This Saturday at Studio 408, in the South Portland space formerly inhabited by Casco Bay Movers, get blood and brain in motion at a bi-weekly contact jam. Studio 408 was opened by a new wave of Portland movement artists, including Kristen Stake, Delaney McDonough, and Cookie Harrist.
To be clear, contact improv isn't a recognized sport. Maybe not yet? Probably not ever. There's nothing competitive about it, unless you're someone who thrives on teasing out competitive energy from anyone in any setting. But like meditation or eating, you'll actually compromise yourself if you try to be "good" or "better" than the rest. And you'll end up a loser in a scenario where everyone else wins by default. Just show up.
You may arrive at this article with pre-formed notions and associations about contact improv. They may have served you well! It's an inclusive, activity for all body types that relies on self-selection, so there's sometimes little buffer, or perceived buffer, to prevent you from coming into contact with someone you don't feel comfortable coming into contact with. Women in particular seem to live their entire lives with this concern — the stress of which seems like a brutal sport in itself. But over the years, the practitioners of this simple, graceful art form have generated language and policies so that everyone feels sufficiently safe and empowered to take care of themselves and one another.
If you have questions, a helpful description of contact improvisation can be found at contactquarterly.com. Quite simply, it's the practice of establishing dialogue between two moving bodies in a given space. It can be a real workout and stress cleanser. Odds are decent it could also change your life.
Drop in on the contact improv jam every first and third Saturday. A skills class begins at 12:30 p.m., while the open jam runs at 1:30 until 3. The jam is $5-10, and the jam plus class is $10-15, all on a sliding scale. Studio 408 Dance is at 408 Broadway in South Portland — visit studio408portland.com for more.
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