Lessons from dancing with sticks – the semiotics of stick dancing

When I began teaching and facilitating dancing with sticks, I draw on my experience of contact improvisation but quickly found it wasn’t enough. I needed new concepts. A movement practice with sticks, has its own semiotics (meanings) and its own physics.

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Becoming Gentleness: performance

I’m very proud that despite a global pandemic, we still managed to create a new dance – ‘Becoming Gentleness’ – at Oxford Contact Dance. We danced with sticks – outdoors – in University Parks, Oxford on 23 October 2020. There was a beautiful sunset and a carpet of autumn leaves.

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Becoming Gentleness: composition session

A dance performance during a global pandemic was always going to be a bit different. At the composition session for it on 14 October 2020, we devised an outdoor dance in a park using sticks called ‘Becoming Gentleness’. The outdoor setting and the distancing from each other through sticks reduced the risk of infection from COVID-19.

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Zoom! Dancing together – alone

When the UK Coronavirus lock-down started in March 2020, dance sessions and classes were halted. The response of many organisers was to host the sessions by teleconferencing – often using the service from Zoom. Here, I reflect on three Zoom sessions at London Contact Improvisation with Robert Anderson, Rachel Dean, and Angus Bainbridge in spring and summer 2020.

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Looking back: Tango Diferente 2015

In Summer 2015, I attended Tango Diferente – a week-long course combining Argentine tango and contact improvisation, organised by Adriana Pegorer. It was held at Ponderosa, Stolzenhagen on the German Polish border. I wrote an essay about it ‘Dancing the metaphor : impressions of Tango Diferente 2015’ which is presented here.

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Dancing contact improvisation with ‘contact-through’

In an age of coronavirus (July 2020) with the need to avoid bodies in contact, we can have some contact with each other through the use of artefacts like – balls, ropes, fabrics, sticks or poles. We can ‘contact-through’ them to other dancers while dancing outside. This article includes Government guidelines about reducing infection risks.

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Dance with Social Distancing

Each summer, Oxford Contact Dance has organised Dance in the Park – where we dance contact improvisation outside. This year’s Dance in the Park is going to be a bit different due to COVID19. We won’t be dancing with our bodies in contact but physically distanced (‘social distancing’) and there must be no more than six dancers – by law (in England). Let’s investigate and research this configuration – six people, two metres apart. Let’s dance six two (#dance62)!

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Freiburg Research Project 2019 (‘NOT-YET CONTACT IMPROVISATION’ by Flor Campise and Meldy Ijpelaar)

At the Freiburg Contact Festival 2019, Flor Campise and Meldy Ijpelaar facilitated the festival research project entitled ‘From CI island to CI connective Rhizome’ – which included workshops that I also attended. Subsequently, they produced the zine ‘NOT-YET CONTACT IMPROVISATION’ drawing on their research.

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