Sunday, March 18, 2012

Falling and Flying: CI with Erica Kaufman

In March of 2012, Origins continued its foray into contact improvisation with a 4 day workshop facilitated by Erica Kaufman, a dancer, choreographer, yogini, creative expressionist and contact improviser from the US. The workshop was conducted from the 12th to the 15th of March in KAPA, Brigade Road and it proved to be a wonderful experience for all involved.

We began on the floor, finding what Steve Paxton, one of the originators of CI, called “the small dance”. Reacquainting ourselves with the ebb and flow of our own breath and the minutest movements within our body was like stepping into an inner, mysterious world, for on the outside all one could see were still bodies. Slowly we established a relationship with the ground, from which we rose and fell back to with increasing ease.

The pace picked up in the following days as we tumbled through the basics of CI and began to work in tandem with other participants. Partner work came into play and the experience was very much like a great playground where all were welcome and accepted. We were cautioned against trying to execute certain movements that were laboured, like lifts, and instead to create opportunities for these movements to occur. This can be essentially trying for dancers who are eager to expand into daring movements, but the gentle pace with which we began made it easier for us to connect to each other and soon things were effortless.

All along, we got to interact with Erica everyday on a growing personal level, sharing our experiences and thoughts on CI and contemporary culture and dance in India. The final day was a culmination of the process we had undergone with the added element of live music. Bangalore band Thaalavattam graciously agreed to an improvised contact jam and provided a surreal soundscape to the explosion of energy from the dancers.

“It was truly a transformative experience, I felt,” shared one of the participants. Another spoke with passion of the surge of energy he had felt during the jam and how he felt CI was his language of choice. Some of the participants revealed that they had initially felt reluctant about CI, given it’s nature of full body contact, but the workshop had given them a glimpse into the depth of the work and changed their opinion.

If you missed out on this event, don’t be dismayed.  Erica plans to return and is looking to collaborate with a larger group of dancers to create a production in the near future. We’ll keep you posted with the information.

Erica Kaufman, MFA, E-RYT500+ is a dancer, choreographer, founder of the Lîla Yoga Institute, creative expressionist and contact improviser. From her childhood in Israel she moved to the USA for graduate studies, then toured as a teacher/dancer in festivals and performances in the U.S., Germany, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia Hungary, and Israel.  Erica Kaufman's dance and choreography is committed to movement experimentation and contact improvisation as a vehicle of discovery, creativity, and expression. Her dances are characterized by the weaving together of abstract somatics with literal, cerebral word play. Since joining academia in 1989, Erica has been a faculty member at Point Park College Dance Conservatory, Visiting Professor at University of Marburg in Germany, Adjunct Professor at the University of Denver and currently on faculty at Pennsylvania State University.

To learn more about the artists who collaborated on this project, please visit
Photos courtesy of Saajan Thomas and Avinash Shetty
Kalari Academy of Performing Arts

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