Contact Improvisation on the BeachOn New Year’s Day, I had the privilege of teaching contact improvisation at an event called Sacred Movement, New Beginnings on the beach in Siesta Key, FL, an eight mile long island off the coast of Sarasota. Joining me was Nia teacher Kathy Oravec and yoga instructor Larisa Byely. Participants showed up on the white sand for an afternoon of looming clouds that weather forecasters threatened with an eighty percent chance of rain. We chose to see our chances for

Next Writing From the Body workshop, March 11, 2014!

staying dry as the cup half full.

The first day of the year is one of beginnings. So is every day and every moment. When we shift awareness to tune into breath, gesture, sensation, and whatever else appears on the perceptual horizon, we discover that each of these ripple out from each other, a relationship of interdependency. One cannot exist without the other. One implies or includes the other. Depending on the frame of reference, if we use diachronic or synchronic time, for instance, one and the next are the same.

The focus of the event was on transformation. How did we effectively ring in the new?

With intention. With movement. With abandon. With articulation, integrity, embodied awareness, and connection to the earth.

  • Articulate  State an intention. Write it down or say it to yourself. Make it conscious
  • Embody  Breathe. Notice events within the body. Attend to physical sensation, gesture, images, sounds, feelings, and memories.
  • Be true  Watch the shifting sands of your attention and the events as they develop. Watch for subtleties residing in the margins of awareness as well as that which is obvious. Witness how you restrain yourself and when you don’t. Honor your exhalations, the strain in your thigh, the lapping waves, the laughter, and sighs. Watch what presents itself. See what is.
  • Move  Play with expanding and contracting boundaries. Increase or slow pacing. Sprint, shake, roll. Reach out to the person beside you. Twist in place.
  • Let go  Surrender your usual control and tendency to judge. Simply be a moving, perceiving being in flow. Welcome spontaneity.
  • Connect  Feel the granules of sand massage the soles of your feet and send heat or tingles up the legs. Find the earth inside your body. Note the influence of sun, wind, and the presence of other bodies upon you.

Over a period of three hours, we danced with and without music, walked to the dunes and to the water’s edge, watched pelicans pass overhead, rolled in sand, brushed it off, and reflected on our lives. We created a mandala to represent the intention chosen at the start of the event that would launch us into the new year.

There is something sacred and exhilarating in knowingly engaging the body as a vehicle of expression. When we honor a part of us that we or the culture has neglected, when we balance obligatory activity with celebration, when we move in welcome community with one another, we return to our birthright, a full vitalizing breath, and our highest potential as a person. With the sun, earth, air, and water, we danced in celebration along with the granules of white sand and a rain that did not fall.

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