“What is Contact?” Contact Improvisation

In these classes, we explore principles of contact improvisation such as falling, rolling, dancing off-center, tracking gravitational pull, sharing weight, dancing in spherical space, and creating multi-limbed, unpredictable bodies to dance with. We work on dancing with our specific bodies and noticing how they are changing in each moment. We foreground negotiations of consent and practice giving and seeking consent in verbal and physical languages. Sometimes, we sharpen our attention to our changing environment enough to dance at the very edge of our collective abilities, pushing on our conceptions of “risk” by expanding the threshold of our sensitivity. Always, we attempt to become more aware of the ways we affect and are affected by each other—whether or not we are in physical contact.

Permeable Practices (formerly Relationscapes): Improvisation as Method for Researching Place

Permeable Practices is a communal research methodology that asks participants to examine overlaps, frictions, gaps, and interdependencies between public and private space choreographies. Drawing from contemplative, choreographic, anthropological, and somatic approaches, Permeable Practices investigates specific spaces from a variety of frames, and invites participants to “think physically” about how we are shaped by and shaping the spaces we inhabit. Permeable Practices unfolds in four phases: tuning, noticing, moving, and reflecting—each of which instigates participants to focus their awareness on the ways we are called to engage with bodies of architecture, urban design, fellow inhabitants, social constructs, and the law.

Permeable Practices was originally conceived of during a residency with CLASSCLASSCLASS and has been shaped by the participation of artists, architects, students, scholars, activists, and many others in New York, Virginia, Ohio, Montréal, Lublin, and Cairo. Its founding artists are Zena Bibler, Kathryn Baer Schetlick, and Brandin Steffensen.

Bodily Geometries (Ballet)

This is a ballet class. We start out holding a bar and completing a series of exercises that warm up our (asymmetrical) bodies symmetrically on right and left sides, using ballet movements to make deep bends, stretches, strikes, lifts, and circles with our arms and legs. We use gravity and the floor as our anchor and the essential support that allows us to move upward and outward. Sometimes we talk about how ballet has roots as a practice in which dancers accessed spiritual and political powers by striving toward ideas of geometric “perfection.” Always, we cultivate a suite of dynamic directions that help us build stability, commune with space, and find kinesthetic pleasure in the bodies we have.