GLACIER stands for Great Lakes Area Contact Improvisation Enthusiast Retreat.
About 30 people from around the nation, including myself, gathered together in Wisconsin for three to five days to learn, explore, play and try out concepts of Contact Improvisation and Improvisation. When it comes to Contact Improv, I definitely still consider myself a novice….. in fact I think I always will. There is something new to learn in every single dance that is shared between two people. There is always more room for listening, for enhancing the seamlessness, for deepening the practice. I’ve found that the small discoveries in this unique dance help inform many other practices both in the studio space and in the “great” practice of life. One of the many things I took away from GLACIER, was the significance of patience. Patience with one’s self, the patience with the dance, and the patience with the discoveries. Things will sometimes occur at a glacial pace- AND THATS OKAY.
This is a new concept- as someone who’s been born out of training in classical forms, there is sometimes a desire to focus on the end product, a feeling of urgency to move or to make something happen rather than to LET it happen. Contact Improvisation is so beautifully designed in a way that forces a mindset of allowance and openness. You can certainly have an agenda, but who’s to say that your partner is going to listen- maybe they have a different idea. The compromise that must happen to create a dance can only happen from a place of tuning in, of sensing and authentically listening. I’ve found that, for me, this most often means dropping expectations of myself and immersing myself in the journey of patience. I listen to the thoughts race around in my ahead- most often thoughts of judgement, of evaluation of my movement or the supposed “value” of the dance I am having with somebody… BUT if I wait long enough and sit in that patience I can let those thoughts wash through and authentic movement comes instead. What is left when the thoughts are gone- simplicity and sensation and impulse. These foster a beautiful relationship in the dance and can communicate to your partner that you are open to the possibilities.
As humans our impulses and curiosities can go a mile a minute- I know I’m guilty of that. The true making of the dance is the conversation between you and your partner(s’) impulses. I’ve discovered that the most rewarding interactions that I encountered were those that I was really patient with- the ones that I let develop with time and focus. To keep your attention in one idea allows for legibility, so your partner, too, can choose to fulfill that idea or to switch entirely. Legibility with our bodies is key.