This workshop was on Saturday 29 July; part of Contact meets Contemporary 2017.
I am suspended, weightless in the water. What a relief! It’s good to be off the ground: after five days of dancing at this festival, I have a swollen knee from the impact of the hard floor of the Felix-Klein Gymnasium!
The pool is shallow. Standing in it, the water does not quite reach our necks. Daniel introduces the concepts of water dance while we are in a tight circle of about forty five people.
We work with a partner and one of us is the dancer – floating – while the other stands and guides. Initially, there are ‘pool noodles’ (buoyancy aids) which are hooked under the knee of the water dancer. Guiding them is giving support to the back and the head with open hands, and introducing movement.
We can also maintain contact with the dancer by putting their leg on our shoulder – both to support and direct them.
Daniel demonstrates a sequence for us and our partner. One of us stands and guides the floating partner, moving them very gently. Occasionally, they float under the water – there is no sense of panic and the nose clips helps with this. They don’t sink, and quickly gain their natural buoyancy. We can use ‘compression’ when we bring our partner close to us and hold them to our chest – either facing us or with their back to us. It’s the mommy or daddy instinct says Daniel. At the end of the sequence, we move them into a more vertical orientation and sit them on our knee. I find the whole experience induces calm, and deep sense of relaxation. We swap roles with our partner.
For the water dancing – the ‘water jam’, Daniel gives advice: move slowly; open hands; don’t kick as if swimming – it’s unnecessary; the floor of the pool is very close for standing. I find that regulating my buoyancy is perhaps the most important skill – a stream of bubbles leaving my lips. There is no ‘diving down’ – no struggling against anything.
During the water jam, we are very close in the pool to each other but the sense of contact with others is so different when there is no weight giving! We are much more of a mass – dancing in an ensemble – than is found in a jam on land. We are like a shoal of fish: gliding, tumbling, rolling.
The sense of suspension in water is quite profound; beautiful. After the water dance session, I ask a women who was with me, what she thinks of it. She says ‘I have no words’. She is rendered speechless from the experience.
[Below: This video gives a sense of the water dance workshop although it is taken from elsewhere.]
Website for Daniel Werner & Joerg Hassmann: http://www.dancecontact.de/en/