Entering in a Contact Improvisation jam

Davide Casiraghi
Nov 28, 2017
There are some jams where we are fully present, dancing with all our grace. And some others the opposite. What does it make the difference? Is it possible to find a path that leads us every time to this state of flow?

For many years already I'm questioning myself about this topic, and I'm pretty sure that this philosopher's stone exists.
With philosopher's stone, I intend a way to awake our best state of availability and attentiveness, a kind of meditation state where we can listen in the meanwhile what is going on inside and what outside, in the ecosystem of which we are a part, the space, the partners, the flow of the events, everything else that is going on in the present moment.

So it is about keeping our attention on what is going on in the present moment, this reminds me of meditation.

In all kinds of meditation techniques, breath awareness is almost present,  used to shift our attention to something that is happening in the present moment. But in CI, rather than meditation, we are moving, and for this, we have many more elements where we can focus our attention on. Things are happening around us, things are moving inside us, physically and emotionally, we are interacting with one or more persons that also move in the space with us, and we are interacting with space. We are part of a complex ecosystem where everything is interconnected, in strong relation with the other elements.

It's about finding one focus, for our attention and keep it for a while. Space offers us a lot of constants and other moving bodies a lot of variables.  Here are some examples of the focus I use, organized into three categories.

I like to compare the warm-up to an image where I find myself knocking one or more doors to step in Alice's Wonderland. I can just knock these doors and wait, to step trough, and before or after one will open.

Some of the focus that works for me to stretch my senses and open up my ability to perceive more follows:

InternalMe - SpaceMe - Partner/s
Listening to the breath Mind the shadow of the objects in the space  Steel one movement
Allowing my shoulder blades to fall  Some reflections of the light on the dance floor (when I'm laying on the ground) Be aware of two persons with space at the same time
Keep my head above the atlas in the spot where it doesn't fall Notice how many colors in the space  
The weight of my hands  Notice something that attracts my curiosity in the space that I didn't notice before  
The skin of my feet compressed between the feet bones and the ground Touch many different objects  
Close my eyes and let me be inspired by what comes The air between my fingers, on my face, on my neck, on my feet  
Close my eyes and notice the place louder and the place less loud around me    


a multi layer pancakeThe idea of stretching my attention slowly starts with one focus, and when it starts to become easy we can add another one. It's like to build a pile of focus, like a multi-layer pancake. When the first focus is embodied, we add another above the pile, and so on.
So the one that we have added in the beginning, slowly go to my subconscious, leaving space for another one in the conscious space.

Before this, there are moments when adding/playing multiple focuses stretch the size of my aware consciousness.
And I define this as the space that holds our conscious present focus.

It takes a while to create this building up, for this reason, it is good to take our space-time in the beginning, for our warm-up, in silence, before starting to interact with another dance partner. At this moment music can still grab so much of our attention, especially for beginners.

And after a while I can start to have grazing or short engagements, to check if the door of the wonderland is already open.
I love to call wonderland the moment where I live dance in my most playful way when it's not driven by any thoughts, but by my instinct with my body-mind naturally deal with the unfolding of the events in the present moment, with the gravity, constantly playing with falling/catching myself, off-balance, asking support to my partner and the ground.

What are your favorites focuses to warm up?