Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Exploring Contact with Lional Lishoy

On a cloudy, rainy day in Bangalore, in August 2014, a group of bodies met at Just Dance Studio to explore contact improvisation with facilitator Lional Lishoy. Just Dance Studio is perched on the 3rd floor of a building in Frazer Town, with marvelous wooden flooring and windows that look out onto rooftops and treetops. The group that gathered included dancers, musicians and non-dancers, all of whom eagerly jumped at the chance to dive into contact.
Lional, who is an avid contact improviser, led a session,emphasising the art of listening through the body. He began by allowing participants to become comfortable with their partners and their own bodies in silence.
We sat down on the floor and each supported the other, creating a kind of breathing architecture. 
connecting through contact
connecting through contact
The important thing here was to listen to our partner and connect through the breath; becoming aware of ourselves and them at the same time. Far from being asleep, we felt intensely awake and aware. 

From that initiation point, one partner supported the other as the ‘mover’ responded to stimuli from the environment, both internal and external.  As the mover explores the environment, the supporter helps in providing opportunities to go further, and is also discovering movement along the way.
supporting movement
supporting movement
We continued on this journey while Lional drew our attention to key points such as exploring multiple options of support and observing the difference between supporting a partner and controlling them.

Initially, participants worked with closed eyes in order to stimulate other senses of perception and later on they opened their eyes to integrate sight. Roles were then exchanged to allow everyone to experience the process fully.
The group was extremely positive about the work.  As one participant said, “For me, the whole session was about exploring the point of contact, support, and listening to your partner. I felt awesome at the end, because these concepts appeal to me. I could explore my own body while working with someone else’s.”

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Body, mind & spirit with Butoh

Upcoming Butoh Festivals:
Proposal letter from Rhizome Lee of Quiet House.

"India Rhizoming Tour 2014-2015"

Dear Friends
This is the first proposal letter for
"India Rhizoming Tour 2014-2015"
In this Autumn-Winter, 2014 two Butoh Festivals.
1. 9th International Butoh Festival Himalaya November
16-26 at Subbody School HImalaya, Dharamsala
2. 2nd International Butoh Festival Delhi, around December 3-10 or more.
at Quiet House and Zorba the Buddha, Delhi
After then, we are starting Rhizoming tour all around
India with workshops and collaborations,  performances at various
places with various members.
Rhizoming tour India Facilitators and Organizers
Facilitator: Rhizome Lee, Agu Tara, Ankur Pandy
Organizers (expected): are the following.
3. Assam: organized by Monuj,
Middle of December for one week or two weeks.
4. Manipur: organized by Srujit
End of December or beginning of January for one week or two weeks
5. Auroville: organized by Kaeridwyn January, 2015 for one week or two weeks
6. Pune: organized by Snehal February, 2015 for one week or two weeks
7. Mumbai: organized by Shamaayal or Sai, February, 2015 for one week
or two weeks
During workshops or end of it, we will have performances at a theater,
cafe, nature, or on the street.
Also, collaborations with various Artists, Sculptors,
Instalators, musicians, visual artists and so on, flexibly.
These names of place and organizers are just a proposal by Lee.
If you are able to join in, please inform us soon.
Any unique ideas, experiments, proposals are welcome!
Till now, through these years experiences, we found
proper rules as the following;
1. Each organizer can decide the place, time and the fee
of workshop for participants freely, depend on each
At least organizer pay the trafic fee from previous
place to own place and accomodations to facilitator from the income of
2. About the rest amount of workshop income, organizer takes 40%, and
pay facilitator 60% of it.
Organizer can use the amount for free purpose,
advertising, promotion, support poor participants and so on.
3. For old subbody students, 30% ---50% discount for the participation fee.
Organizer can decide how much percent discount depend of the condition.
This is to activate the Nomad-rhizoming development
among old students and participants.
4. Local participants pay the workshop fee at the first
If some of them want to join in the rhizoming tour to
the next place for workshops and performances, the fee is free. They
have to pay for only transportation and accomodation fee by
This is to activate the total rhizoming process which
connect freely and separate flexibly, and exchange among different
creators in India and the World.
Let's keep contact and slowly fix the detail together.
--Rhizome Lee
- See more at: http://www.quiethouse.in/blog/india-rhizoming-tour-2014-2015#sthash.khvbywXz.uKYGFwsc.dpuf

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dancing with the Daffodils

William Wordsworth might have been pleasantly surprised to find his poem come alive in (of all places) South India. One of our arts-in-education projects took place between November of 2013 and January of 2014 at the aptly named Daffodils English High School. The facilitators were Karthik Raj, Archana B. Nair and Swasti Sharma who gives us an account of her experience.

Swasti Sharma: 
The children at Daffodils school are an extremely cheerful and enthusiastic bunch. The junior batch (classes 4 and 5) and senior batch(classes 9 and 10) are a group of highly energetic kids who have a willingness to learn absolutely any form of dance. Of course they prefer Bollywood over other forms but their zeal for contemporary, floor sequences, hip hop and even ballet is equal. Every Thursday and Friday at exactly 3:00 pm these children gather in the allotted room for the class. Their energy and happiness is so contagious that my travel and rehearsal fatigue just disappears. 
I taught them a small choreography on the song "Nagada sang dhol" from the movie Ramleela, which they grew immensely fond of, and they eventually forced me to choreograph the whole song for them. They were so happy to dance to this song that they were always ready to repeat it again and again. Once the children developed an interest in the classes, I introduced a contemporary sequence to the song "Tere Naina" which they enjoyed as well. These sequences became so important and dear to them that one of the students came up to me and asked if they could perform it in some event or school function. Unfortunately there was no such opportunity in the school curriculum during the session. 

I loved teaching them and it is incredibly satisfying to see smiling and happy faces after the classes. I'm eagerly waiting for the next session to start so that I can continue this interaction and help them learn and enjoy dance more. I'm sure they are equally eager as well.

The Daffodils

William Wordsworth1770 - 1850
I wandered lonely as a cloud
   That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
   A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
   And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
   Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
   Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A Poet could not but be gay,
   In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
   In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
   Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A sneak Peek into Fluid bodies!

Dance Educate Empower!

Few months of absolutely beautiful dancing, gathering and sharing.
Take a look at what had been upto...

We would like to acknowledge and thank all these people for being part of our community arts training program called FLUID supported by the ISPTD trust and run by The Kha Foundation.

Filmed by Nirup Divakaran and Abdul Raheem.

Contact Improvisation teachers: Lucy May Constantini, UK and Erica Kauffmann,USA.

Participating dancers are freelancers, from dance companies Nritarutya, LVDS, Navarasa, Tarantismo and other Bangalore cultural organisations.

Musicians: Montry Manuel, Mehdi Dehbandi and friends.

We would like to thank Lourd Vijay, Firdose Shaik and the fantastic people associated with the Connect Studios who have given us space to train, experiment, multiply and dive into dancing.

Uploaded by Dilip Shiva.

Fluid training program for dancers and actors organised by Nakula Somana.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

An actor's experience inside an improvised circle.

My  Reflections on  Contact Improvisation  

Every now and then you want to do something that would surprise you  and help you discover something about yourself  that you think never existed before  and I did something like that exactly when I decided to attend the “ contact improvisation ‘  workshop by Lucy May Constantini  a week ago.
Contact improvisation by definition  is an  improvised dance form  based on the communication between two moving bodies that are in physical contact and their combined relationship to the physical laws that govern their motion—gravity, momentum, inertia. The body, in order to open to these sensations, learns to release excess muscular tension and abandon a certain quality of willfulness to experience the natural flow of movement. Practice includes rolling, falling, being upside down, following a physical point of contact, supporting and giving weight to a partner.
I come from a non-dance background   with a little bit of  amateur theater experience and improvisation purely  from a  ‘playback theater’    or a ‘Whose line is it anyway’  format . These workshops  leverage the  ability to think on your feet and use language as the medium of expression  to perform for an audience and entertain them.  I had never thought that there would be an opportunity to just engage myself and perform for myself. That in itself is a whole beautiful creative process i realized  through this medium of contact improvisation.
 Before I enrolled into this I had enquired  from the organizer Nakula  if an entry level person like me  could attend and he was more than  open to have me as a part of the group.  The moment I entered the ‘space’ and got myself  into acknowledging the folks around I realized that most of them were actually professional /part time amazing dancers and I dint even know the abcd of dancing. I have infact just started learning contemporary dancing with Tarantismo , and one of their best teachers/ dancers were also around.  For a brief moment, my mind was struggling to find reason  and my body finding it's own feet as to what I was doing amidst such  good experienced dancers ? What would I  be able to learn and  what would I contribute  to the team as a whole ?
 However, I was very pleasantly surprised to find my unsettled mind calm down and my deepest fears laid to rest right from the word go when the workshop began because of the   way it was done  by   our  facilitator Lucy  and the people around   who went about in such a fashion that  by the end of it  I can say that I am more at peace with myself. I have learnt to see events/ things around from a completely different perspective, i.e to look at life and nature around as one big composition that we can only fathom to touch the top  layers that our  perception or should i say 'nervous system' can comprehend. This definitely  was something unexpected and unsettling . I use the word unexpected because when you dance  , most of the times its  with music; it’s with a certain  audience in mind  and follows a certain pattern.   This was nothing like that….
I do not want to list the activities or how it went about during the week, but I want to definitely share that  we began with doing something  very basic and from the  ‘ground’ level   quiet literally. Connecting to  the ground beneath not just my feet, but connecting the whole body to  earth  and your partner  and letting the earth receive and give energy to you is a very  unique experience.  It doesn’t matter if you  practice dance,  or music or  act on stage or just  go up and speak to an audience , but  the very  energy exchange that happens is something that I experienced  and allowed myself to enjoy it thoroughly .  The continuous  cycle of   : The earth- your center - touch - partner and the earth is an amazing feeling . At the very beginning,  it does take its time to come to terms with as there is  the fear lurking inside that  always creeps within  and asks me  -Why am I allowing  someone to  peek through a part of me  or even why am I allowing this part to come out of me to either be witnessed by myself or through someone watching ?  Have I exposed something or  shared my vulnerabilities , that was just for me  and my sensibilities ?
 Anyway once you begin to accept what you go through , there is something very beautiful that  emerges from the  space – the  emptiness and nothingness around that cannot be explained logically or intellectually.  From getting to know the earth , to ourselves, to partners and exploring the space through a dance that has no structure, no set rhythm  no set sound  no set time is fantastic and is something  so fundamentally transforming that  only when you experience it can you believe it . We are so used to the visual  means of perceiving the world around  that some of the things we did with our eyes closed gave us a whole new sense of  ‘sensation through the senses’. The whole time you just allow your body to function like it has a mind of its own and allow it to take and receive, feel and listen rather than use language or words to express or allow your brain to  respond and take control.
Whenever we would want to appreciate , the sign language  hand clapping or the reverse clapping  is what we followed so that we do not break out of the  state of self  that we are in. Understanding a composition , doing the sweeps , tilted room, expressing through imagery rather than long sentences   and many more things that I went through the workshop made me look at  things around from a very different perspective.  Another key thing   we did towards the end that I enjoyed was the whole ’underscore ‘ thing  on one of the days  that typically lasts for 2 hrs atleast.
Finally I do have to say that there is something about Lucy and the way she taught us  with such zeal , innovativeness in   her style , allowing us to experience reflections , satisfaction , empathy   and a whole lot of feelings  through the medium of   ‘pure  unstructured dance’ . We as a group are very humbled to have learnt from her and though this was just a one week workshop , we are deeply thankful   for having accepted us  to be worthy of knowing this   form of dance and sharing her insights  in the little time that we had with each other.

May we ‘contact ‘soon and ending it with a small poem by the movie maker Farhan Akhtar  ( in Hindi  first and then the  translation below  ) whose feelings I echo this very  moment
Pighlay neelam sa behta hua yeh samaan Neeli neeli si khamoshiyaan Na kahin hai zameen Na kahin aasmaan Sarsaraati huyi tehniyaan,pattiyaan Keh rahi hain ki bas ek tum ho yahaan Sirf main hoon meri saansein hain aur meri dhadkanein Aisi gehraiyaan Aisi tanhaiyaan Aur main sirf main Apne honay pe mujhko yaqeen aa gaya

The moment flows by like molten sapphire Deep Blue silences No Earth below No Sky above The rustling branches and leaves Saying that only you are here Only me My breath My heartbeat Such Depth like this Such Loneliness like this And me only me I now believe I exist

Know Shiv! - actor, improviser, runner!

Improvisation into Performance with Lucy! - the beginning of Fluids.


Pretty much as soon as the kalari puja at the end of Navaratri was over (towards the end of October), I was on a train to Bangalore.  Those who’ve followed my adventures in the past may remember that I spent two months there last time I was in India, choreographing, performing and teaching.  It was time to put on my dancer’s hat once again.  I was off to teach a workshop for dancers and actors, which we decided to call “Improvisation into Performance".

On day one, in our opening circle, I asked the assembled group to share why they had come to the workshop.  The reasons were various, but one woman confided she found it hard to recall the movement material she’d improvised when trying to set it later.  She hoped the workshop might help.
I said it might, but that wasn’t what the aim of this sort of improvisation.
It was a lovely and diverse group assembled in a large studio on busy Miller’s Road (co-incidentally, the road I had lived by, albeit further out of town, during my last stay).  There were some extremely skilled and experienced contemporary dancers, others with various classical or folk Indian backgrounds (kathakali, kathak, chau, bharatanatyam), some who were coming back to dance after a break, salsa dancers, Bollywood dancers.  All seemed curious and hungry for new information.  My intention was to teach skills of contact improvisation and also work with improvisational scores that could include solo, duet and group work.  The idea of scored improvisation was new to most of them and their experience of contact was at best limited to a few occasional workshops, there being no regular, ongoing jams or CI classes in Bangalore.

It seemed a no-brainer to introduce some of what I had been working on at Roehampton University in London last June during Nancy Stark-Smith’s Extended Underscore Workgroup (see here for a reminder about that). So the purpose wasn’t to help dancers remember what they do when they improvise, but to investigate the states and structures that allow improvisation itself to be performance, if or when we choose it to be so.   
Time was limited, but we managed to use elements of the Underscore to teach and refine contact skills, working initially in pairs or trios to find release into gravity, release into touch, specificity in giving and receiving touch.  Mostly, the first half of the class was devoted to contact skills while the second half was given over to practising scores (for those not familiar with the idea, a score in dance improvisation functions a little like a musical score; it gives structures, rules, that hold and shape the improvisation).
As the week progressed, it felt clearer and clearer that we should dance an Underscore – Bangalore’s first Underscore!  So we organised ourselves for the traditional talk-through of the various elements of the Underscore and then danced it during our two hour class the following evening.

There was a cyclone in Chennai at the time, which played havoc with weather and roads in Bangalore, but nonetheless, most of the group made it to the studio for Bangalore's first Underscore, no mean feat in itself.
For more pictures than this blog entry shows, please visit my “Bangalore’s First Underscore” Facebook album.
Each time I have worked with dancers in India, I have been reminded of what is so precious and life-affirming and challenging about the kind of dance I do, and why I love to share it. This was no exception. But in the end, I prefer to allow some of the participants to articulate their experience for themselves.
Shiv Kumar shared this in a note on Facebook:
I do not want to list the activities or how it went about during the week, but I want to definitely share that we began with doing something very basic and from the ‘ground’ level quite literally. Connecting to the ground beneath not just my feet, but connecting the whole body to earth and your partner and letting the earth receive and give energy to you is a very unique experience.  It doesn’t matter if you practice dance, or music or act on stage or just go up and speak to an audience, but the very energy exchange that happens is something that I experienced and allowed myself to enjoy it thoroughly.  The continuous cycle of: the earth- your center - touch - partner and the earth is an amazing feeling . At the very beginning, it does take its time to come to terms with it as there is  the fear lurking inside that always creeps within that asks me  - Why am I allowing  someone to peek through a part of me or even why am I allowing this part to come out of me to either be witnessed by myself or through someone watching?  Have I exposed something or shared my vulnerabilities, that was just for me and my sensibilities?
Anyway once you begin to accept what you go through , there is something very beautiful that emerges from the  space – the emptiness and nothingness around that cannot be explained logically or intellectually.  From getting to know the earth, to ourselves, to partners and exploring the space through a dance that has no structure, no set rhythm, no set sound, no set time is fantastic and is something so fundamentally transforming that only when you experience it can you believe it. We are so used to the visual means of perceiving the world around that some of the things we did with our eyes closed gave us a whole new sense of  ‘sensation through the 5 senses’. The whole time you just allow your body to function like it has a mind of its own and allow it to take and receive, feel and listen rather than use language or words to express or allow your brain to respond and take control. 

Shreeya Kishanpuria wrote:
One thing that I cherish taking back from the classes is... beginning to appreciate and enjoy my sense of touch. Felt so connected to myself and the stranger because of the Touch. It inevitably brought a smile to my face… It showed to the city dancers... a different meaning of performance! Not just something you would do on a high rise stage in front of an audience as a formal presentation…
At the time of the workshop, Nakula Somana, who had organised it, was inaugurating the idea of a collective of dance and theatre practitioners to organise ongoing training in Bangalore.  He decided to call it “Fluid” because of what the word implies about both physical qualities and flexibility of structure. 
In the Fluid Facebook group, Mafalda Mas Sangranichiny shared this: 
Lucy May Constantini workshop, the beginning of Fluid? Most of us think that her workshop change us in many different ways.... in my case it was a revealing work, it gave me a new view of myself being myself.... 
with love, x 
To know more about Lucy's adventures, please check out her blog : http://underthetrident.blogspot.in