Residency in Contact Improvisation
for Experienced Dancers July22-Sept1, 2018
$600Canadian per week includes all meals, lodging, tuition, pick-up and return to the ferry, and taxes. Arrive on Sunday, depart on Saturday. There is a preference for participants doing the entire 6weeks. For those wishing to do the entire residency, the total fee is $3000 if you register by May1st.
This 6week Residency is a result of the things that worked in the 19day workshop in July’17 and the 19day Residency in Aug’17. It is a combination of what worked from the two events last year; the things that were asked for more.
There will be daily morning class of 2 hours. This class is lead by Mark Young in the foundations of Contact Improv with all the basic skills that we need to do good CI including spiral rolls, crescent rolls, aikido rolls, the small dance and all that leads us to aerials. There will be a morning Tai Chi session prior to the 2 hour class.
Participants at Leviathan have become accustomed to the 4hour lunch break. Experience has shown the wisdom of this practice. There is no rush to leave the floor when the morning class ends. There is no rush to eat. Food is abundant. Some people like to meditate for an hour, there will be a group sit in the studio 2:30-3:30. Some like to get in the ocean during the lunch break. I like to nap before the one hour sit. We will maintain the 4 hour lunch break throughout this 6week adventure.
The afternoon session is for group lab work. With the guidance of co-facilitators, Olivia Shaffer and Kyle Syverson (bios below) we will delve into the questions and curiosities of participants as they relate to Contact Improv. This is an opportunity for participants to raise their questions, explore their limitations with the support of the group.
We will have the input of various guest teachers who will lead us through short workshops. Karen Nelson will lead us through material of her choosing; material that is her present day intrigue after decades of inquiry.
Although registration is on a week-to-week basis, some weeks require that you participate in the previous week. There is a preference for people who register for the whole residency. We want people from the beginning to bond with the group. Of course, not everyone has the time to devote 6 weeks to this project. Some will leave early and others will start late.
Session 1: July22-28- Tai Chi, spiral/crescent/aikido rolls. If you don’t know these rolls, then now is a good time to start the Residency. We will continue to practice them throughout the Residency but this week will be devoted to in depth study.
Session 2: July29-Aug4- Going deeper with the work. Same as session 1, but more. All these things take time, more than a week, and they benefit anyone at any level. You will become softer and stronger with more tone. Your dancing will be noticeably improved by this time. There will be an emphasis on jams as we assimilate the work and prepare for Alicia’s workshop.
Session 3: Aug5-11– We will start the week (MTWT) with Alicia Grayson (see workshop below) leading us through a 4 day workshop. You must do session 2 to do session 3. We want to present a solid group of dancers to when she arrives. It takes a few days just to get unwound from the city never mind grounded in the daily rigours of 3 sessions daily. After this workshop, we will return to the schedule of morning class with Mark and afternoon labs with Olivia and Kyle. Friday will be a day of rest.
Session 4: Aug12-18- We will continue with the 2hour conditioning class in the morning with Mark and afternoon lab sessions with Olivia and Kyle. Last year, at the end of the 19day workshop there was a sense that we were just getting going and there was a strong request for a 4th week to just assimilate the material. Further down the rabbit hole we go with 24h jam/silent day and walking backwards exercises.
Session 5: Aug19-25 You must do session 4 to participate in session 5. Karen Nelson will start the week with 4days of Tuning Scores. See below for class description and bio. Friday will be a day of rest and on Saturday we will return to the morning conditioning class and afternoon lab sessions. By this time, the evening jams will be magical with a base group of participants who have been working together for four weeks.
Session 6: Aug26-Sept1- Assimilation: From past experience, time is requested for assimilation of all that we have learned. No new material will be presented just continued exploration. Consider a morning session of Tai Chi leading to a jam. The afternoon session may start with a long practice of walking backwards. Walking backwards through the forest develops awareness of what is behind you. With a soft and subtle body, and heightened awareness through meditation, with a group of participants that has gelled over time, we will do what we love most, jam. This week could also be titled, ‘Advanced.’ No new participants will join this week.
Alicia Grayson’s workshop: CI Principles: From the Ground Up, A Journey through the Chakras: Each session we will focus on one of the 7 major chakras as a lens through which we build solo and partnering skills that support contact improvisation. Working from the ground up we expand our abilities to listen to ourselves and our partners so that the flow of life energy can move effortlessly through us as we improvise in contact. The following themes gleaned from the 7 major chakras will weave their way into the workshop: Earth: creating and deepening a felt sense of safety, refining one’s ability to listen and respond though touch, continuously sensing the ground through own and partner’s body, integrating feet and legs to pelvic floor and spine. Water: accessing the power and fluidity of the pelvis and integrating it with rest of the body as co-create with partner, continuity of the rolling point of contact, moving with embodied pleasure, navigating healthy boundaries, using momentum to create more ease in dancing, intentionally going off balance to create opportunities for the joy of falling and flying. Fire: moving from own center (the source of life energy) and connecting to partner’s, delighting in and deepening one’s solo dance while dancing with partner, exploring the organs of liver, stomach and kidneys as support for empowered dancing Air: expanding the awareness of the lungs and breath as well as the arms and hands and their relationship to the heart, developing strategies for creating lightness in the body, allowing the spectrum of heart qualities to dance us. Sound and vibration: freeing up the neck, throat and jaw as a means to open self expression while we move, integrating the head and torso though the pathway of the digestive tube, refining the ability to work with spherical space and inversions.Light and perception: using the physical eyes and imagination to give more depth in our perception, inviting the eyes to be the steering wheel for the spine, closing the eyes and opening to deeper levels of sensation and visualization so our inner world dances us.Opening to the Source or the Mystery: opening oneself to the creative unknown, navigating the head as a limb, integrating all parts of the body, mind and spirit so that the improvisation flows freely. We practice these skills in an environment that honors our physical, emotional and mental boundaries…and invites their expansion. In contact improvisation we discover the magic that happens as we play with our creative minds and hearts and the physics of two (or more) bodies in motion.
Alicia Grayson has been passionately involved with dancing, teaching and performing CI for the past 30 years. She has taught contact improvisation as an adjunct faculty at George Washington University, University of Denver, Naropa University and Shenandoah University. She teaches CI, yoga and pilates classes in Colorado and regularly travels nationally and internationally to teach. Her long time practices of authentic movement, yoga and meditation, her work as a somatic psychotherapist and transformational coach and her love of nature are important influences on her dancing and teaching. She delights in exploring and discovering new depths to contact improvisation and related disciplines and is particularly interested in the intersection of physics and expression and the mind/body relationship.
Karen Nelson’s 40-year dance and performance practice has been influenced by mentor/collaborator’s Steve Paxton and Lisa Nelson’s, Material for the Spine, Contact, and Tuning Scores (respectively), and with many others around the world. A dancer/choreographer, performer, teacher and organizer, Karen co-founded Joint Forces Dance Co, Breitenbush Jam, Dance Ability, Diverse Dance Research Retreat, and the performance group Image Lab, among other projects.
Image Lab intensively developed Tuning Scores together for nearly a decade in the 1990s, and autonomously in current collaborations. They performed Tuning Scores Observatories in the US, Europe and Asia. A regular guest teacher at the Schools for New Dance Development in Amsterdam and Arnhem, Karen made numerous teaching visits including Bates Festival, Movement Research and Festivals in South America. She’s received awards from National Endowment for the Arts, Oregon Arts Commission, National Performance Network, Wild Woods Foundation, Vashon Allied Arts, NW New Works.
Karen’s workshop will emphasize ‘Tuning Scores’ dynamic inter-dancing. Our dancing body is a playground of investigation. Our senses are the detectives. Our awareness and imagination employ physicality to embody and reveal composition in relation to our environment and each other. Stillness, continuous movement, engagement of skin, muscle, skeleton, and particularly the eyes: how they move, how they move us, how we can see and make compositional choices with our eyes closed. How witnessing is dancing. This is the tip of a large body of work. Your body, your work. Scores are games with guidelines that help the players communicate with each other. A language gets made between the players that can make sense, and meaning within a dance shared together can unfold.
Olivia Shaffer is an independent performer, improviser, choreographer and teacher from Vancouver, BC. She holds a BFA and a Liberal Arts Certificate from the School for Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. She works as a freelance dance artist with several Vancouver-based companies such as EDAM Dance, Co.ERASGA, MACHiNENOiSY and Raven Spirit Dance, among others. Since 2011, Olivia has had the pleasure and privilege of developing her skills under the guidance of two mentors: CI master Peter Bingham and somatic movement expert Helen Walkley. Olivia trains daily with Peter and his renown dance company EDAM, and has an ongoing rapport with Helen as a devoted student and artistic collaborator.
Olivia has participated in numerous CI intensives with notables such as Andrew Harwood, Ray Chung and Frey Faust. She has taught in North America and Southeast Asia, and has been performing with Vancouver-based CI company EDAM Dance since 2014.
www.oliviashaffer.ca Olivia’s approach to Contact Improvisation (CI) is rooted in cultivating an awareness of our body’s physical sensations and an embodied tuning to the present moment. Classes will incorporate solo movement investigations and hands-on partner work. Principles such as yielding, head-tail connection, and push patterns will be explored to enrich our dancing in contact with others. These explorations will help us integrate the interconnections of our limbs and notice unnecessary tension in our bodies. We will examine pathways that allow us to move in and out of the floor with ease and efficiency. As we begin to dance together we will discover the innate physics in our movements. Gravity can become a tool rather than a hindrance. By learning to gently pour the weight of our body into others, we will notice how timing can allow for effortless movements. Similarly, we will explore how we can make ourselves light and supportive in surrendering to weight flow and counterbalance. Olivia’s classes offer an opportunity to develop CI techniques that will both foster the dancing of beginners and satisfy the hunger of more advanced practitioners.
Kyle Syverson is a passionate student, practitioner, and teacher of Contact Improvisation. After years of competitive gymnastics and ballet, Kyle (thankfully!) found her way to modern dance and Contact Improv. Kyle resides in Saskatoon, teaching CI sessions at the University of Saskatchewan and in the community. She has been influenced by MANY generous and inspiring teachers, including: Nancy Stark Smith, Martin Keogh, Daniella Schwartz and Eckhart Mueller, Yves Candau, Ray Chung, Katarina Eriksson. Every body, every dance is a teacher though and that is part of the fascination of Contact Improvisation for Kyle. She loves the range and inclusivity of Contact- from slow and subtle dances to high stakes adrenaline
Kyle endeavours to teach individual pathways of softness and support, athleticism and listening. Kyle is interested in exploring the infinite possibilities of connection with other sensing bodies. Who do we connect with? How? When? How do we create/transform states, together? How can we deeply listen to ourselves, another body, the moment? …how can we become more comfortable with the unknown, with ‘disorientation’, with inversion?! For Kyle, Contact Improv is art, sport and meditation.
Mark Young has been doing Contact Improvisation since 1997. What began as fun re-hab after a traumatic accident quickly became a serious study. He also began a serious study of Tai Chi and Vipassana meditation around the same time, these are the foundations of Contact Improvisation. He has studied C.I. with Nancy Stark Smith, Ray Chung, Karen Nelson, John Faichney, Alicia Grayson, and attended numerous conferences with the originators of the form at Breitenbush Hot Springs retreat centre. Also, he has attended numerous Contact Improv jams at Earthdance retreat centre in Massachusetts over the past 15 years.
In 2000 he committed all of his resources to the creation of Leviathan Studio, a dance studio committed to the study of Contact Improvisation.
Mark’s classes will begin with Tai Chi foundation exercises as taught by Master Moy Lin-Shin. These exercises are to get us moving spirally while shifting weight in a fluid manner. We will connect Tai Chi exercises to Spiral Rolls and then show how spiraling while dancing conserves energy, provides a more stable base, increases tone and provides more clear communication with our partner. The morning class is dance training for any level. The class will be rigorous. Those rolls…Spiral, Crescent, Aikido. We will do them on the floor and with a partner leading to aerials. We will learn to fall before we learn to fly.
Other activities that a participant can expect to see in labs are the ‘Jumper-catcher’ exercises that quicken the reflexes and soften the reactions. Silent Day has proven very beneficial in cultivating awareness. We will do a 24hour-silent-jam, perhaps more than once.