Movement Playlist #8–Contact Improvisation
We’re Jammin’; 84 mins
This past Sunday, I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting Pramod Miguel Bento and Rita Vilhena, two beautiful dancers and Contact Improvisation facilitators in Lisbon, Portugal. Every Sunday, Pramod and Rita facilitate open Contact Improvisation classes followed by a 2 hour jam session. Like in most dance classes– live or digital music facilitates the class too. To my delight Pramod and Rita’s music was fantastic. They even allowed me play some of my own playlists.
When did Contact Improvisation develop?
It’s said that it was started and presented by American Dancer/Choreographer, Steve Paxton in 1970’s in the United States, however it is now practiced all over the world. There’s even an online directory where you can find out where to take contact improvisation classes or attend a jam session. Check out Contact Quarterly, started by a dancer and founding participant, Nancy Stark Smith, for more information.
What happens in a Contact Jam?
The facilitator often sets the environment (usually after a warmup or improvisation class) where dancers alternate partners in and out of the main space with or without music. ‘Partners’ begin in a duet which can form into a group. Dancers outside the main space can relax, stretch, or keep improvising. The object is to stay in the present, listen to your body, listen to other dancers’ bodies, and be open to playful movement exploration, or authentic movement.
Are there any rules?
There are certain techniques and movements that dancers can use within a Contact Improvisation jam. The general ‘technique’ is to maintain a soft, yet supportive body to help distribute weight, which is the key. Movements are kept soft and supple to allow elements of ‘surprise’ within the body, within the space, and with your partner(s). ‘The floor is your friend’, they say! Therefore maintaining a sense of being grounded helps the dancer find balance and necessary feedback to create the next movement.
Discover more –
A few months ago, I’ve started covering Barre Fitness classes for City Academy and Triyoga, Camden, which caters towards those interested in ballet, cardio and overall movement and alignment as an upbeat fitness class. These classes also include yoga and pilates mat exercises.
This particular method has challenged me to keep my music upbeat, simple, clear, yet really enjoyable. In this playlist, you’ll get a sample of what I’d usually play when I’m teaching these classes, which is quite different from my slower driven mixes meant for improvisation, for example.
What is Barre Fitness?
Barre Fitness may also be called ‘barre fit’, ‘barre workout’, ‘barre core’, or ‘ballet barre’. This method is derivative and based off the Lotte-Berk Method and The Bar Method. It wonderfully targets muscle groups while focusing on lengthening the muscles, just like ballet. Classes sizes are usually with up to 6-7 people at a time, so it’s gives you a ‘group personal training’ feel.
What are my Barre Fitness classes like?
It’s a mixture of Yoga and Dance moves combined with specific strengthening and stretching exercises. These exercises include the use of props, such as weights, and floor work. My goal is always to allow students to pay attention to their alignment during to gain the most out of each exercise.
The class focuses on always working and using the entire body but in ways that are achievable yet challenging. Key emphasis: back of leg (i.e. hamstring, gluteus) and core connection. At the end, you’ll feel more energised, properly aligned, and ready for the rest of your day.
Kindall usually covers the 1:15PM Barre Fitness class, Saturdays at Triyoga, Camden. Stay tuned for updates on the blog’s Facebook page.
If you liked that one, check out my Warm Up and Cool Down Playlist.
About the Playlist
These tunes can be used for a warm up, a cool down, or both. Conveniently timed at just a little over 60 minutes, use half for a warm up and the other half for a cool down. The playlist was created for beginning with a gentle warm up of the entire body by articulating different parts of the body while gradually picking up the pace. The play list then slows down again to prepare the body the longer, slower movements and stretching.
Here are some key benefits of warming up and cooling down.
Benefits of the Warm Up:
Warming up should occur before any physical activity especially before stretching. This allows the body to increase circulation, body temperature, and heart rate.
Prepares for the body for explosive movements like sprinting or jumping
Prevents and reduces injury
Warm up for at least 20-30 minutes to allow the body time respond, this can also help mental preparation
Allows greater range of motion during the actual workout
Here are some examples of a warm up.
Benefits of the Cool Down:
Slows down blood flow after strenuous activity
During the cool down, the muscles are ready to be gently stretched
Allows you to relax, if needed
Can also aid in injury prevention and reduction
Want something for your workout? Check out Movement Playlist #3: Repetition.
About the Playlist
This playlist was originally made for my Thursday ‘Ballet Fusion’ class, however it pretty much captures the mood of a typical evening for me. Perhaps it’s the feeling that it’s almost the weekend and it’s finally sunny? I think so.
I’ll just leave this here. Enjoy.
Favorite pastime: listening to music from different rooms.
About the Playlist
Have you ever listened to your favorite track in another room only to realize that there seems to be parts you haven’t noticed before? This could be referred to as ‘the other room effect’ or diffraction. This ‘other room effect’ is also a sound effect electronic musicians have been using for years. This playlist is made of longer, more bass-like tunes that are meant to be played from another room. Perfect for spring cleaning, perhaps?
What’s in a Sound Wave?
The reflection of sound can be classified as an echo or reverberation. An echo is considered to occur within long distances (e.g. the Grand Canyon) and reverberation to occur within short distances (e.g. Grizzly Bear… performing in a bathroom).
The refraction of sound happens when waves change over different mediums and/or properties, and therefore changes the speed of the wave. For example, the speed of sound is faster in warm air and slower in cold air.
Lastly, the diffraction of sound help sound waves bend around obstacles. Low-pitched (long wavelength) sounds carry further than high-pitched (short wavelength) sounds (e.g. an owl’s hoots carry farther than a birds’ tweets through a forest).
Distorting or changing the acoustics of a room can further manipulate our perception of sound. Custom Audio Designs states, that there are three psychoacoustic perceptions: frequency response, size and position of the stereo, and spatial impression.Trevor Cox, an Acoustic and Audio Engineering Professor also states that “one thing our brain senses from reverberation [for example] is the geometry of the room where music is being played”. What we then perceive is timbre, ‘the colour’ or tone of the sound.
Try placing your music box in a bigger room, a smaller room, a different room from where you are, or just in a different position.
Have fun xo
Check out this month’s tunes and quick facts on repetition.
About the Playlist
“Could you repeat that?” is a bit jazzy, a bit ‘gooey’ with some gentle repetition. However, it does not include the greats such as Steve Reich or Phillip Glass as the playlist is kept short and sweet. Originally created for teaching and movement devising purposes, its eclectic sound is quite seamless. This playlist ranges from deep electronic bass lines to swirling guitar riffs alongside tambourines.
Why is musical repetition often appealing?
Some say we are actually processing each repetitive moment differently allowing us to enjoying it almost as new. David Huron states that, “90% of the time spent listening to music, people are actually hearing passages they’ve listened to before.” There is also something called the exposure effect where the act of repeated exposure can actually enhance our feelings towards that something over and over again.
Ricky O’cannon reports, in a study found in pop music, that repetition can correlate with popularity. A song that repeats its chorus may mean that we want to hear over and over again. In another experiment, Elizabeth Margulis mentions that repetition is often registered as being ‘very human’. For example, a phrase that was once found as random may become clearer and more meaningful the second time around.
Why is movement repetition often appealing?
Think Twyla Tharp, Lar Lubovitch and Pina Bausch. In the response to the saying “you cannot bathe in the same river twice”, Anna Kisselgoff puts it nicely: “In translation, this means that the dancer who seems to repeat the same step is different from the dancer he was a second ago […]”. In addition, repetition could make choreography more effective as the audience would need to see certain or movements again to connect with the work.
Dance also uses a repetition technique called retrograde where a phrase or a piece of choreography is performed in reserve order. A fun example would be the ending of Hofesh Shechter’s Political Mother (Director’s Cut), where the dancers repeat the entire performance from the end to the beginning. Retrograde can provide a new visual experience with it being somewhat recognizable which can enhance the viewers experience.
More on Music, Movement and Repetition
Presenting you the 2nd dose of my current musical rotation.
About the playlist
I wanted a mixture of tunes to serve as an alarm clock (especially in the pitch black), a motivator (within the 3 hours of sunlight), and a relaxation tool (once I’ve finally wound my self up). So I’ve put together a combination of both gentle and driving beats. The following facts and suggestions have also been an inspiration to organisation this month’s current rotation during these short days and long nights. Shuffle, repeat, keep, and delete as you may.
Morning exercise is often the best exercise
- Using upbeat music can help motivate your movement and/or morning boogie routine.
- Early morning exercise can also help lower blood pressure and provide a good night’s sleep later on in the day.
- Not a morning person? Fortunately, it can take as little as 5 minutes for movement to improve your mood.
- Make and keep a morning routine, even on the weekends if possible (having a good playlist helps too).
- Music can help distract the mind from sensations of fatigue (especially during high intensity movements) by narrowing one’s attention.
- While music may not make the movements easier, the mover is more likely to have more of a pleasurable experience.
- Using music for exercise is not only good for cardio but for the brain as it enhances our vestibular abilities.
- Music and rhythm can be used as a therapeutic tool as it works on our autonomic nervous system, which allows the body to subconsciously enhance our well–being.
Calm it down
- Before bed, choose music with less key changes and slower tempos to help you relax says Dr. Williamson. Getting adequate sleep plays a key role in waking up more refreshed in the morning (obviously, but often difficult to achieve).
- Modified and slow yoga poses/stretches can help induce the parasympathetic nervous system, which means letting your fast paced, stressful day all behind you.
- Classical music was previously found to reduce sleeping problems in participants with sleep disorders (oh why hello, Bach).
- Just like a morning routine, try to maintain an evening routine by creating a ‘wind down’ period because sleep matters… a lot.
Now introducing Movement Playlists–
for teachers, choreographers, movers, anyone.
What a favorite pastime– listening to music. Maybe I was a musician in my past life or maybe I will be a DJ in the next one (ha). Either way, I love making and sharing playlists. Along with sharing music, I’ll also dish out a few facts about music and movement such as the possible links between the two and what research has found.
Music + Movement
- When music enters the central nervous system, some information goes to the brain and some goes to our motor nerves and spinal cord. This means we tend to move to the rhythm without even trying.
- Both music and dance deal with movements of the body measured in time. However, the body is often more time consuming than musical gestures (e.g. a violin trill).
- Rhythm is classified in three groups: motor rhythm, breathing rhythm, and emotional rhythm.
- Dance and movement may have rhythm in common, but it may not have melody in common.
- An infamous research study has shown that music and movement do share a common structure that helps the brain process emotional expression due to their shared neural circuits, which became evident across cultures.
Stay tuned for more playlists and quick facts every month.