feeling lost and not being part of it. And also you (Johan) also have a moment. Wasn’t there also a moment when you had difficulties?

Johan: I was saying to Alyssa yesterday that my sharing is very practical. It’s not so emotional actually. I don’t know if there was ever really emotional.. It would be nice if you found some. (Laughter).

I: Maybe with your friend that had the experience of burying.

Nina: Well anyway, I’m just curious why, especially Lior. He’s quite strict and harsh in the way he puts it. How he doesn’t like to be on a festival and all this. Why are you there? What’s the pleasure. I see the pleasure but I don’t hear it. No one says it’s amazing and exciting to be here- that’s how I saw it. Maybe I’m wrong. I totally see it through my eyes, my lens. And also afterwards I thought wow this is a community and how can I be part of it? Do I want to be part of it or when am I part of it? Who’s part of it ‘cause I felt when I watch it that I didn’t feel that I’m part of it and so I was wondering what would make me feel part of it and do I want to be part of it and how closed is it? Who decides who’s part of it and all of these questions came up.

Johan: I realized that there was also two things and some are connected to what you shared also. The thing that touched me personally is my private life –that is three years ago. Seeing myself with Irene and knowing that we broke up and it’s Ok. That relationship is finished and at that time it was so alive. That touched me yesterday quite strongly.

And seeing where I am after three years and for me that’s kind of connected to the question of the film of sharing personal stories and I feel, seeing it again, that my personal stories are definitely going on. It brings me back to reflect on where I am now.

And then I had two things that I thought about yesterday and one was also somehow the joy seen on the dance floor. I felt that this came through to me; that there is a joy of exploring this form and dancing and it’s somehow presented in so different ways.   It doesn’t say you have to do it like this. It’s really like, I felt it open and curiousity and joy was there.   And then also I was reflecting on community and sensing that me seeing the movie again, I felt that this community is so open that there is no community in the sense that it’s closed but that it’s really like kind of an open community where people are invited, we travel to different festivals, there’s jam everywhere and it’s all we are exploring the same thing but in different ways which is somehow the base of the form –somehow a lot of different interests and I felt that one community I could see in the movie is the community of teachers who meet over and over again in festivals, either as teachers or as participants, but we cross each other in a different way than I meet others. Then I felt one community which would be at home; the community that hosts the jam where I live. That is somehow a different community and they have different reasons for jamming. And the picture would be that the festival is a community in itself; that people go to festivals. So this came up for me strongly yesterday and also after our talk today, Alyssa. I was reflecting about community. The idea that it’s actually so open and I like it. That we find a reason to meet and that’s contact impro. and the setting is just held in different places and times. It’s like me being here now, coming from Brussels, to meet a friend to dance for a few days, renting a studio to dance for three or four days. I mean totally we are meeting around this community but we did our setting and then coming here and having the festival and then next time and still feeling connected but not necessarily that me and you do the same thing at the same time but somehow having the same question mark. Why do I do this? and then the exclamation point that we all do it because it touches us somehow.

Alyssa: This is Raquel’s question: Where is it and what is? Something like that. It leads me to the question of when do I feel in, a part, included? When do I feel out? And I have this question in the beginning of a conversation, beginning of a dance, or of a group score, or when I enter a jam in a new country. Or If I’m hosting a jam: How do I support the feeling of inclusivity? I think actually the practice of the form is arriving in a feeling of being home and creating a feeling of being home with people who just arrived or people who are arriving over and over and over again.

Nina: I guess it’s a lot of what I personally make out of it. Like now for me at the moment my focus is not on Contact Improvisation but somewhere else but I guess if I were to shift my mind and focus more on Contact then I would feel more a part of it and I would get involved in more. I don’t do this at the moment. I’m wondering is it also dependant of what other people think or is it only my personal feeling.

Alyssa: I was just going to say. I perceive you as totally a part of it.   (laughter) Because now this is the second and soon to be third festival that I am teaching at that you’re teaching at. So from what I do at the same time and same place as you do makes me feel like you are a part of it.

Johan: I would say exactly the same. Like meeting you I wouldn’t think that you are not a part of it. Somehow it doesn’t matter what you do in between but that you are accepted to come here. I mean then we all have our personal struggles. For me it’s the same. I do a lot of things in between and that’s different contexts. But still supporting any project however it looks that deals with Contact, I somehow saying yeah-I like this thing somehow. That’s what I feel.

Alyssa: It feels appropriate that the theme that is discussed is community because that’s where we are. Do you live here?

I: No.

Alyssa: And you also not?

B: No.

Alyssa: So we are all not really not a part of it (Tempelhof community). We are apart of this week ‘it’. But then I don’t know if it’s helpful to think of size difference but I was thinking of circles inside of circles.

Nina: But now we are a community. Now I feel we are a part of this community more than the contact community. Funny, no? But I feel more involved here definitely.

Johan: That’s interesting. What touches me most being here is that it’s happening here at Tempelhof which is a community. For me it brings me to other communities where I live, like Auroville in India or where I’m based at home.   So I’m thinking much more of Tempelehof as a place than the festival.   The festival is happening and I’m dealing with it but I feel that my curiosity goes to the larger community.

Alyssa to Nina: Where you mentioning this circle (gesture to the 5 people at the table)?

Nina: Yeah. Short time community.

Alyssa: which includes a cat.

B: For me it’s different than for you. My focus on being here. This is my second festival total. My first was three months ago. So this whole Contact thing is completely new so there’s not much focus left outside for the community. But then I really look forward to tomorrow when there is an opportunity to work in the green house and to hear about the community because I am so interested in it but I realize there is not much capacity left. Being part of a community is somehow by taking part in the jam it’s like a possibility for everyone to get in contact with everyone. I guess that’s the main part for me to somehow feel connected. Because there everyone is on our side.

Alyssa: I feel like inside of a jam I can feel anything and that when a conversation only contains the idea of feeling connected in a jam I feel like it’s only part of the whole story. I think we can feel the most loneliness when we are part of a big group sometimes or we can feel anything in the range of emotions. And that while I also believe in community and believe in what I said earlier about the attempt toward inclusivity and feeling at home. Actually, when I’m actually at home is when my nastiest me comes out to my parents. I feel so safe that I can show my angry side. So I think there is a sense of possibility inside the jam when you feel at home or disconnected. I think there are so many possibilities on an emotional level, on a physical level, and a spiritual level possibly. And some people call it a playground and I actually I could maybe call it a playground because on a playground you also felt alone and you also wanted to fight someone sometimes, you know? Kids go through all the range of emotions when they have that freedom also. It’s not easy and fun all the time to be a kid, right?

all: No.

B: This picture of a playground you can also see it as a laboratory where you can mix different ingredients and look what’s coming out. Like what’s happening when I react to this person like that or what’s happening when I do this… so it’s also like a playground.

Nina: I would love to show it [the film] to people that don’t know what contact improvisation is that might not want to go to a class but want to know what I do and what I’m interested in.   I think it shows it in many ways. Also that it’s so difficult to learn and it looks so great when people do it smoothly and it’s fun and joy, all these parts.

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