I recently substituted for Tim O’Donnell’s Monday morning class at 100 Grand Dance. This is a recap of 2-hour class at 100 Grand Dance, New York, NY, on Monday, November 16, 2017.
Recap is based on my class prep notes and a highly imperfect memory. As a result, it may not always reflect what was taught or said with 100% accuracy. Corrections and edits are very welcome — feel free to make a comment below.
Also, because sometimes it feels too difficult or unnecessary to write everything in full detail, this recap may use shorthand or may not be clear to someone who was not in the class. I’m happy to clarify — again, feel free to make a comment below.
This initial post will be a bit rough, but I’ll revise it in the next few days and add details.
- “Survey” of relative amount of CI experience, by how straight you sit up (no experience) to how low you crouch to the floor (very experience)
- There are many styles of contact improvisation, I’m only teaching one, which can be very different from Tim’s. Happy to answer questions later if you like.
- Take care of yourself
- step out if you need to
- adapt exercises if you need to
- My class plan doesn’t involve much rolling point of contact, which is a really important skill
Warm-up, getting into the space
- Walking around with curiosity
- at a normal walking pace
- feeling feet beneath the floor
- one’s own body
- are you walking faster than you might otherwise?
- stopping on occasion
- looking at the room and details of the space
- looking outside the window
- looking at each other
- brushing up against each other
- looking at the floor, going to the floor
- being curious overall
- at a normal walking pace
- “Scramble” (Simone Forti) — starting at a speed of 2. To 3, 4; 3, 2; 1 (slower than starting).
Shifting weight between feet, emptying and filling
- Based on an exercise taught to me by Rajendra Serber
- shifting side to side, pouring weight gradually from one foot to the other
- one foot empty, one foot full
- gradually filling the empty foot: 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% … 100%
- lift up the heel of the old foot to test that it’s empty
- pour weight back gradually into the old foot
- progression: slide old (empty) foot across the floor to a new location. Then shift weight into it slowly
- Experiment with this concept on the floor, on four feet (hands and knees) or eight feet (hand, elbows, knees, feet). (The concept of “eight feet” comes to me through Alyssa Lynes.)
Class theme: granularity
- Explaining the theme of the class: granularity
- Granularity is detail — perceiving and moving in detail, noticing and having control over small shifts, which allows for safety in bigger and faster movements
- Get curious about granularity! notice the details
X-rolls, pizza rolls
- lying on back or stomach in an X
- leading across the body with a limb (arm or leg), creating a spiral, until flipping over onto the opposite side
- partner assists by giving a little resistance and lengthening to the spiral, by sweeping up towards the limb on the same side of the body from that which is leading, to emphasize the spiral. (E.g., if A is lying on back and leading with the right foot, B will sweep from A’s right hip up to A’s right arm, emphasizing the spiral created between A’s right foot and right hand.)
- Pizza rolls:
- B is face down, A is perpendicular to B, with A’s belly on B’s center (lower back).
- A slowly rolls up and down B’s body, loosely using the X-roll pattern to assist the roll (e.g., one limb forward leads, one limb trailing slows A’s momentum)
- B bends knees if worried about A rolling over them
- A exercises a lot of caution around the upper back, so as not to roll on the head
Assisted forward and backward rolls (aikido/systema rolls)
- Rolling over the shoulder, forward and backwards, with a partner slowing down the process to emphasize granularity
- “contact-style” aikido roll
- starting from kneeling
- one arm turned outwards, rolling over that shoulder
- rolling across back to opposite hip
- and reverse
- systema rolls
- starting from kneeling, arm turned outwards
- rolling across top of back, shoulder to shoulder, then down the outside of the back — avoiding rolling across the spine
- while doing these rolls, partner can assist by putting hands on pelvis to slow momentum or help give you extra push over difficult parts. Focus is on feeling every moment of the roll, and controlling movement through balance tipping points.
- “contact-style” aikido roll
Taking someone off-balance (2×4)
- Based on an exercise taught to me by Scott Wells
- B takes A off-balance, while A remains relatively passive and stiff
- A stands upright. B faces A and puts hands on A’s shoulders, while B has one foot forward and one foot back. B asks A, “are you ready?” and waits for A to respond “yes.”
- B tips A forward towards B, taking A off-balance (A’s feet stay in the same spot). A is not resisting B’s impulses, nor helping them.
- B experiments with A’s weight, taking A off-balance and putting back on feet. B pays particular attention to:
- the moment when putting A back on balance, A’s weight is falling back towards heels instead of forward (a mini-balance point)
- the moment where A is back on axis, with weight balanced over feet
- Progression: B can play a little bit with A’s momentum instead of having complete control over A’s weight — e.g., letting A speed up a little in falling forward, tossing A back up and taking hands off before catching A.
Modified push-hands game
- Part 1
- A & B face each other standing, hands up and touching each other’s palms
- A & B gently push their hands back and forth together. As this continues, B slowly “fills” B’s arms and hands, gradually connecting them to B’s center
- when A feels B’s weight “catch,” A gently pushes B past B’s center, so that B takes a small step backwards
- Part 2
- A & B start in the same position, but now try to push each other off balance. A can push B off-balance when B’s hands are “full” — and B can avoid being pushed off-balance by emptying B’s hands.
Waiting for the jello to get firm
- A gives touch, B receives touch
- with hands
- A places a hand somewhere on B
- B is initially soft at that spot, with that spot unconnected to B’s center
- B gradually connects that spot to B’s center as A listens with touch
- When A feels B’s connection to B’s center — when the jello is firm — A can push/lean a little bit into B’s structure
- B might take away the structure (get softer, lighter), in which case A should match this by lightening
- When A feels the jello is firm, A can give a small push, and B can get a tiny ride (be pushed slightly off-center and take a step).
- Progression: A does the same, but with a body part other than hands
Hand lifts and open dancing
- demonstration of three lifts/rides possible through hand-to-hand contact, all through connecting the hands to the center
- pushing off of each other
- pulling oneself through the hands
- giving a platform for your partner to hand-vault off of
- open dancing playing with these concepts
- reflections and feedback