Contact Quarterly

Contact Quarterly (CQ) is a publication that was started within 10 years of the founding of Contact Improvisation, by Nancy Stark Smith, one of the form’s founders. They are still around today, and publish writing about Contact and movement. I had a short piece published as a second year at Oberlin, here it is.

Healing with Community Trust

Every summer, 70 young performers transform an outdoor landscape into an epic performance where the audience enters a story, physically moving through the world they’ve created. I love my work as the music director of the Hilltown Youth Performing Arts Programs. We also host the Recovery Theatre, an intensive for young people overcoming addiction. A practice we call “training,” essentially full-body follow-the leader, is central to our programs. It’s full of climbing and sprinting; we hoist people into the air on giant wooden spools or launch them off a flying trapeze. This exploration of physical risk taking and committed support allows kids to share their most intimate insecurities after just a few hours of meeting. As I first learned Contact Improvisation, my body would panic at the prospect of trusting someone with my full weight. But during my first jam, I could feel the wholehearted fervor of the room, as intertwined bodies flew around me and I danced with abandon. All of a sudden, my feet rose a few inches and landed just left of where they had started. My partner had just given me a lift in which
I felt safe and supported. I was both spooked (gasp!) and hooked (laughter).

I am interested in developing this practice of physical trust that rests at the center of CI and other kinds of emotional healing. This sense of trust is not just between individuals but one that runs through a whole group, encouraging fearless acts of bravery and vulnerability. Rigorous physical practice with others creates a space to fully trust ourselves and rely on the community to keep us safe. With my budding dance skills, I feel compelled to create more communities that connect through dancing and flying, forging a bond of togetherness that holds every single person in its embrace.

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