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...

Part One In The “Dancing in the Land of Spiritual Bypassing” Series: Dorit’s Story

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...

“Lucy’s” Story

Today is a big step for me... I finally decided to put this on paper. I still feel pain in my heart, and my body shivers when I think about these events. I have gathered up all my courage and I will start to write one article (story) at a time about my experiences in the Contact Improvisation (CI) world--as a woman, as a Person of Color, as a beginner--dealing with cis-male power and authority, consent, boundaries, and oppression. This is my story...

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.

“That lady”: A woman puts up a boundary in the contact improv world

It’s a typical Wednesday night in Toronto. In a third-floor ballroom, some forty people have come to dance together.  A bow lifts and settles on cello strings and one can see the bodies absorb the first awaited note. A couple in the corner are intertwined in a rolling dance in which it is hard to figure out whose body is whose. A high-flying trio graciously makes its way around them. The bodies in this space are engaged in a type of group sensory “listening” that uses all the senses to gauge space and direction of momentum. There are all types of dancers here, from those that dance professionally to those that do it for fun. The ages span nineteen-year-olds to seventy+, and include diverse body types. ....

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