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.
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?
Here is an article by Sarah Gottlieb that was published on Contact Improvisation Blog (contactimprovblog.com) Myths to Break Down: Moving Toward Ethical Communication and Ethical Sexuality in Contact Improvisation #1: It makes people uncomfortable to talk about boundary setting and sexuality right before dancing together. There is an idea that talking about boundaries, sexuality, or... Continue Reading →
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....