TRIGGER WARNING: refers to aggression and sexual violence towards women Contact Improvisation Leaders. I have had a man yell outside the door of my jam for 30 minutes because I denied them entrance because they were breathing heavily and dry-humping woman while dancing. I went home that night, walking alone to the subway, scared I would be attacked. When I reached the safety of my home the trembling began and my entire body shook and shook...
Part Three In the “Dancing in the Land of Spiritual Bypassing” Series: Sally’s Story
“Lolita” is defined by Webster’s dictionary as a “precociously seductive girl.” The name and its meaning originate from Nabokov’s novel Lolita – a jarring tale of the sexual victimization of a child by the narrator. I empathize with Lolita in this article as I was often the youngest woman at contact events and found myself repeatedly sexualized. I also frequently noticed my voice dismissed as I was a new dancer. Furthermore, when I was young, I had a condition called ‘precocious puberty’ that caused premature development in my body and initiated my long, complex battle with PTSD. “The biggest crime in Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ is imposing your own dream upon someone else’s reality. Humbert Humbert is blind. He doesn’t see Lolita’s reality. He doesn’t see that Lolita should leave. He only sees Lolita as an extension of his own obsession. This is what a totalitarian state does.” -Azar Nafisi
Part Two In the “Dancing in the Land of Spiritual Bypassing” Series: Kate’s Story
A year ago I was a newcomer to contact improvisation (CI) who had been attending jams for about two months. But then I had a negative experience that caused me to end my involvement in the improvisation community. I had a one-time sexual encounter with someone who is a CI dancer and a local community leader. I gave feedback to the person telling him I was upset about what had happened...
Steps for Preventing Sexual Assault at Relational Movement Based Events
Author: Kathleen ReaPublished October, 2021I was inspired to write this post after reading a tongue-in-cheek list of how to prevent sexual assaults, which instead of the usual focus on the potential victim, had a list of points focused on the person who may feel predatory urges. This list sarcastically mocks the assault prevention tips that... Continue Reading →
Moving from Bystander to Action: Responding to Manipulative Behaviors
Ella has been doing Contact Improvisation for a few years. At a recent jam she had a dance with a more experienced and well known contact-improviser, Stan. In that dance, he manipulated her body into different shapes and lifts. She had danced with him before and the same thing had happened. She wanted to dance with him because he was fun to dance with, but she wished there could be a more equitable sharing of decision-making and lead/follow. She decided to have a chat with him and let him know...
20 Years of Coming to Terms: Shifting from Disempowerment to Systemic Thinking
Twenty Years of Coming to Terms: Shifting from Disempowerment to Activism and Systemic Thinking
Twenty years ago, I attended my very first Contact Improvisation workshop. My teacher, Karl Frost, skillfully twirled and swooped me around his body, and I felt a sense of connection and freedom I did not know was possible. The sky opened and a choir of angels sang, and in that moment of life-changing epiphany, I decided to dedicate the rest of my life to Contact Improvisation. And that is exactly what I have done. But something else happened that day that will forever be intertwined with my Contact Improvisation epiphany. The other feeling was not an epiphany at all… it was the opposite. I participated in something that I didn’t want to do, but only figured it out partway through.
Navigating Sex in Contact Improvisation for those in Positions of Power
I wrote this article for members of the contact improvisation community who have positions of power within their community. Their power can derive from being a teacher or organiser, which is a pretty clear leadership role. But sometimes, even if someone hasn't chosen a direct leadership role, they still may have power and influence as a result of the dominant culture giving them power due to certain defining characteristics. For example, a tall, athletic, good-looking young man who does really fancy lifts will often be given "rock star" status, whether he chooses it or not (or is even aware of it). Or a friendly older person who has been going to the jam forever may be seen as a "guru" or "caretaker of the space", even if they are not a teacher.
Let’s say you are in a position of power and there is someone at a jam or class that you are attracted to. In this post-#metoo era how should you proceed?
The Newcomer Experience in Contact Dance Improvisation
It is Frank’s first-time dancing with Rose. Rose is a newcomer to contact dance improvisation, while Frank is an experienced dancer and has been attending jams for many years. He easily takes Rose into aerial lifts, and the dance is proceeding in a sensual direction. Frank is thinking, “Oh, yeah!”. He finds Rose beautiful and wonders if she might like to hang out after the jam. What do you think Frank should do?
As a contact dance improvisation facilitator, I am pro consensual high-flying lifts and pro consensual contact dances that explore different themes, such as intimacy and sensuality. In life outside dance, I am pro-consensual sex. These are all great and wonderful things. If Frank agrees with me, and his goal is to do these things with enthusiasic consent, then it is essential....