Contact Improv Workshop and Jam with Mark Young, June23-July6, 2024

This workshop connects Tai Chi to Material For the Spine to Contact Improvisation. It involves a lot of spiral movement. We start with floor work and slowly work our way up, rolling over each other, finding the floor with safe and gentle landings, we explore the fear reflex, overcoming old habits, exploring new pathways and possibilities.

Arrive on Sunday, June 23 in the afternoon. First class is Monday morning at 10am. Final class is Friday, July 5th. This workshops ends at 10am Saturday with departure on the 11am ferry. $1500Canadian includes all meals, snacks, accommodation, tuition, taxes and transportation to/from the studio to the ferry. Go to ‘Contact Us’ on the right side of the page to register or inquire.

The Tai Chi style that I studied extensively in the 90’s is based entirely on spiral movement. It is the natural organization of all life. Everything from the DNA to the Milky Way is spiralling. Our bones and muscles are designed and function in spirals. This way of moving accesses both strength and lightness. When lifting, we are stronger and more stable when utilizing spirals. When flying, we are lighter when twisted.

To help us access spirals in our body, we train extensively with Steve Paxton’s helix rolls from Material For the Spine. We will also train with Simone Forti’s, crescent rolls. And, we will look at how these movements play out in the Contact Improv duet, over and over again. When dancing, we are never in a pure spiral or a pure crescent. We are always in a hybrid of the two. Watch for it and then come explore.

Here are some videos to get an idea of what class looks like. People who are new to CI get tremendous change and development in their dance. Advanced, experienced dancers get a new way of looking at things, overcoming old patterns and incorporating new movement to utilize in choreography. It’s the soft and gentle dance that exemplifies good CI, not muscling and forcing something that shouldn’t be happening.

Leviathan Studio provides the ultimate environment to study and train in Contact Improvisation. The studio was designed for Contact Improvisation. The floor is suspended on car tires for soft landings. The food is plentiful, high quality, both high in protein and fat. The workshop format of 12days allows for learning, assimilation and practice. The evening sauna unwinds tension before bed. Situated at the top of hill on an island, off-grid, no wifi distractions, no sirens, no traffic…it is ideal.

I have been encouraged to name this workshop, ’Contact Mechanics,’ or ‘Contact Improv Mechanics.’ We are looking at the ways and shapes in which two bodies move together with smooth flow, ease, feathery light touch, and speed. Spiral movement, as studied in tai chi, is essential in good CI. Utilizing tai chi and Paxton’s helix rolls, we adapt these movements to the duet form of Contact Improv. We find ease of movement, flow, feathery light touch in elevations and soft descents. 

The aikido roll informs us of how to conserve energy when coming down and how to redirect that energy towards up. We are not here to cuddle. We are here to dance. We will explore ways of how to incorporate the aikido roll into our dances.

The daily routine is a 2hr morning class, long lunch break of 4hrs, afternoon Contemplative Dance Practice(CDP), and an evening jam followed by sauna. Food is always available and this isn’t the usual beans and tofu. Wild Sockeye salmon is served along with free range organic chickens raised on the property, wild lamb, Lasqueti raised pork and beef, as well as, lots of fruit and fresh kale from the garden.

Contemplative Dance Practice was created by Barbara Dilly. It is practiced in three sections. The first 20min is silent meditation. The second 20min is personal warm-up. The third section 40min of group work or collaborative, often leading to really good Contact Improvisation. It is the quality of listening that is enhanced that, in turn, leads to a feathery light quality in duets, with qualities of fast, soft and subtle. Listening is not something we do with our ears. That is hearing. Listening is what we do with all our senses when we direct attention. Listening leads to enhanced awareness. 

Most participants notice a change in their dance by the third day. This sensation continues for every day of the workshop, a sense of having better, more meaningful, more fulfilling dances. It becomes evident to the observer of the evening jams, that the group has improved as CI dancers. Old patterns of blocking or stopping the flow are eliminated as new pathways are discovered. There are good choreographic sequences to be gleaned from this workshop for any professional dancers.

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