I was in my twenties when I was first introduced to Contact Improv–an improvisational dance technique. The unrehearsed nature of this art form did not give me the luxury of knowing what I was supposed to do and getting good at it. It also didn’t give me any preliminary clues on what everyone else was going to be doing, so I couldn’t brace myself or prejudge the situation. The process was challenging, spontaneous and organic. It required me to trust the other dancers, and myself.
In the beginning it was difficult for me to stay centered and also be aware of my contact points with the other dancers. I was constantly faced with my rigidity and negative beliefs about myself, others and life. The demands of this improvisational art form awakened my senses. Originally, this constantly changing dance form was created to free the body of habitual movement patterns and help dancers learn how to move from a more authentic place. Ultimately, this dance technique enabled me to respond more genuinely to anything happening in any given moment-not just on the dance floor. The process was dynamic, organic and as unpredictable as life. It was a wonderful teacher!
The instructor directed us to place special attention on the points of contact as we moved together. It didn’t matter if we were on our feet, leaning against a wall, or being lifted into the air–we always had to be aware of our points of connection. This process helped me become aware of the fact that we are always transitioning from one point of contact to another point of contact–nothing is stationary. It also taught me how to stay in my conscious mind and be present in the moment.
Learning this technique shifted the way I experienced life. I had always felt insignificant and isolated, but moving in this manner helped me realize I was connected to everything–even the cracks in the dance studio wall. It also helped me see how my inaccurate beliefs were distorting my perceptions, coloring my responses and holding me back. When I came to the realization that all of life was an improvisational dance and that I am really connected to the ground when I stand, to the chair when I sit, and to another person when I speak–even if we disagree–I felt a deep sigh of relief. So if you find yourself feeling alone, isolated or insignificant–remember that we are all connected and are moving together in the unstructured dance called life. All of our thoughts, movements, and responses are impacting each other. So with that in mind, lets lose the dance of fear, negativity and judgment and instead create a dance of love, joy and acceptance.