Warming Up to Sensation


As we come together in our warm up, our bodies negotiate the spaces between each other. We twist and twirl like slow graceful maggots.


The more partner dancing I do, the more I am both desensitized and sensitized to touch. “Tension masks sensation,” say the instructors at EDAM studio where I have begun practicing contact improvisation.

When I started dancing, I was more aware of who I was touching and I felt self-conscious. I was still stuck in a world where one’s contact with strangers is limited to handshakes. I did not know my body and I distrusted it. In a way, I was fearful of my body and the bodies of others. In a tense body, communication is halted, creativity is stifled, and knowing is concealed. When I can let go of the tension, I am aware of my body as a valuable place of knowing. I can more freely play and create. Awakened connection springs unexpectedly.

Every week we begin our contact improvisation practice with a floor warm-up. As I massage and reach and push my body into the ground, I become more aware of the tension that has built up from hunching my shoulders, from holding my jaw and from tightening my chest. I feel myself moving into motions and positions that I didn’t know I could do. It feels wonderful. When I live with bodily tension each day, what kinds of sensations am I missing?  What kinds of ways of knowing am I blocking?


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