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...
I sit in my garden with my eyes closed and meditate. I chant,“There are no weeds. There are no weeds”. Yet there are weeds! And if I pretend they are not there, I will not be adequately set up to deal with them. And if I do not see the weeds, I am more likely to blame the vegetables for growing poorly. I sit in a studio with a hundred other people. I am looking out large windows at a mountain view, and find comfort nestled in this mountain valley. It is the start of a retreat, and the participants all sit in a circle awaiting the opening instructions. I feel brave or perhaps naïve or a mix of both. I say this because I have returned to this retreat where I was sexually assaulted a year previously. The retreat organizers dealt with the assault in an appropriate manner and made many changes to their event to increase safety. But still, I am feeling unsure how being here will work out for me...
Author: Kathleen ReaPublished October, 2021This past week I was on the receiving end of several apologies. Many were solid effective apologies, however, in the mix were some that were renditions of the “I am sorry my actions triggered you” apology. To these people, I sent a reframe: “Your apology is focused on me, and I... Continue Reading →
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 →
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?
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....