Researching Contact Improvisation

Johan’s screening in Helsinki, March 2015

Alyssa: (To Johan) You had a screening recently in Sweden, what was your discussion question or focus? How did your conversation go?

Johan: I was going to say I don’t think we had a specific discussion question but at the same time Mike sent me some questions before that you wrote and I didn’t bring them. I gave a presentation of the film on the background of the film on why you choose to do it and how it’s questioning and looking at community. Somehow since I live in an area where there are many different small communities and people belong to different groups or describe themselves as belonging to different groups. We partly discussed based on the personal stories in the film how you can be a part of a community but having so different entrances.   That was one thing we discussed: How can a practice host so many different approaches. That it’s actually not depending on you –you don’t belong with nylon clothes or political ideas or looks or… that anyone actually comes and shares something. We discussed that. And then we also discussed: the people that watched were non-CI dancers… They actually got inspired to try. And we didn’t have any movement session connected to it but that they felt like wow, this is something interesting like probably from the mindset of these 5 characters and what they talked about and then seeing images. They had a response in them like ‘I want to try it’.   So they shared quite personally the one over there. We were 10 people and what made them curious about and it was totally different things which I don’t remember now and I didn’t record it. I’m sorry Alyssa (says loudly into the recorder recording this session). (laughter)

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.

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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.

CONTACT IMPROVISATION AND COMMUNITY DISCUSSION:

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.

Social Anthropology Conference Screening & Feedback

Five Ways In was screened in the Film, audio and multimedia programme as part of the annual anthropology conference of the ASA (the Association of Social Anthropologist of the UK and Commonwealth).  ASA15 Symbiotic Anthropologies: Theoretical Commensalities and Methodological Mutualisms was held at the University of Exeter in April 2015. Our film was shown last from a number of multi-media presentations.

ASA Panel

I was not able to attend in person but joined on skype to hear some feedback and receive questions about the film. I was particularly interested what questions social anthropologists would have of the film.

Here is a transcript of the questions and my responses:

 

(Q1) We are wondering about the community? Do they continue in touch after the festival? Do they know what happens to each other after they have had this amazing experience?

A good question. One thing that the contact community use very efficiently is facebook. So certainly through facebook people keep in touch. Another way, local CI communities. Once or twice a week people meet and dance together. There are also smaller festival and events. CI community is quite mobile. Does it constitute a community in the traditional sense? Probably not, because, they are not living together, although there are some experiments in Argentina where dancers are living together. Yes, I feel people are very connected outside the festival context?

 

(Q2) I was very curious about gender, in the film and in contact improvisation and in the community. There were a lot of old men and young women. Is that representative of the contact improvisation community as a whole? Is that just happening in your film, in that particular festival?

Your question is about particular gender stereotypes (old men, young women). It’s a good question, because it’s difficult to hide particular gender implications on screen but I don’t think those are particularly representative of the contact community at large. But that’s not to say that the same kind of gender relationships that play out in everyday society also play out in the contact community. But I would probably compare it with other dance forms or community based practices where the strong gender distinction, in the dance scene like salsa or perhaps in Tango, were that would be much stronger. In general the philosophy of the form to be polygendered and as Jess Curtis was arguing, to connect across ages, within sexes, across age barriers etc And as he said, there is a kind of ebb and flow, sometimes it becomes a bit more parallel to mainstream society and other times it doesn’t. But if you noticed that in the film I would need to address in my writing because that is not something I would say captures the community.

(Q2b) It reminds me a little of Five Rhythms dance, similar ideas of practice, the body and things but also quite obviously attractive for older men for young women?

Yeah, there might also be older men dancing with younger women but what is going on in their heads might be very different to what happens in Five Rhythms, I would suspect given the philosophy of the practice.

 

(Q3) I was wondering how you got engaged with this topic and if you are planning to continue your research and if you are still working with this.

 

The question of how I got engaged with it I thought about before the skype and I wrote a list of 15 points, I thought it would be important not to miss a single one. It is a combination of quite personal interest that evolved out of a desire that I had to find a particular scene outside of academia that satisfied my interest for a combination of embodiment and philosophy and community. Another was having taught visual anthropology for four years I felt there were holes in the visual anthropological output that related to multisensory anthropology, an attention to process, cinematography, working with a group, doing it collaboratively, participatively that I wanted to develop. I’m also a medical anthropologist so I was very interested in the transformative quality of festivals in taking people from one state of being to another, and I had written an article on efficacy, that also plays out in the film. The constitution of self with others in movement and what it leaves people with at the end of a festival. So that was another interest, perhaps slightly more intellectual one. Another is that I’m interested in it as a practice for building community and I have been working with a couple of intentional communities, one in Sweden and so I’ve working with introducing CI as a practice for learning about people’s interests in living in community, previous experience and how to learn about being in community. So I was interested in it as a praxis of community, but also I had been using it in my own teaching filmmaking. So I wanted to also make a film about what the students would be experiencing through my filmmaking courses.

I’ll stop there. In terms of taking it forward, in a sense it has just started because the film is the start of the research process now through the process of showing it taking it back to communities I’m now framing my more textual writing about it based on its reception within public audiences and academic audiences. For me, the film as research has started and now the more framing of it for an anthropological audience starts.

 

(Q4) Tom Rice- I wondered whether, Jashana, who was charged with finding the political implications of CI. Did she underplay the political. It seemed that it has a lot of political implications that she had not covered?

Definitely, and I think she was doing that as a result of the kinds of conversations she had in that particular festival in that year. By coincidence, if she had come the following year she would have left with a very different impression. The following year there were three intensive teachers who were very interested in the political implications of CI, much more so perhaps than Jess Curtis was. They were leading many discussions on CI as politics and exploring the implications of touch within European society. And Jashana has gone on to be even more of an activist that she had been before, based in Hawaii, had been campaigning against Monsanto and many other issues. So yes, she does underplay it and what we need to do is to create a visual or textual response with her involved to underlie how political CI can be both in the festival context and wider.

(Q5) I wonder if there are some experiences of the community with not necessarily white Europeans, the comment that was in your film, the criticism that the community has. So I wonder if by now if there are experiences with other communities and actually not same only about race and class but about bodies, who are not dance or people who are fat and like other practice I have been involved in like Aikido, chi kung, that are inclusive, so I wonder about this inclusivity of having a body and movement also.

(MP) That’s a really good question. It’s a question that the contact community is often asking itself and CI dancers who are politically oriented and move towards inclusivity particularly in the states often say, hey this film doesn’t represent. It’s a very good point. There are two responses, one which is a knee jerk response, which is they are pretty inclusive already in terms of the diverse personalities, personal histories, class backgrounds of people who enter into CI. One response I make is to celebrate the ability of the community as they managed to achieve in the last thirty years rather than critiquing if for not doing something and not help do because people who are ‘hugely’ fat haven’t approached the community. But then having said that there is also a more nuanced response which is ethnographic which is actually within many CI communities even within the festival of Freiburg, there are many spaces for people who are not conventionally bodied to come and participate. So for example, at Freiburg there was a lady with cerebral palsy who was very active. There are others in communities who are deaf and blind who also participate. Within the US certainly the community is very aware or race issues and inclusivity issues and have their own dedicated inclusivity officer. I think the community is profoundly concerned with about these issues and outside of perhaps the most famous and global festivals there are many initiatives and many inclusive practices that include a much wider spectrum of bodied people than you saw on screen.

(Q6) Another question about audience. We saw if from the point of view of the practitioner, right. Is there an audience of dancing and watching? If this distinction of practitioner and audience arises in this form of dance?

(MP) So is observing with the festival and wider practice something that is widely practiced?

(Q6b) What I meant is there ever an audience for this dance or is it exclusively an audience for practitioners? In other contexts, does the question of audience arise? And if there isn’t an audience how do you deal with this difference of watching and doing?

 

CI as a teaching practice is used in most dance schools in Europe. Whereas CI in it’s most pure form probably is not performed infront of dance interested audiences very frequented, although it does occasionally it is integrated into many dance performances where the form is used to sensitise dancers to each other and performance where bodies come into contact with each other. And dance practitioners would always be able to see that there was CI influence within those performances. So yes, it comes into a lot of dance performances. Within festivals there and teachers conference there are always spaces for performance evenings which sit in an ambiguous position because the form is not necessarily meant to be performed because it is about interior states but at the same time a lot of people recognise to transmit the form and to gain wider interest in it that it has to be performed. So it would be a rare festival where there wouldn’t be some kind of improvised performance as you saw in the film in the scenes where Jess was dancing with a young lady [look back to previous questioner], where there would be a selection of people trying to communicate some aspect of CI.

 

(Q7) I was curious about how five people were chosen, and if you started off with five people, or narrowed it down at the end? And how you selected them methodologically?

 

I was slightly inspired by a film I had seen on a sharing group in an intentional community in Sweden called “Three Miles North of Molkom’ where they had 6 people in a sharing group through a two week festival. I was concerned because of the nature of a CI festival and the lack of being able to be there a week beforehand that we wouldn’t find five people, two of the people (Johan and Lior) I had actually consulted with before and invited them to become two fo the five, partly because of their qualities partly because I was confident that they would be able to speak honestly and to camera over the five days of the festival. And Johan I had made a few films before, so we had a bit of a filmic history. A bit like Jean Rouch. Johan was actually a very good friend as Lior also became. The three other individuals, Jashana I had met in a professional CI teachers meeting and I thought her perspective, her age, her engagement was really interesting, so we invited her when we realised she was at the festival. Raquel was a friend of a friend who represented the volunteer experience and also the Latin American growth of CI. And Camille was also recommended to us by a friend because we felt we needed someone who was a bit of a beginner. And in that process we came across many other individuals I would say another five who we met in the day before and the day the festival started who we interviewed and talked to who we then felt either they were attracted because they wanted to promote themselves or there was a slightly uncomfortable dynamic with one of my co-directors. The decisions were made in collaboration between myself and my two co-directors, Alyssa Lynes and Sonja Bruhlmann.

 

(Q8) Tom Rice: So I went through a phase where I was really interested in surfing and I used to go every weekend for about four years and I was really struck gradually by the clash of ethoses between the best surfer is the one having the most fun and the absolutely extraordinary levels of hierarchy within the surfing community and the deference that had to be paid to people who were only slightly better in surfing to you. And I think that is present here, isn’t it? I got that feeling from Jashana, the idea that she might be a bad dancer even though technically, there is no such thing, ideologically. But then there is the hierarchy of the teachers and the pupils. I just wondered how hierarchy played out here.

It is definitely there, and it is something that people who have watched the film have said, mike you haven’t dealt with it adequately enough. And it’ sa realy interesting question because it touches, at the heart, as you implied, of the ideology and to what degree the ideology is played out in practice.One thing before the festival there is a dedicated teacher’s meeting to prepare people and the volunteers to hold the space and in that meeting they have many discussions about how to make sure that teachers and people of a high level will dance with beginners or people who have just come to the festival for the first time. There are many initiatives, they make agreements like ‘ I will dance with ten beginners at a Jam’ and some of the teachers hold to that or others get carried away with dancing with all their friends and people who they love dancing with. There is a concerted festival structural element to encourage more fraternisation between …Then it also depends on the indivisual personalities of people, the degree to which they project judgement of their own ability into people who are dancing at a level that implies they have been dancing for a long time. Some people project more that judgement and therefore feel inhibited. Others come in and because of their own personal experience and fresh with a feeling there is no hierarchy jump into dancing with teachers and teachers readily reciprocate. The hierarchy is there in the structure, there are teachers and participants but it plays out in very particular and interesting ways in dynamics of individuals with other individuals. So perhaps again, perhaps comparing to other dance scenes I would say that the hierarchy is much less defined as say the salsa scene or a Tango scene where someone who is very good would just not on principle dance with a beginner.

 

Tom Rice: I think we might wrap her there. Thanks very much. We enjoyed the film. I’m glad the skype link worked so well.

 

(MP) I really appreciate you setting up the skype link and all your questions. I have recorded all of them and they’ll be going into my publications as anthropological responses to the film.

(Tom Rice) Thanks a lot Mike

——————–

I look forward to expanding on my answers above and giving more examples and expansive explanations in the future.

 

 

 

 

‘Explore Contact Improvisation’ in Cambridge, Mass.

‘There was so much in there to take in. It is almost overwhelming to  absorb their honesty- their physical honesty and their emotional honesty’. (Feedback from screening).

 

I am really grateful to Marcus Schulkind for supporting this event and thrilled to have collaborated with another dance mentor to host this evening- Neige Christenson. Neige teaches Contact Improvisation in the area and is a supporter of the film. I am a  Boston raised dancer but have been living in Europe for the last four years dancing and teaching Contact Improvisation, Modern Dance, and English. I was really excited to bring “Five Ways In” to my home communities and create a mixed event of contemporary dancers, contact improvisers and people who might identify as mover or non-dancers or contact curious. I feel very much at home with both dance communities when I visit from Germany. For me the evening was a great success. Fifty five people saw the film, thirty five attended  the class (including some who were giving it a try for the first time) and there were eighteen of us left at the end to clean up. Below, I report some of the feedback and thoughts from the evening.

 

EVENT PROGRAM:

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5:30pm–7:00pm Introduction and film showing “Five Ways In” (2014 -76 mins)

7:00-7:30pm Discussion with Alyssa Lynes

7:30–8:45 pm Contact Improvisation Class with Alyssa Lynes & Neige Christenson

8:45–10:00pm Open Movement JAM -Contact Improvisation and Improvisation welcome

 

 

DISCUSSION AFTER FILM:

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We had a moment of silence to consider the following question:

What resonates with you or what image, thought, question, quotation is with you now?

 

Then we discussed our answers briefly in small groups of 2-3. I suggested we group with someone we know less. Then we gathered in a big circle all together and shared. I posed the question: What was meaningful to you in the film?

 

A: I was very moved by the opening scene, the rolling across the floor, because it resonated with an experience I had at a workshop in Southend a few years ago. And I think I said I’m 60 years old and I´m rolling across the floor and I felt like the luckiest person in the world and to me that speaks to what Contact has given me- just to be able to go back to something so childlike and so basic and I feel like it´s such a crime that we are separated from the earth and that kind of activity and there´s no need to be.

 

B: I was really impressed with how able people were to handle their own emotions as they came out through physical touch and through the movement and how much the teachers were pushing people to be able to express their limit setting. I wonder how the community is thinking about ethics for people who may not be able to do that and sort of who is responsible, if, you know trauma is held in our bodies, if things come out and they don´t know how to do that and it´s not a safe space. Particularly with how open it seems that all the living is. I mean I´ve never been, but it seems that everyone is living communally and how you guys are thinking about safe space.

 

C: I appreciated that the lack of diversity was mentioned. This is something that I feel is a lack, as a person of color, I see that a lot. I actually really appreciated that it was brought up and talked about clearly and posed as a legitimate question.

 

D: Following up on that, I liked that there was a little bit of talking about ageism and how it feels to get older in the community as a mover. And all kinds of diversity. I think it was really important that it was acknowledged in a few places. Her reaction to getting older and what that feels like and I really feel that in my brief experience that these things are discussed and faced in a real way in Contact and I like that it was included in the film.

 

E: Contact Improv. may be kind of a skinny-persons form. I was struck by the kind of homogeneity of the bodies and I think that was probably what was at the event. The other thing was that I was honored by these people from all over the world expressing themselves in English.

 

F: There was so much in there to take in. It´s almost overwhelming to sort of absorb their honesty. Their physical honesty and their emotional honesty. But what really struck me was the person who said he realized it was about support and it goes so far. The wonderful image of going through the hands and its´support when you are on somebody´s body supporting the other and yourself and it´s also either emotional support that is being given, the helpfulness of the teachers, the helpers, the whole general support. It was amazing and wonderful.

 INTRODUCTORY CONTACT IMPROVISATION CLASS

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AFTER THE INTRODUCTORY CLASS:

Final Circle Sharing

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G: Something I was thinking about from the movie and that is the duality between creating an aesthetically satisfying dance and having an emotionally satisfying dance. Ideally you have both.

 

H: So, sort of like the shape versus the internal sensation of it or experience, outer, inner?

 

G: How creatively you interacting with your partner versus how affectionately you´re interacting with your partner.

 

H: What is aesthetic? One criticism I’ve heard for years of Contact performances.: “Oh that looks more fun to do than to watch and if that is going through someone, then how ungenerous an audience is that, you know oh you´re having more fun than me outside so I don´t want to watch it..“ And the woman from Hawaii, I was feeling blue and lonely and then I saw people enjoying themselves and dancing and I felt better. That’s an audience I want to be around.

 

GetInline-4I: For me in the dancing this evening, what was really juicy was having other people with really different dance backgrounds coming in to the space. It brought me in to positions and phrases that I wouldn´t otherwise speak with in my body. It´s also really nice to have movement with people that I haven´t moved with before. I know a lot of people and I know how to move with them and we can get into these little wrote characters that we have and to get outside that is awesome.

 

J: I’ve said this so many times in circle but I think what amazes me again and again about Contact Improv. is just the signature that everyone has such depth and diversity and that it keeps fascinating me. I don’t get bored and even with the same person over time. It’s amazing.

 

K: Yeah, I think that’s really interesting in improvisation in general but definitely in Contact, you bump up against what you want pretty quickly. I feel like it’s such a practice of letting go. -0f what is supposed to be happening of whether its’ “oh this is the lift thing” or “Oh this is the person I danced with yesterday”. “This is the way we dance.” “This is the way I dance in this room.” “This i how I feel about trios”. “This is how I show I feel about duets.” “This person’s too heavy.” All this stuff is like just an amazing practice and not jumping to conclusions. I’m surprised all the time.

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L: Sometimes it’s challenging to stay patient with what you really need to do for yourself. For me there is this part of me that wants to move really slow and waiting for someone to be there at a distance or with you I find it hard to find that. So I get caught up in a lot of dances that I probably don’t want to do on one level. There’s parts of the dances that I do enjoy though. Just being patient to wait for what you’re at to sink up with the room or it could not happen and being ok with that not happening.

 

Alyssa: I see something different every time. Today what struck me was during the one on one the teacher, Julia said to Camille “How many years have you been a beginner?” Just that question. Not the answer necessarily. This year I’ve been enjoying this question of ‘what is a beginner’ and how do we stay in beginner mindset?” and with that I’m fascinated by the range of intentions, just to think ‘what were our intentions for coming here today, or for dancing in that moment? “ Just that. To imagine that I don’t know what is going on in each of your universes. I love that, that questioning.

 

M: I like how much you can learn about a person by touching their hands. I feel that no matter who you contact with you end up touching their hand at one point and I throughout the class and this experience I partnered with people who were older, who were younger, who were women, who were men, who were sized differently than me, who were pretty much the same size as me and that didn’t impact how we moved so much as I could read more about them from the way they would touch my hand than anything else.

 

N: So I’m relatively new to contact and every single time I’m at a jam whether I’m dancing with somebody or witnessing I’m just in this awe of the everythingness that happens in the dance: there’s awkwardness, there’s patience, there’s joy, there’s fear. It feels like a deep conversation that everybody is engaged in in every role. It just feels like really true expressions of people and of myself and it’s beautiful to see everyone has one point when they are awkward and one point when they are beautiful. And it’s just like we all have it all. I love it and I love this community and I’m so happy to be a part of it now.

 

O: And we want all of you!

 

GetInline-1P: I think that’s something that I appreciate about contact,  that everyone is honest. Cause they know that this is their space to be honest with themselves and everyone else.   I haven’t been to a jam in a long time so coming back and so this is was like I had to take layers off, it was like a realization of how much I had built things up and then undoing it and getting back to like this is.. I just need to be honest. This is why I came ‘cause I know I can do that and not realizing that and then using my contact improv and muscles again was really informative. It’s a good lesson for me to understand that.

 

Q: For me the things that were said that really ties into the film so much in terms of people dealing with their emotions and the complexity of that and the articulation of all of it. So it really brings another level of awareness to the practice and to the room and specially with the teaching.   And actually I want to thank the two of you for how you put this thing together and for putting out so many emails.

 

Neige: It was super fun! It really worked to get a cross-pollination of the contact improv. world and the more contemporary dance and the people we are calling the contact curious and family members. My brother stumbled in and I was right at the door and like “Take your shoes off!” and then I said- “oh hi Dave” … (laughter) like man with shoes on… And your sister came, right?

 

Alyssa: Yeah my sister, my mom, my dad…

 

R: One of the things that is so mysterious to me… is how isolated Contact Improv Seems from the rest of the dance. There’s like “serious and rigorous dancing” and then there is Contact Improv.. It’s totally an illusion that it doesn’t take rigor and focus, deep training and listening to do this work on a lot of levels.   I hope that we can continue to share because everyone who is involved with their body has information to give to other people who are involved with their body and nobody has the right real estate. So I hope that keeps happening. This is a really solid approach. Bring them in with a movie! {laughter}

OPEN MOVEMENT JAM

 

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GetInline

 

(Photos by: Nelson Tetreault)

(Compiled and written by: Alyssa Lynes)

Being Generous

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)

Return to Earthdance

During the hustle bustle party preparing evening of December 31st, 2014, at Earthdance (Plainfield, Massachussetts) some people were dressing up in crazy attire, preparing chocolate covered pineapple and other yummy midnight delicacies, or creating a ritual to release the old and create space for new. Around fifteen Contact Improvisation dancers sat in Studio 3 to focus on “Five Ways In”. We were almost all from the US and Canada.  

Here are a few comments that stood out from our feedback session afterwards.   (Alyssa Lynes)

 

Political Activist & CI dancer: [It is] “exhausting to activate and search for and integrate and promote social action and I am relieved that I haven’t had that thought with contact. [improvisation]. Both appreciating it and also feeling like I just want to dance. “

CI Dancer A: I think my beliefs and values are very much in line with this community and dance form. What Jashana said about the form completely opened my heart. How do you negotiate that idealism? I do think that this is the way I envision people interacting beyond this community and yet there is the reality. My question is how do I reconcile this Utopia with the outside world?

CI Dancer B: Yeah, who was the bad guy in that movie. I missed that. (laughter).

CI Dancer C: I appreciate how raw the conversations were. They let us in to what they were really feeling. We could really get inside their heads. We have so much in common with each other. Witnessing that. I saw a lot of insecurities in them that I feel in myself. It really helps.

CI Dancer D: Jess’s critique when upper middle class white pretty euro-north American.   I am glad that it’s in there. It is a privileged group of people. I don’t know if it necessarily needs to be. But I wonder what the boundaries are.. I wonder if it’s having had an easier time of things.. It’s not a homogenous community in terms of experiences we’ve had.. maybe there is something to it, that means we are more open to go out on a limb. What are the boundaries to being not so exclusive, as homogenous as it is?

CI Dancer E: Vocalizing something I don’t want in a dance. I thought that was really interesting. The things that resonated with me the most —

New CI Dancer: Being someone who is new to contact it’s hard to get from watching people jam. There is an accessibility by having a lesson in the film.   The interacting with the natural environment and the playfulness.

CI Dancer F: …When she [Manuela Blanchard Russi] was dancing with a rock as she would with a rock. So much of CI is in communication and connection and the rock is immobile. It was interesting because there is something missing.

Activist & CI dancer: I was interested in the fact that Jashana was looking for a place to be alone and really crying really hard. Something about the political seems to be about equality and belonging. It’s so interesting that her question was about that. And then with the lack of connection her wanting to be alone that connected to a past trauma of being alienating and disconnected.

 

Alyssa Lynes

Feedback from Prof. Michael Jackson

‘ It lifts my spirits, knowing that anthropology is moving in such novel and thrilling directions, transgressing or dismissing old borderlines, trying out new forms of direct experience, and looking for new ways of reporting on those experiences.’ (Michael Jackson. 2014)

It was really special to get such positive feedback from Professor Michael Jackson. I have found his many books hugely inspiring over the years. His preamble in Minima Ethnographica on intersubjectivity is, for me, one of the most powerful justifications for putting relationship  at the heart of  research. I also think the concept is incredibly useful to understanding the social impacts and challenges of contact improvisation. I had the opportunity to meet him for the first time after a keynote he gave in Basel, Switzerland on the 31st October, 2014 at the SEG-SSE Annual Conference entitled  Social Anthropology and Global Transformations where he gave a powerful presentation with vivid stories from his fieldwork. A month later I felt a strong urge to communicate that with him by email. I was very touched that he watched ‘Five Ways In’ the very next day and shared his feedback (see below). He drew some connections with my research in Tonga, which has opened some very interesting areas of future exploration.
I would like to share our email conversation:

From: Mike Poltorak
Date: Monday, December 15, 2014
To: “Jackson, Michael D.
Subject: Keynote in Basel-Thank You…
Dear Michael,
I wanted to thank you again for an inspiring Keynote in Basel and for the opportunity to chat and learn more about your work.  I have found your writing incredibly inspiring over the years. It heavily informed my doctoral research in Tonga more than 15 years ago, though I was not able to deliver on the initial phenomenological promise because of the nature of language use in Tonga.
I use your preamble in Minima Ethnografica as the key text in teaching visual anthropology and have also explored the resonances between your framing of different kinds of inter-subjectivity in my research and involvement in the movement/dance form of Contact Improvisation, which I feel gives unique experiential insights of your framing and which I am currently exploring. I think there are wonderful ways in which visual anthropology can deliver, if carried out with collaboration and co-creation, some of the experiential insights and framings you argue for.I can imagine how busy you are but I thought you might be interested in my recent project for that reason. My work has resonances with what the Sensory Ethnography Lab in your institution is doing, but I push my work more into spaces of collaboration and co-creation and the use of feedback. I feel, and will be arguing  that the dance form of CI give unique opportunities to explore intersubjectivity experientially.Here is the research website and a link to the film: https://researchingcontactimprovisation.com/
This is a small token of gratitude for all the inspiration you have given my students and I over the years.
Kind regards,
Mike

From: Jackson, Michael D.
Sent: 16 December 2014 17:46

Dear Mike,
I’ve spent a good part of this morning watching the contact improv film and reading your account of efficacious healing in Tonga.  Time very well spent!  I’ve some personal experience of contact improv, which came out of my training in Iyengar yoga and Tai Kwan Do, and felt very much at home in the Freiburg setting (incidentally, I was in Freiburg last month interviewing a German graphic artist as part of my new book on art and religion).  As for the Tonga piece, it’s impressive how well you bring together theoretical literature of models of healing and the ethnographic case you focus on, developing an edifying dialogue between issues in medical anthropological and real-life dilemmas and strategies that accompany life-threatening illness.  In every respect, you are realizing my more specifically literary goal of combining or juxtaposing (not integrating or assimilating) media that show/describe and media that comment/analyze/explain.  How can we have it both ways?  I love the way your work crosses between these two very different ways of exploring and responding to our embodiment, in sickness and in health.  It lifts my spirits, knowing that anthropology is moving in such novel and thrilling directions, transgressing or dismissing old borderlines, trying out new forms of direct experience, and looking for new ways of reporting on those experiences.
With many thanks for sharing your work and providing such excitement to my otherwise academically stuffy day!
Warmly,
Michael

 

K5 Screening

Our London thank you premiere took place in K5 Studios in London on the 23rd November 2014 thanks to the wonderful hospitality of Daniel Hernandez and the K5 Artists Community. K5 is a non-commercial, privately owned and run studio space in North London.

We had a full programme for the day starting with a mini-workshop with Alyssa and Sonja that drew on some of the themes of the film. A  jam followed, which for many was an ideal preparation for the screening.

After the screening we shared food and shared our impressions of the film. The small group made for a wonderful discussion.

Workshop Plan

Workshop Plan

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The Jam

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Daniel Hernandez improvising on the piano.

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Post screening sharing and feedback.

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A very cosy screening, despite the pouring rain outside.

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Jam

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A particularly poignant moment in the film.

 

 

First Review of ‘Five Ways In’

‘This film is radiant and perceptive and pleasurable to watch. It achieves a rich and reflexive multivocality. Through a series of uniquely reflexive vignettes, from a Hawaiian political activist to Swedish biodynamic gardener, the filmmakers weave a narrative that foregrounds the inextricable bond between individual knowledge, experience and bodily intelligence.’ (Richards, J. 2014. Review of Five Ways In)

 

The first review of ‘Five Ways In’  was written by  third year anthropology student, Jade Richards, at the University of Kent for one of the assessments for the Visual Anthropology Theory course I teach. As part of my intergration of research and teaching I showed ‘Five Ways In’ in our weekly visual anthropology screenings in the week dedicated to ‘Soundscapes and the Senses’ in mid October. She has contributed to the wider research process this website is attempting through her review identifying the resonances between the film, her own interests and key ideas in visual anthropology and beyond.

 

Five People, Five Senses, One Form  -Jade Richards

 

In a world where vision governs knowledge, Five Ways In (2014) insightfully seeks to understand the meaning and multisensorial texture of experience. Filmed over the week long Freiburg International Contact Improvisation Festival, it fights the illusion of visual dominance; a perception that eclipses our sense of variety of the ways in which we engage with the world. Interestingly, the piece straddles the border of visual anthropology and documentary film, not esoteric enough to exist out of the mainstream, as the message communicated is one of reflection, yet it parallels the multisensoriality of the ethnographic process. By celebrating the participants as its starting position it beautifully exploits documentary realism as a medium of ethnographic exposition and a way of valuing the involvement of all who share the experience. Collaboration as a motivation for the films design shines through in the structure of the festival guiding the structure of the piece, allowing time to tell the story.

 

This film is radiant and perceptive and pleasurable to watch. It achieves a rich and reflexive multivocality. Through a series of uniquely reflexive vignettes, from a Hawaiian political activist to Swedish biodynamic gardener, the filmmakers weave a narrative that foregrounds the inextricable bond between individual knowledge, experience and bodily intelligence. Enriching these video modules are the plentiful shots of contact improvisation itself, a form of postmodern expression in which the possibilities of communal bodily movement are explored. The dance uniquely manifests itself in each moment depending on the counterbalance of those meeting, moving in concert with each other’s weight, rolling and suspending with momentum together. The five interviewed participants, each with different personal scenarios, are presented as they see themselves during this time, it does not reveal many insights beyond the festival but that does not seem to be its intention. Instead, revealing how they look to the form as a frame in which to elucidate the flow of choice making, response and a way to better understand their own sensitivities. Through their humility, the viewer can appreciate the body as more than a surface for social inscription.

 

The film surrenders itself to the influences of Jean Rouch through embracing the notion of shared anthropology and creative collaboration. No one voice is ever dominant, resonating with the egalitarian dynamics out of which the film grew. This translates favourably into practical strategies for shooting; the informal hand held camerawork communicates something of the ethnographer’s experience that does not claim to be prescriptive. The presence of the camera is addressed, captured and validated with the viewer feeling very much in the centre of the action. One particularly spirited moment when two dancers play with the camera mid improvisation not only added joy to the dance but also rendered the role of the initiator and responder indistinguishable. The filming became part of the dance and in doing so, acted to facilitate the participant’s creativity within the frame of the event (MacDougall 2006:27, Ramey 2011:282). It is a wonder that perhaps Rouch would have declared the somewhat ‘character’ formations of the interviews as a betrayal of authenticity, but it does not feel that way. It appears that much effort during post-production has gone into knowing when to desist from narrative and allow moments to connect and resonate; there is balance between observation and interpretation, dance and interview. The interviews create a structure in which expression of the dance is allowed to thrive. Similar to Jaguar (1967), this was a story of initiation for the viewer into an unfamiliar world. In the same way Rouch questioned colonial assumptions, this film scales it down to something more personal, impelling the viewer to acknowledge their culturally assumed routes to knowledge instead.

 

Beyond collaboration, lessons from Rouch have trickled down into the minds of the filmmakers in writing with “one’s eyes, one’s ears, with one’s body; it’s to enter into something” (1975: 94). The film does not aim to explore any one particular analytical point about the festival (the ambiguous endorsement of a single interpretation seemingly reflects the lack of definition of the form itself) but seeks to do something more ambitious, namely, to evoke a more vicarious experience. Although the primary value of communication is placed upon contact, an integrated appreciation of the interplay between tactile, sonic and visual senses is created through framing choices, subtle editing and soundscape design. Thus recognising the potential of a film to engage with the senses, as well as reviving the imperative for film to place you back into the experience of being there. The absorbing effect of so much contact imagery invite sensations of tactile movement in the viewer despite being separated from the physical encounter (Novack 1990:158-9). By means of this editing the viewer corporeally inhabits the three dimensional space of the festival. The distinct tones and articulations of voices out of frame, including that of the filmmaker, as well as the open frequencies and subtle reverb applied to the outdoor sequences act as the “perceptual clues” through which the film actualises a space analogous to that of reality (Stoller 1997:35-36, MacDougall 2006:25). Thus the audience attributes prior experience to the viewing, creating affinities with bodies other than our own (MacDougall 2006:16-7). As a creative means of orientation the soundtrack is used decisively to create a stream of time and a sensory state of heightened awareness. By including improvised music alongside the environmental surround sound, especially during the eating and workshop sequences, balances the discordance of volume and texture whilst inducing a sense of social space and rhythm, evoking a full sensorium (Grasseni 2011:24, Banks 2011:14).

 

In my opinion, the film is innovative in its assessment of and sensitive to ways of rendering anthropological truth. Unlike heavily observational films, such as Leviathan (2012), that lack consideration for multiplicity, this piece does not devalue visual media by reducing it to an uncomfortably ‘unedited’ and unanalysed piece. Through editing participant interviews as an act of analysis, the filmmakers are saying something that relates to their own experience of what contact improvisation is as well as what visual anthropology is. Thus relating a profound sense of anthropological recognition for the experiential world as something that we do not passively live in but actively produce and transform through praxis (Jackson 2006: xxii). In this way this film exerts creative agency, by not merely representing but contributing to emergent visual forms of anthropology, but through an ethnographic analysis that suggests that the ways of seeing cannot be disjointed from ways of interpreting (Banks 2011:7, Grasseni 2011:21). So, when a literary view or purely observational film can take us only so far, Five Ways In explores other forms of reason or experience. Less preoccupied with intellectual certainty, the filmmakers engage in ‘sensuous scholarship’ that is grounded in their own bodies as well as the bodies of their collaborators and viewers as they live, move and dance together (Stoller 1997).

 

Filmography

 

Five Ways In (2014) Directed by S Brühlmann, A Lynes, M Poltorak. Potolahi Productions: UK

 

Jaguar (1967) Directed by Jean Rouch. Les Film de la Pléiade: Paris

 

Leviathan (2012) Directed by L Castaing-Taylor, V Paravel. Cinema Guild: USA

 

Bibliography

 

Banks, M. Ruby, J. (2011) Introduction: Made to be Seen: Perspectives on the History of Visual Anthropology. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago.

 

Grasseni, C. (2011) ‘Skilled Visions: Toward an Ecology of Visual Inscriptions’, in Banks, M and Ruby, J (eds) Made to be Seen: Perspectives on the History of Visual Anthropology. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago.

 

Jackson, M. (2005) Existential Anthropology: Events, Exigencies and Effects. Bergahn Books: Oxford.

 

MacDougall, D. (2006) The Corporeal Image: Film, Ethnography and the Senses. Princeton University Press: Princeton.

 

Novack, C. (1990) Sharing the Dance: Contact Improvisation and American Culture. The University of Wisconsin Press: Wisconsin.

 

Ramey, K. (2011) ‘Productive Dissonance and Sensuous Image-making: Visual Anthropology and Experimental Film’, in Banks, M and Ruby, J (eds) Made to be Seen: Perspectives on the History of Visual Anthropology. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago.

 

Rouch, J. (1975) ‘The Camera and Man’, in Hoking, P (eds) Principles of Visual Anthropology. The Hague: Mouton, 83-107.

 

Stoller, P. (1997) Sensuous Scholarship. University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia.

 

 

Community

Raquel asked the question ‘What is the community of contact improvisation?”. Our documentary could only touch on such a huge question given the global reach of CI and the many ways that CI communities have formed in many different constellations for many different purposes. However, our ending on Lior’s focus on support, does give one key insight or ‘way in’ to some answers to this question? The fact that dancing CI can be a lonely path but that festivals and jams provides a way to connect and build confidence in one’s own interest is one direction that might be explored in some contexts. Raquel’s statement about the need for community and connection in Latin America is another. There are many reports of very exciting and community oriented developments of CI in Argentina, for example, that are yet to be documented and shared with the wider CI community.

Another interesting area is how CI is used and could be used in intentional communities and eco-villages for building a greater sense of connection between people and how it might contribute to decision making? Group decision making was a particular area of interest of Jashana and she organised a lab at Freiburg to explore it, that did not feature in our documentary.

We are particularly interested in developing this further and invite contribution and invitations on this theme. As several of us have a strong interest in supporting intentional communities we intend to explore the link more between CI and community by showing the documentary in communities all over Europe.

We are also very interested how CI communities are successfully built and maintained all over Europe by enthusiasts who often do so on a voluntary basis? Is there some learning to be had from exploring different CI communities in the European context?