Contact Improv & Body Politics
An introduction to a body of work that has been developed by Daniel and many others at various gatherings since around 2008, some of them going under the name of Radical Contact. This could include material on saying yes and no verbally and non-verbally, “tuning the gaze” (a format dealing with performance, objectification and the quality of the gaze), a danced version of the “privilege walk”, material on directness and boundaries, asking for specific kinds of touch and expressing appreciation.
Body politics refers to how social relations of domination and exploitation (gender, race, class, sexuality…) construct and impact bodies. Some examples of body political questions are: cultural constructions of health; disability, fat, body image, beauty, body norms in general; the objectification of bodies in art, advertising and daily life; sexualization and de-sexualization of bodies; more generally, how society ascribes meaning to different zones of the human body (“mapping”); how experiences of violence and oppression differentially tune people’s autonomic nervous systems (the “social nervous system”); more generally, how domination takes root in the body.
I have been interested in how social domination takes root in the body, and bodies as sites of resistance, in some way, since my late teens. Contact improvisation has been my primary movement practice since 1986. I also do aikido and am strongly influenced by the Feldenkrais method, Body Mind Centering and ideokinesis. I have been teaching contact improvisation since 1990 – mostly in Europe, but also in South East Asia and Australia. My pedagogy is informed by my background as a professional bodyworker, my studies in physiotherapy and osteopathy, my experience with communication tools such as co-counselling, 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. I am based in Sweden.