26 – 30 December 2015, Katrineholm, Sweden
I call this residential workshop a retreat because we will rise early and in silence and my teaching will include a focus on contact improvisation as a form of meditation. The main teaching language will be English, with some translation into Swedish, French or German possible. All levels of experience and all kinds of bodies are welcome.
The programme consists of 36 hours of class (spread over one evening, three full days and one morning). Most of this time we will devote to studying and practicing contact improvisation: we will refine our sense of balance, investigate our relation to gravity, work with the momentum of moving bodies, wake up our reflexes, learn about modulating tone, and explore the intricacies of sharing weight.
Through working with the fundamentals of contact improvisation, we will explore touch and movement as relational practices. Bonding and bounding, consent and collaboration, safer spaces and negotiation will be some of our themes. I will draw on authentic movement, various kinds of bodywork, verbal and non-verbal communication tools, moving and sitting meditation, and anything else I feel the moment calls for.
This will be our daily schedule:
07:00 – 10:00 morning session
10:00 – 12:00 brunch & break
12:00 – 16:00 afternoon session
16:00 – 18:00 supper & break
18:00 – 21:00 evening session
One of the functions of this schedule – more akin to that of a meditation retreat than to that of most contact improvisation events – is to help re-contextualise contact improvisation as a form of contemplation, a means of self-healing and personal change.
Learning will take place at all hours. Some of our subjects of study will be: how we deal with unease and frustration, with desire and joy, with fear and pain; how we relate to others; how we say yes or no or maybe, verbally or nonverbally; how, why and what we eat; and how we sleep.
Meals will be vegan and organic. There will be fruit, vegetables, mushrooms, nuts and seeds, legumes and grains. We will not provide, and suggest you do not consume: fried food, sweets, chocolate, alcohol, tea, coffee or other stimulants. The use of cannabis or other drugs is strongly discouraged. Smokers are encouraged to use the occasion to drop the habit.
The physical and mental practices; the relatively long fast between supper and brunch; the cutting out of foods and substances we often use to stimulate ourselves, lift our mood or suppress anxiety; the attention to sleep and dreams; the appreciation of breathing – these are part of a framework meant to support us in challenging habitual patterns, facing ourselves and developing new forms of integration.
In other words, this retreat is meant to be not only an opportunity to learn new physical skills, but to deepen our experience of ourselves, to develop our capacity to communicate with others, to develop our sensitivity to our own and others’ needs, wishes and boundaries, and to extricate ourselves from limiting and harmful patterns of behaviour.
We will attempt to calm our minds and develop the intelligence of our bodies. Sometimes the dreams we dream at night will be material for our movement improvisation work.
About my teaching self
Contact improvisation has been my primary movement practice since 1986. I also practice aikido and am strongly influenced by the Feldenkrais method, Body Mind Centering and ideokinesis.
My teaching is informed by my background as a professional bodyworker, my studies in physiotherapy and osteopathy, my experience with different approaches to communication, and by my politics. I see my interest in radical social theory and my love of contact improvisation as two aspects of the same desire. One of my main projects is making contact improvisation available as a way of exploring body politics, as a tool for communication and personal change, to radical left, feminist, queer and antiracist activists.
I have been teaching the form since 1990. I always mostly taught where I lived (Berlin, Toulouse, London, Göteborg) but also travelled to give workshops all over Europe. I was centrally involved in organising four week-long contact improvisation festivals in London. In recent years I ventured further afield, teaching in China, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Australia.
I have been based in Sweden since March 2014. I live in Hjo, a small town on the shores of lake Vättern, where I work as a physiotherapist.
About our cook
Andreas Wittstock is a contact improviser and professional chef with long experience cooking for different kinds of groups and catering to different nutritional needs. I have twice had the pleasure of working with him in the past and think his food is amazing!
Accommodation will be dormitory style in a theatre space. Bring a mat, sleeping bag and whatever else you may need to get a good night’s rest (a pillow, earplugs, eyeshades, your favourite stuffed animal…)
About the venue
We will be hosted by Teater K in Katrineholm. We will have the use of several of its spaces. The venue is about ten minutes walk from the train station. The address is: Fredsgatan 4-8, 64130 Katrineholm, Sweden.
The fee includes food and accommodation. You can pay anything between SEK 1500 and SEK 2500 on a sliding scale according to your income. For example, if you are unemployed and are just about making ends meet, pay 1500; if you have a job but it’s not well paid, or part-time, pay 2000; if you have a decent income, pay 2500. If you have lots of money, consider sponsoring someone who would like to participate but can’t afford it (I can probably put you in touch with a few).
To reserve your place, please first contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, then transfer the full fee to the following account:
Account holder: Daniel Mang, Smedjegränd 3, 54432 Hjo, Sweden
Account number: 3188310
Clearing number: 9272
Bank: ICA Banken AB, Svetsarvägen 16, 171 41 Solna, Sweden
Don’t forget to put your name and what the payment is for (“WCIR 15”) in the payment reference.
Should you be unable to participate, I will refund you your payment.
Please mention any food intolerances, allergies or other special needs you might have in your registration email and we will do our best to take them into account.
Arrival and departure
The opening session on Saturday 26 December will run from 18:00 to 21:00. Please arrive by 17:30 latest so we can start together and on time. Feel free to come earlier in the day if that’s convenient for you. Note that the first meal we’ll provide will be brunch on Sunday at 10:00. The closing session on Wednesday 30 December will run from 07:00 to 10:00. Then there will be a meal as usual at 10:00, then a collective cleaning and tidying up of the space, and departures from about 13:00 on.
New Year Jam 30 Dec – 3 Jan
There will be a New Year Jam in Järna, 90 km east of Katrineholm (about one hour’s travel by train). It starts on Wednesday 30 December in the evening and runs until Sunday 3 January. For more information about it, or to register, please contact Magda Kleparska at email@example.com or +46 732553285.