Thursday, May 24, 2012

I described this clip, from the movie Microcosmos, in discussions at the lab 1 1/2 weeks ago, Mike encouraged me to post it here:

(Some of you already got this by email sorry about the double-post).
This past Monday I brought some work to explore intimacy & trust in our backspace.  My focus on the head and tail was inspired by learning recently how innervation of the parasympathetic nervous system departs the spinal cord primarily from the brainstem and the sacrum, and not so much from the mid/main part of the spine.  That correlates with my own experience and perception of the head and sacrum being places where, if handled right by a nurturing partner, induce a sense of being cared for.  We had a super-small turnout, just me Liz Mike & Scott, but went ahead with my planned program anyway, the others suggested I might want to repeat it with a larger group in a few weeks, if we want.

  1. egg-uterus exercise. I brought this directly from a egg-implants-in-uterus exercise Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen taught a few weeks ago.  When an embryo implants in the uterus it burrows into the wall of the uterus and then the uterine wall encloses over it.  Two dancers stand back-to-front, the person in front acts as embryo and backs into the the uterus dancer, while the uterus dancer offers support/resistance, and gradually enfolds the embryo dancer in their arms.
  2. head into gut.  Active dancer leads with their head, mostly eyes closed, pressing into gut of a caretaker dancer.  Caretaker dancer allows head-leading dancer to initiate but offers resistance and safety.  Caretaker dancer can use hands on active dancer as well. 
  3. tail into gut.  Same as above but active dancer leads with tail.
  4. falling backward.  We started by practicing falling backwards, and trusting the (inanimate) safety of a stack of mats that would cushion our landing.  It is incredibly hard to fall flat backwards this way, without invoking a reflex to tuck your head (or fold your whole body to protect your head).  Once we were able to fall into the mats, we tried the same in a group but trusting people to catch us rather than mats.
  5. backward-falling duets.  Working in duets, we tried to maintain that sense of trusting our partner to catch us when falling into the backspace.  One dancer is the active faller, the other dancer is the caretaker/catcher.  The faller begins with eyes open but eventually eyes closed to emphasize the act of trusting.
  6. open dance.
Exercises #2 and #3 didn't seem to go quite where I wanted, I think all of us found ouselves distracted by the mechanics of the exercises and they didn't evoke the sentiment of surrender & caretaking that I had hoped for. Yet, when we got to the open dance I really did feel like I had been strongly affected by the sequence of what we had done before and was dancing differently than usual.  Surprised to discover that the invitation to go into the backspace had me going upside down a little more than usual.  The other three folks all gave feedback that more active movement leading into the sequence of exercises might help (I went straight into #1 at 7pm).  Scott, Mike, Liz you want to share any impressions?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What's an intimate dance?

Yesterday's lab involved cataloging the decisions we don't make when the opportunity presents itself. This can happen on a physical, emotional, or narrative level. A dance is heading in a certain direction, and rather than following the trajectory of a moment, we turn away and make a safer choice. We choose not to leap into back space, untrusting of ourselves or our partners. We break eye contact because it's uncomfortable, or avoid an intimate moment because it's too vulnerable. The list we generated was fascinating, and I'm excited to explore some of the CI moments in which we lack courage.

At the end of the night, we tabled a really interesting question: What is an intimate dance?

Nate suggested that an intimate dance is one that focuses on senses rather than momentum. Liz felt strongly that any intimate dance has to contain vulnerability, pleasure, and listening (did I get that right, Liz?). Cyrus talked about a process of partners "attuning" with one another. We had a hard time agreeing on a concise definition, though I think most of us would have said that "we know it when we feel it." Regardless, it begs another question: Are we all talking about the same thing when we talk about an intimate dance?


Also: can a trio be intimate? An ensemble? A fast dance? Does an intimate dance need to be relaxed, or can there be an element of struggle or conflict? How often are "unbalanced" dances happening, in which one partner feels a sense of intimacy and another partner doesn't? Does intimacy change the physicality of a dance, or just the mental and emotional framework we have while dancing it? Is intimacy always obvious to people witnessing the dance?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A clip from Fall After Newton

During the previous potluck and at tonight's lab, we talked about wanting to share some video, in particular revisiting some of the videos that document CI's early days. I thought I'd start us off.

Here's a clip from Fall After Newton. There's so much in here that goes really beautifully with the lab we did tonight around being upside down.

May 7th - June 18th Session: Courage

Here are the notes from our April 30 potluck and the overview for this session:

When: 7 Mondays, taking us through 6/18. Our next potluck will tentatively be on 6/25. The space is open for personal warmup from 6:30-7pm. Focused lab starts at 7pm sharp, which is also when we'll stop chit-chatting.
Who: Mike, Liz, Cyrus, Roel, Michal, Cody, Scott, Kaitlyn, Sheila, Nate, Christian, Lisa
Cost: $20/person. I vote that we just standardize this and put any excess into a fund that will go towards a lab retreat / special event.
Facilitation: Cyrus is facilitating week 1, all about being upside-down. Mike is facilitating week 2 (audits! whoah!). The rest are TBD.
The big theme: COURAGE
Underlying research questions:
  • Where are the places that we stop ourselves from going in the dance (physically, emotionally, intimately, narratively)?
  • What would it look like to find the courage to go to these places?
  • Is protecting ourselves from these scary spots necessary? Are we actually in any sort of real danger?
  • Are there any skills we could learn/exchange/develop that would make it safer to go to these spots?
  • Is there any way to find more ease or comfort in in scary or uncomfortable places?
Structural considerations, ideas, and requests:
  • More direct feedback: People have voiced that they'd like more opportunities to receive direct feedback/advice/direction about their dancing. We talked about building in audits, or places where people can take stock of specific habits or tendencies and receive direct feedback and direction around them from other labbers.
  • ...but less talking. While processing and reflection is important, folks weren't sure that talking and processing actually affects the course of the lab or how any of us dance. How do we reflect in meaningful ways, and in more varied ways than just a talking circle?
  • Focused collective warm-up time so that we drop into the dance, physically and mentally. Folks reiterated that they like to have a clear, focused, and extended warmup that allows us all to arrive on all levels together and "drop in."
  • Less "classy," more "labby." Folks wanted to see more possibility of lab participants actively changing the course of a lab and being more actively involved in engaging the research questions. Cyrus had the idea of introducing counterfacilitators, designated folks whose role is to actively check and redirect the facilitator to reflect the needs and interests of the group, or just keep things interesting. Other folks suggested coming with more open structures or setups that allow the full group more active input in a developing flow for the night.