Mirva, Bastien, Alyssa and 16 others’ discussion at Les 1001 et une Festival Contact Improvisation Grenoble July 2015
Setting the scene: Grenoble Festival, July 2015
Getting ready to watch ‘Five Ways In’ one evening in the middle of the festival:
Who was present at the feedback session:
Mirva Makkinen was one of the Contact Improvisation Intensive Teachers of the Grenoble Festival. She was also teaching an intensive during the film. She saw the film for the first time at this screening and gave feedback. Mirva MAKKINEN (FI) –Featured intensive teacher in the film (2012)
Photo from a Jam moment: Mirva (from Right to left) with Alyssa and Christina Klissiouni (other CI Intensive teacher of the festival).
Others listed as present:
Bastien Auber (FR) – One of the organizers and translators of the Festival Grenoble, a local CI teacher
Alyssa Lynes (US) – One of teachers at Grenoble Festival, Co-director of Film
THE SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION AFTERWARDS:
Mirva: …a point of view from the whole festival. Is suddenly because we are many we can share so many different aspects, we are sharing it [the festival] but it can be parallel. It depends what intensive you choose, who you dance with, who you happen to be with-it’s influencing so much your experience of the festival and the film was helping to understand. It was from five people but at the same time you see so many moments and persons having their journeys. It was touching me.
I was that year giving an intensive in Freiburg and so my role, my experience, was also from the dances that were moving. It is also kind of mixing because I’ve been many years to Freiburg so some of the dances I don’t remember, whether they were two years ago or five years ago. You get confused of the years but that specific year –it takes a lot of focus to hold an intensive. I say hold because it is many people in the same class. And then just seeing the different journeys was really touching. It was nice to feel and see.
It was my first time seeing the film. It was like realizing how we are sharing the space and sharing the dances but everything is so individual anyway. What kind of journey I have or you or you or you- are not the same or similar even (chuckles).
Alyssa (to everyone): You can share whatever you wish but I’d like to offer as a question for this discussion: If you were being filmed now in this festival: What is the key of what you are looking for or exploring here in this festival, your question or interest? And how is that intention going for you in this festival?
Bastien (Organizer of Grenoble Festival): It reminded me these things during this festival as an organizer and also this question came ‘what about me? What about time for myself?’ About this view of doing and this view in. So it’s important to deal with my dance, to survive in a way as Lior said. It’s good to come back to this question. How I can really enjoy who I am? Enjoy the festival to organize, to see everywhere that people are joyful, we would like that. So the question is- we organize a festival, but what is it in the end finally? And it reminds me of this aim for myself like oh wow, it’s important to connect with who I am. This question came to remind me.
Participant 1: Thank you for the movie. It touched me a lot. I saw the movie in Freiburg in 2013. The team of the movie encourages us to express how we feel about seeing this movie. I felt really touched by what I see but at the same time I was imbalanced because there was a few pieces of the movie that I was not feeling so comfortable with because I felt it was difficult to show this movie to my family or to my friends who are not in the Contact community- like the nudity, zen (7:42) and other parts of the movie when people are just playing like idiots because for me it was difficult to show to people who are not in the community because of the interpretation of the images around the dance. Now this movie is not like that. I really enjoyed it because I can show this movie so thank you very much.
And it touched me a lot because it reminds me really of Camille- I felt a lot of resonance with this man because it reminded me of when I was a beginner of all the questions how for a man to express/assume the sensitivity. How can I allow me to express it? How do I deal with my weight? And this question of self.
Finally you chose what is really important for me in Contact Improvisation- it’s not just about dancing. It’s really deeper than just that. The different ways- in a festival like Freiburg, like this one- we can learn a lot about who you are- like you said Bastien.
Participant 2: I really appreciate the empathy of each other, human warmth. It’s not just dance. It’s more than dance. We can see it further away. It’s very good for everybody to be in contact, to share some things, to believe too.
Participant 3: I would like very much to have the source because I thought I have to show this film to people, because indeed this practice is not so spread or known by people. I feel lots of joy practicing this and the woman she told about the therapy. Dance is always a pleasure, lots of kinds of dance. But this is more meeting people. To go deeper in the dance, deeper inside oneself and deeper to meet people in another way without I thought also this mix between men and woman there is no… it’s beautiful to see –all the culture—without, ambiguity, with the body. It’s quite rare to find that in dance, to go like that. That’s what I like and also the spiritual side, to connect more than with people, with the nature, with energy. I’d like to see it again and I want to share it. It would be great to have the French subtitles also to reach more people.
Alyssa: We would love someone to volunteer to translate the subtitles. We have someone translating it to Italian and to Romanian. It would be great. As many people who want to translate would be wonderful. *****
Participant 2: Dancing in nature on the lake and with the leaves- that made me very happy to see that you can dance everywhere. Before I did not think this. I thought it works just and now I have a strong (15:44)
Participant 4 (translated by Bastien) What he felt during the movie was an experience of a festival although he doesn’t know Freiburg Festival. He liked the atmosphere, the ambience. He shared many things with the people. He asks himself if this movie can be watched by everybody or only people who dance. This kind of experience, sensation, organization of festival… There are many people with a lot of passion and he asks if just these people can perceive that. He asks if what he feels of the movie can be felt by others who don’t practice Contact. (to Alyssa) In this version, is it more oriented for dancers or is it oriented for everybody and non-dancers?
Alyssa: I don’t know, is the real answer. We are all three contacters. Mike is an anthropologist and the goal is to make it as real and clear as possible and we’ve shown it in the process to non-dancers and dancers and received feedback from both. Our hope is that it can be shared with everyone who wants to see it. But my thought is that people see it from where they come from. And I also have this question that Lemmer said about ‘how much can be perceived from watching and then how much can be perceived from watching from a video? How we perceive comes from who we are and our experience with how we perceive.
So, I know that my family has seen it, many different people. Some that were very critical of Contact before and then accepted me more as a contact dancer after seeing it because they could relate to the person and they said ‘Oh, these are people experiencing people things and so I understand more why you do this.’ So for me it’s been special to share with non-dancers. They get something, maybe something different but they definitely perceive something.
Bastien: And I’m sure that people that are not dancers can be really touched by the movie, maybe more than dancers sometimes. There are no rules for emotional things.
Participant 5: That’s Contact Impro. I feel it teaches about something we are living in our society right now. I mean this kind of evolution of what we need to find solutions in our living. What I would like to know–is there anything like that before in any country or any time, similar like that happening before Steve Paxton? I feel that what we loose in the present with the new condition and the evolution that we are a kind of humanity and the needs we need to meet in that situation with the contact with the body and the emotion. It’s a big mix. It’s very a rich experience because when I am in contact anything can be. I’m thinking about when we dance-relationship, a very big meeting.
Participant 6: If I understand your question. (23:08) I can say that maybe, MAYBE, Contact Improvisation can be a Western form of traditional dance expression. In a way that dance since the beginning of human civilization has been expressing communication, communal sharing, there’s a lot of similarities like even touch and contact but not in this way that we are using now with our whole body to share contact. This is very unique. As far as I know. I can say that this is a form of dance that developed after the, let’s say, hippy movement in the Western world and it connects to a lot of ideologies. Ofcouse it has developed and a lot of things have changed in my opinion but I think it’s a lot like trying to connect to this communal spirit that the Western people have lost. You know, we live in a very narcissistic society where individualism comes really first. And this is a way to feel our individual being in relation to the communal and group feeling. I find this a unique proposition in the dance expression. I can say that in all traditional dances you find people looking for communication and that’s what it is about.
Participant 7: What about the traditional role of women and men?
Participant 6: Like African dances, as far as I know, there can men together and women together. We have in Greece, for instance, dances between women and dances between men. You know, it’s there, but this kind of neutrality that you can find in Contact it’s not so common in other traditional dances although I think, underneath the costumes and the rituals it’s really there also. I’m not an expert. I don’t know. But with the very little I have witnessed I can say that.
Alyssa: I do think that the context in the US at that time, it was progressive to dance two men and two women together in full body contact.
Participant 6: Definitely.
Alyssa: So, historically it was provocative and progressive.
Participant 6: and rebellious. It’s very provocative.
Participant 6: There’s something I’d like to say and I’m sorry if it is a critisicm because I really like the film and I’m touched by it. I had a problem with the music, the sound, most of the time. It felt very, may I use this word?, niave and somehow I don’t know how you chose music that was happening in the festival. Actually last year when I was in Freiburg festival teaching this intensive, the weakest point of the festival was the music and I see this in the film. Really. It’s amazing. Because somehow it weakens the atmosphere, you know, like when I look at images, also in nature, like really giving a sensation feeling, but the music, God, it lacks spirit. It lacks energy. For me this is a very weak point. I don’t know if you could do something about this but definitely the music for me is a problem there. Also in Freiburg Festival.
Alyssa: I appreciate the critical feedback because we want to have critical feedback. At this point it’s complete the way it is. We consciously chose music that only happened during the festival but we also made the choice to have music that happened outside with the musicians from Latin America playing overlapped a Jam later so it wasn’t the music or sound that was originally there. This was a choice mostly for non-dancer audience members because we felt like, if we do want to share the form with people that have no connection to Contact that having the music overlap is a way to keep the connection and keep the attention of non-dance viewers. But I appreciate your feedback.
Participant 6: Yeah, but it also gives a kind of character that is like a little bit like guitar glang, glang, glang . I’m sorry. I’m very sensitive to that. And then it’s like a person that is not connected so much to Contact, someone who’s not really in the form, can think of ‘why is this music related somehow?’ It’s just thinking.
Alyssa: I had a conversation with the co-directors and we actually want those people who are really critical of the film to show the film and use it as a beginning point to question music and Contact in film or whatever the question is. So if there is something like ‘errr’, like you really dislike it, it’s also a way to start a conversation. So maybe it could support a discussion on music and jamming because it’s not what you prefer.
Participant 6: Definitely. I mean, I like silence but when I choose music I need to have some kind of understanding why I choose the music I am using. That’s very important, also when I teach in my classes. Or if I see a performance of Contact. Thank you very much.
Participant 8: I was touched by different things that were said by different people. The man who speak about his sensitivity and how he can deal with it in the dance. The question he ask about it. In fact, I think I had no question arriving here because I felt I was sure I could express myself. I didn’t know anything about Contact Improvisation and dance Contact but I was sure I was at the right place to express myself by my body. The question is: I am contacting really my sensitivity during the week, during the festival and now how can I deal with it in my life? It’s one of my problems and here it is good because I can express. I can do what I want. How to survive? How to express myself? Is a very big question but not in dance but in life outside the dance even if everything in life can be dance. It’s not easy to share it with everybody. It’s easy for me to see dance when I’m in a city I can see people walking and it’s under control. I see people walking and people going there, there, there and it’s a big stage. It’s like a show. People are amazing! I decide to see that. How can I dance in this life and now only in the festival? In daily life I cannot come with everybody and say’ OK this is your shoulder, great!’ and I do that. I cannot do that. This is my big question today and with the film.
Participant 9: I’m surprised that you (Alyssa) made this movie. It doesn’t seem like I feel you. And also it’s not the world I know of Contact Improvisation. It’s nothing to see this. It’s spectacle and publicity. It’s nothing to see, what we feel when you teach (Christina). ***
Alyssa: Thank you for sharing. Thank you everyone.
*****The day after this group conversation Participant 1 offered to translate the subtitles into French. 🙂
*** This participant 9 had attended Alyssa CI class and appreciated it a lot. She was also in Christina’s intensive. She joined the discussion at the end to add her opinion but had not heard the earlier comments. She spoke with lots of emotion. Later she spoke in French (her first language) to another participant who told Alyssa about it later. She has been actively involved in community living for many years and has a strong desire to connect with people as a community within a festival context. She seemed to be finding this collective sense at the Grenoble Festival but did not feel this shown in the film. She felt strongly that the film misrepresented what CI is for her.
Thank you to the organizers for supporting this showing to happen.