Debate after the Improjunction festival Pushkar India March 2014 / CI and ramifications of the word “Jam”

 

Karthik Raj So inspired after the Goa contact festival and now Improjunction (Pushkar)! Need to create a space for Improvisation and exploration in Bangalore. All you dancers/musicians/actors/artists in Bangalore, lets find a way to come together and not be stuck in our usual patterns. I’m trying to figure out a way for us to meet regularly and have jams and i need your help to make it work. Please share your ideas and thoughts on this and lets start soon.

Karishma Khemlani This is awesome! Hope it works out.

Shibin Das You can start by creating a facebook page Shibin Das All the best wishes bro!

Janhavii Pathak I have an idea which I am already trying to work out in pune…

Alfredo Genovesi for a start dude, don’t have jams or call them jams or reproduce anything that is aesthetically or socially like a jam. from that you will only get the usual stuff which is fun but will definitely not be the ‘way to come together and not be stuck in our usual patterns’. define your vision, say no to people as well as yes, art is a process of elimination and is not all inclusive. call them sessions, rehearsal etc.. big love and hope and respect to yer.. xx

Wendy Jehlen come to my workshop at play practice residency march 14-15! we’ll be working with a series of improvisational exercises called “listening strategies” which exactly aim to take us out of our own patterns (among other things.)

Janhavii Pathak Awesome! let me know how it goes in Pune.

Alfredo Genovesi Thank you sir! Love and respect to you too

Elaangovan Karunakara thats nice buddy…

Abhilash Ningappa use my space

Elaangovan Karunakara Abhilash Ningappa hey where ru machaa ? i’m trying to call u …

Karthik Raj Thanks Abhilash Ningappa

Pradeesh Raj please look up bandra base, in bandra, mumbai. A group of musician came together n create this studio. Now for the last 2 years or some a lot of artist, musicians come together.

Irene Sposetti @ Alfredo Genovesi it is interesting to see your set ideas about “Jam”. In my experience of having attended numerous jams all over, within the contest of festivals or weekly gathering in different cities, being facilitator or participant I can say that Jam is a word that define a wide container for many different kind of meetings based on Improvisation. To discourage someone else in using the name Jam, to avoid to fall in repetitions and to avoid attracting only “a certain kind of public” seem to me quite reductive and prejudice based recommendation. I wish you will have the chance to encounter jams that satisfy you or create your own jam the way you like, sharing with everyone your specific interest and qualities. Hug

Johan Nilsson Great Karthik Raj go on and create spaces for meetings to happen. That is an important work. Especially to meet with different artist from different traditions. And a Jam can be a great creative space were to invite different artist to a space of explorations in improvisation. @ Alfredo Genovesi i wonder what you express with your comment? Did you personally have bad experiences of Contact Improvisation Jams? I am interested in what you experienced….I am traveling a lot, creating Jams and participating in Jams within the realms of Contact Improvisation and Improvisation, with meetings between dancers and other artists. For me a Jam is a both open and structured Space which takes many different forms and does n´t have a set social or aesthetic structure. Maybe a main factor that makes it very creative is the absence of competition and hierarchies or at least a focus on trying to eliminate these forces. That is a great tool within the Jam structure. I am happy to see different artist putting up different kinds of Jams according to their needs and wishes. I am happy if we as artist can support each other and give constructive feed back, that is not based on personal opinions, that can support artistic growth. If I for example heard a really lousy electric guitarist using pedals and effects and I start to tell others to not use electric guitars or effect pedals and especially not go to concerts with such items because it is not good, it is not a fair way of sharing my personal experiences and troubles.

Elaangovan Karunakara u guys have my place

Nitant Nair supraaaa machaaan i m coming there to join my energy also

Atalya Baumer See kartik , you’ve already created a discussion! Seems that there will be a big interest . The best thing is to just do ! wish to be there too ! Love and missing !

Vega Vega Irene Sposetti & Johan Nilsson and others …thanks for thoughtful comments! – WORD…! Karthik Raj keep on inspiration !!! LOVE to you guys – Nitant Nair Lional Lishoy Akrti Itrka and and and… Meet you on the Dance floors… Guru Suraj love for all your effort. Soon i will be moving my ass to banglore. My whole heart is with you matchi. … Go on i will push myself around ….

Alfredo Genovesi Hello Johan & Irene thanks for you lucid response. i hope we can continue these discussions. they are sensitive but perhaps there is a lack of discourse in this area. I will maybe just start talking and some of it will make sense. we seem to be particularly exploring the word jam and its ramifications. i have seen and played at several contact jams. by far in my experience i would say that there is implicitly a social & aesthetic structure, or it appears to default to one. not that i am criticising the actual practice but i do think there is a mismatch it what some of its supposedly aims are and what the results and methodologies are. Was it not the very founder of Contact (Steve Paxton) who over the years tried to extricate the very word improvisation from the practice. it was a study in many things of spine, gravity, body etc but not improvisation per se. depending on what one considers conducive to the art of improvisation i do not see much focus or proper exploration into this area and all the disciplines and approaches and awarenesses and awake-fullness that it requires. i have never experienced any other get together of other disciplines exploring improvisation with looseness. looseness does not for me imply a socially driven ‘over relaxed’ meeting of bodies having fun.

If you really want to know my experience as a musician in the several contact jams i have played in, they often result in a dissatisfaction. i just see couples getting lost in each other, sometimes a feel that i should not be watching this, questions of what am i doing here for i am just being used like a cd or the music is just being consumed, there is no real listening going on. just to note, i am not personally offended that people are not listening per se. i have a (big) ego (what performers honestly dont ?) but the acknowledgment of that in itself helps keep a watchful eye on my self orientated agendas (for as humans we are all full of shit & gold). but the result of lazy ears in these jams means that there is no presence or attention to what is actually going on in times, in space, in music and with others. as a tool for socio-psycho body group therapy,recreation and personal exploration this is all well and good but this situation is not conducive to performance or an investment of energies that result in longevity in relation to improvisations that can maintain any presence over the course of real time execution. especially if the group is a big one, a big jam.

Please do understand that i am not some uptight academic players. my roots in music making was most probably based on classic male teenage fantasies, and my roots were punk (i am 49, shit!!), psychedelic drug orientated experimental rock and ‘jamming’ while high and my ‘training’ only became formalised when i went to Dartington college of arts in my mid 20’s. it literally was only at the end of my studies in 1993 that i realised that i was an improvisor, and this is what i had been doing (with a passion & love) nearly all my musical life anyway. Of course i learnt loads jamming, but then again this was in much smaller groups and in many ways music has a massive history of improvisation related to composition for almost ever.

To be honest I have never come across ‘competition and hierarchies’ and maybe you have an understandable need to counter this. this i respect. however it seems that in search of this one throws out the baby with the bath water. this results in a reluctance to have any (strong) opinion at all, lest one be deemed undemocratic, judgmental or tyrannical or a bit troublesome. The over emphasis on some kind of elimination of the forces of ‘competition and hierarchies’ results in the very fear to express opinion, to make a stand, a statement, to in effect exclude other people with differing views or piss others off and question the very foundation of their thinking & approach. yet how can one ‘give constructive feed back, that is not based on personal opinions’. peoples. for me that lacks commitment and the very reality of what the mind is. here we are expressing very personal opinions, very personally. there is no true objectivity here. perhaps there is an attempted journey towards a more bigger understanding of the picture by sharing perspectives. but to imply that opinion is wrong feels like a kind of messy thinking that cowers people into a social consensus…whether the group is a self perceived fringe liberal radical one or a conservative one, the effect is the same. just because there are many pitfalls of having strong opinion, to avoid it is even worse. The very threat to true open thinking is implicitly repressed and discouraged – the difference between use and abuse i suppose.

My attempt and continuing journey as an artist and encouraging others is a continual messy, difficult, mistake-ridden and wondrous process of opinion, intuition, learning and prejudice. i fuck up, i learn, i fuck up i learn etc. giving constructive support and artistic support often involves touching upon many fears in myself and vulnerabilities in others. i am not there to make others feel good (in the short term) but help in what ever imperfect way i can.

If I came across another ‘really lousy electric guitarist using pedals and effects’ (mmmm he sounds familiar) I would encourage his/her growth by giving my view of what are personal prescriptions and possible approaches to take. i am not saying outright that they should not go to jams (it’s good to encourage many forms of engagement, but inherent in that structure ( and language and often results) there is only so much that can be achieved.they are fun, there is a leaning going on there really is not so much improvisation going on as one hope (certainly when it comes to awake-fullness to every one else in the space and what is going on in sound), and definitely when it comes to the expression of this as a means of working towards the performance then it definitely is limited.

Shit, christ i am going on, apologies !!!!! last breath. one also has to take into the context in which this debate has sprung from. essentially, as much as i understand and profoundly enjoyed the recent festival ( it was in some way the intense i have ever worked in my life) was, albeit indirectly and slightly confusing first steps, the festival was conceived out of a dissatisfaction of the contact scene. i am not sure if you knew this or if this was ever discussed or understood. it was an attempt the impro-junction initiators to find their own new ways to expand ideas of improvisation, and performance. this is why it was very unusual that we ( me & Katie) were in involved because we are not related much to contact.. however you can always dialogue with Katie Duck if you really want to know what the founder (Steve Paxton) thinks of the way it has gone. she speaks of this many times, it it seems to fall upon deaf ears & reluctant hearts. I heard this mentioned amongst some of the artists on camp as well, expressing an unease with the way that their experiences of jams seem to continual default into some kind of social gathering aesthetic, and not about something very specific. Of course it was because of Karthik Raj and my questioning the use of the word ‘jam’ this is why we even started having this dialogue (admittedly it’s a bit top heavy coming from me).

But use of language is very important for it is loaded, does set up expectations, assumptions and it is important to investigate this. Ultimately though mr.Johan Nilsson whatever my opinion is, the point (and sometimes tiresomely and excessively i know for which i apologise) of all this is what helps young artists develop. to find there own ways, to have their own opinions, to know their history and to investigate with rigor and discipline. this doesn’t not eliminate fun and wonder, but i can not think of any committed artist (especially if they are in a ‘teaching’ situation too) that has no opinion or defined (or continually being re-defined) perspective. if one sees this as ‘competitive’ or ‘hierarchical’ then i am afraid i differ in that view. Just so you know Johan, i am not at all doubting your intentions or motives, i see you not as the devil or competition. In my experience ‘jams’ result in social gatherings that are investigative (as well as assuaging tensions) but never set up conditions that really home in on the multitude of complexities that arise in the practice towards improvisation (as a means of composition) & performance. in my, maybe incorrect opinion, i think Karthik was seeking this in his endeavours to setting up an explorative situation. hence because of the loaded word ‘jam’ which for me implies approaches, expectations, and potential results that may not be what he is after.. hence my exhortation that he should use a different word, be it sessions, rehearsals, studies etc etc. thanks Johan & Irena. Katie Duck Good initiative but rather than meet to loose ones self in a jam format I suggest you meet to work talk and work some more. Call it sessions.

Abhilash Ningappa Yesterday we had a nice improvisation meeting, some completely new to improvisation. all young artists willing to learn and explore. karthik facilitated brilliantly. what we need in bangalore is not people coming together and have fun but learning from eachother, exchange information, share ideas. we need thinkers. there are places to learn dance and become super dancers but we need atmosphere which allow us to think, discuss. and this kind of session is so much necessary.at the moment. I wish to have more sessions like this

Guru Suraj Abhilash Ningappa : May you’r wish come true .

Lional Lishoy Wow!!!what else can I say?c u all soon in Bangalore.

Emmanuelle Macripo-Pook yeahhh when? where? sounds good

Elaangovan Karunakara Abhilash Ningappa AS WE DECIDED I ALREADY MADE SOME PLANS TO DO THESE ACTIVITY’S ONCE IN A MONTH AT PRESENT… IN MY STUDIO…LETS MEET UP BEFORE U LEAVE ND PLAN IT UP IN MORE DETAIL @ Karthik Raj IT WAS GOOD INITIATIVE… AND U DID VERY GOOD SESSION…ALL THE NEW COMERS JUST LOVED IT… HOPE TO SEE U GUYS SOON…KEEP IN TOUCH

Katie Duck Indeed Abhilash! That is exactly what is needed. It is difficult to distinguish work from play because work can be play play play. But without the word work play is childish behavior which, once we realise we are adults, accomplishes very little toward toward how the work can develop. Maybe a weird, but I find it fun when work is taken seriously and embarrassing when it is not.

Emmanuelle Macripo-Pook woaw i enjoy reading ALL your words friends is there any talking class ???

Athos Germano nice ones!!!!!!

Johan Nilsson Great comment Alfredo Genovesi. I need to read it Twice, at least…

Guru Suraj Wow its getting a great start. Wishes karthik The comments are getting improvised amazingly .

Erica Kaufman Just returned to US from India…India without internet…but with CI friends who told me about this thread and asked me to weigh in. I am glad to see these lively words!! Firstly I’d like to say that I AM THRILLED to feel Karthik’s drive to initiate more. It is especially GREAT that it is self initiated. CI in India will evolve in unique ways. Understanding the principles that frames CI is crucial…once this is understood, the work/dance/investigation can begin. I find the most interesting way for CI to continue is with a clear frame to hold the focused principles of the work…while keeping center of the frame open. Too much advise on how to proceed can be counterproductive…especially in this case…before anything has occurred. A Jam does not implicitly imply an undisciplined social casual gathering. Jams often are a mixture of professionals and recreational-ists BUT can also have focused scores (Nancy’s Underscore, music, trios, etc)…Jams can also be with specific populations (not always an open door). At it’s most basic, a CI Jam is a space & time held as a container for CI to occur. BOOM. To me the culture of Jam is evolving but is still quite important. It is a place without a teacher…a place to collide & crash my assumptions & to investigate spontaneous curiosities, skills, and artistic/physical/energetic interests. It is a way of entering the unknown…from which performance ideas (or not) can erupt. Not all Jams have music. When a Jam has music, I reserve my right to interact with it or not interact with it in any way I professionally choose. Within a Jam setting, I reserve my right to expand or contract my attention to the immediacy of my CI ‘dance’ or to the whole space of energy. Classes, seminars, workshops, etc are great but I say LONG LIVE THE CI JAM. Hugs from Here to There Erica

Aditya Sasidharan extremely interesting read…but all i can say is i am confused…the language is too strong for me i guess….all i can say is whether i work or i play whether i jam or i have sessions, rehearsals, etc. i am learning every time…freedom & restriction both are needed to explore yourself & to understand your limitations or boundaries & i prefer co existing in both because it reminds me of how dependent both are on each other…..opinions can be highly varied and thats y debates happen which is necessary for someone who is looking for an answer, to be specific a RIGHT answer (which doesn’t exist) or to just have an opinion….i certainly am not looking for an answer just going with the flow….whatever makes me happy i follow that without being bothered about the consequences or reactions….so at the end of the day I choose to either work, play, jam ,rehearse etc or to do nothing because the opinions can be in millions but the choice is mine.

Johan Nilsson Great nice balanced honest pragmatic comment Aditya Sasidharan. I hear you and appreciate your thoughts. Beyond opinions and with love of dance!!!

Aditya Sasidharan Johan Nilsson missing u….come soon if possible to bombay….

Katie Duck Wow. Thank you Alfredo for giving so much. At the festival you gave and gave and gave. Here again you give and give and give. Why is the CI community so concerned about spreading the CI philosophy in India. Has this work not already spanned the globe providing international opportunity for CI teachers and leaders. So many of those teachers have used CI as a spring board to initiate their own approach for making work or setting up creative situations. Is this CI Code now becoming a drawn out movement that could be best transformed by the cultures and teachers who are young vibrant and living in a more contemporary world than the CI codification methods? Let it go. Let the india culture of dancers find their own direction. Let them lead. I have learnt so much from the students who came all the way to adam to study with Alfredo and I. I learnt so much in Mumbai after the festival teaching in a studio with only dancers from India. I do not dance the same because of this experience in india. The use of an imagined story the use of eye and finger coordination. The strong connection to music sound and ear generally. India if given the opportunity is going to create a way for dance to speak to a public unlike any other culture. My complaint with the CI movement at this time is how it has over time become cultists and opportunist for those using the word improvisation as a codified activity. If anyone wishes to join together in a social arena to have a fun time moving about to music fine. But do not confuse the rigor involved with the practices of dance by codification and cultists safety nets. I understood that having to deal with codified systems in traditional or classical studies in art is daunting. Class gender sexual preference body aesthetic body ethics all need to be placed in question by the the artists. Avoidance is the enemy. You cannot ask the question if you do not face the work. I met highly disciplined creative dancers in India who if given a open platform that is not burdened with codified belief systems make extraordinary work. CI has involved into a codified belief system. Let it go.

Nayana Bhat @Aditya Sasidharan: it is indeed valuable to be able to learn from every kind of situation. And as one goes on learning, one hits several points where the questions one asks become more and more specific. It is not about finding the right answer, really. The question one asks points at the direction one is taking. It is the not the word “Jam” that is taboo-ish. It is really what “jams” have produced and implied in the recent times. I have been in “jams” that were wonderfully productive, and yet was entirely forgotten after that session. And I have worked with Katie Duck, where the sessions are incredibly specific and focused, therefore highly revealing (4 years later, I am still learning things from what I did then!) In the last years, I have found an undeniable need to focus on specific questions. Because these questions give a reason to continue the research, they add value to what is being said through the dance. I see that if I want to grow, I must engage in the dance with sincere questions, without which, the jams will only be momentary sensual engagement, mighty similar to consuming, without any further leads. One can never consume enough. But for a sustained, continued engagement it is necessary to be clear on the questions.

Alfredo Genovesi i recently received this letter (regarding ALL of the above) from an Indian dancer:

Nayana Bhat Very interesting writings on improvisation and the abuse of the term “jams”. I write to you in private because it felt private. I completely agree with you in what you have expressed. Mainly because after 2010 SUmmer Impro workshop with you and Katie, I was back in India, trying to figure out all the new impulses I had got, and make sense of it in my life. And what I found the hardest is finding a group, a space, a bunch of people that were as inquisitive and sincerely committed to exploring impro as I wished to be. It was/is incredible how abused and disrespected improvisation is, somehow.. I have heard remarks like ” yaa.. but you know, improvisation is boring and is for lazy people who don’t have technique!” from professional dancers in the scene! At that point it struck me and discouraged me in a serious way, for I was not matured enough to realise that I am on my own here and that I have the responsibility of exploring it further if I really believed in exploration as such. I thank heavens for I received a lot of emotional support to really do this from people who had nothing to do with dance! Now, 4 years later, and hours and hours of exploration on my own, and sometimes through the impro facilitation I was doing for non-dancer adults, I really see the need for this clear focus in sessions and not make a jam.. I see the need for making a choice as to what I want to achieve through all the moving around I do while improvising.. I feel the clear need to identify the process of choice-making as well as become aware of the factors that i choose to let influence my choice-making.. I finally understand, slowly and at least basically, what Katie meant in those workshops..I agree with you because I feel strongly about it, lot of those jams rather seem to me to be indulgent and focused not really on art per se but some kind of personal need for relaxation or something like that.. In that sense I really feel that in the current Indian scene, Improvisation doesn’t really get the respect it commands, which is a shame because there is so much value in it. But I also see a fear pattern among practicing Indian artistes – the fear of losing what they falsely recognise as tradition, which results in them being more hung up on strange ideas of what is more worthy, technique or exploration? And I agree on your invitation that we need more discourse in this subject. I was immensely glad that you and Katie were in India this year, although I must admit, I was/am very skeptical about the Impro-junction festival itself. There is one other contact festival in Goa, and this one in Pushkar, both places renowned and associated to all the dope and the “freedom” and parties and the white people (not being racist here, really) .. Somehow all the contact becomes just some kind of sensual, erotic indulgence. I am not sure how to feel positively about them. So Magpie participating in one of those festivals made me feel like maybe that trend is changing.. I do hope it is changing. If not anything, now there is a direct influence you both hold on the practicing artistes in India (at least some of them) and that can already bring new waves in the scene. I am glad! glad glad glad! So that is mainly it, I guess. Just wanted to share my thoughts and feelings about this, and also somehow realise for myself how many times I have died and reborn since the summer of 2010. It makes me happy and hopeful in many ways, reassures me that as long as I willing to risk myself, I shall evolve. i want that really.”

Johan Nilsson I maybe have to simplify something in these nice debate. A “Jam” is a workspace were Contact Improvisation can take place. It gets its focus and limitations from the definitions that are set by the people that initiates each and every session. As a format Contact Improvisation is a Opens Source practice that develops as practitioners try out things, develop their skills and get inspired by other techniques and practices. (It is not controlled by the initiators in the early 70´s and it does’´t matter what they think about it now)

Johan Nilsson Please don´t make a definitions of the form (CI and Jams) out of personal experiences. They are your personal experiences within the Open Format of the Form. Take own responsibility of them. I know it can be confusing with a form that takes from many sources and has so open limits. It can take time to understand who we are as dancers, practitioners and persons within this practices. That is ok. It can take time to make up ones own opinion and understanding of what is included in CI and in Jams and what is our personal limits. What is ok for us and not. And still these are our personal limits. Take your time. Improvise. Work. Play, Understand. Be confused. Harvest. And do over again. But Please don´t put down a form that carries a lot of beauty, that are developing and changing, and that has a great inclusiveness as its base.

Alfredo Genovesi Katie Duck’s response to the letter i received: Lovely. Makes you feel all the hard work low pay is priced by how smart the students we collaborate with are. Oh the times they are a changing. I vote to completely drop codes like CI.. It is no different than using codes from history of the arts like cubist or futurist or the new romantics. I will maintain my aged loyalty punk because that is how old I am. Arguments could persuade me like if I were truly a punk I would be dead by now. If you really lived through the 60,s you don’t remember it. I do remember because I was not a hippie and the music was changing things far more resilient like than the drugs. These codes: BMC / Actual movement / Authentic movement / Instant composition / CI are all a result of 80,s marketing aims. All these titles were formed with good intentions but….within that period of the 80’s….these titles can be read a a need for self control Ness. A a need to be believed and belong to something. Fuck that. Be an artist. Tittle your work not your methodologies not your sells pitch. Magpie crime and casualty are titles that are about my work as an artist. It is not a marketing aim. It is a way to title where I am as an artist right now but not necessarily tomorrow. The word improvisation is not a title. It belongs to  actions in real time. It cannot belong to anyone  situation. It is a verb not a noun.

Johan Nilsson Katie Duck saying “Why is the CI community so concerned about spreading the CI philosophy in India” I say don´t worry. We are not on a path of taking over the nation of India or the world. If CI spreads it due to the cause that people all over find something interesting in the practice. If they would not it would not spread. If CI is practiced also here, in India, it is due to that there are people here that finds the practice of CI important and they do what they Love. And eventually others join. Also dancers trained abroad have explored the form and would love to do more. Don´t use your power as a teacher of putting down another practice.

Katie Duck I can form an opinion as to what I have observed and I can decide that those who have initiated the form are central. Dues are dues. Those who imitate art forms have earned that possibility. If it is so open a form and if it is a form translated by the one who leads then why use the codes? Why continue to use codes that are in fact originated by the artists who initiated the form? If it is evolving why use codes that are what it was rather than what it is now? Artists invent. Invent. CI jams all misunderstood codes because these codes do represent something that happened in the 60’s in new York by specific artists who indeed deserve the accreditation owed to them. If it has become something different than call it something different. Or maybe it is not so different in which case I argue that the work is stuck in a loop and that is of no value to young artists.

Johan Nilsson I agree with your words above, for me Contact Improvisation is as free and independent “It cannot belong to any situation where you need to belong or believe” Good said. It would be more neutral if CI was included. Thank you…

Johan Nilsson please Katie Duck don’t use your personal opinions to put down a form that takes many shapes. You can talk about your own personal bad experiences but to encourage others not to try or not use a name downs´t sound good to me. As if I would spread bad rumours about and artist/teacher because that one did or said something I don’t like or resonate with. I wouldn’t do that. I would talk about my personal experience and have others try out for themselves. Not me deciding what is good for them.

Nayana Bhat Somehow, strangely and interestingly, this debate is becoming about CI, whereas, it started off being about Improvisation and the word “jam”. As a matter of fact, Improvisation and Contact Impro have very different agendas and philosophies, although CI might have stemmed off from Improvisation practices itself. It is very necessary to not confuse the two and apply one debate to the other.. Secondly, taking responsibility for our own personal experiences is what also allows us to state clearly and explicitly where we stand in our art. I would not write it off as a “personal experience” because, what I personally believe in is what is going to be the grounds of my artistic stand.

Katie Duck I will use my position as a teacher in any situation where I feel articulate debate is supportive the students direction in their pursuit of being an artist. Power is your interpretation of how you feel about my responses to your text. it is certainly not my aim or objective. I do not think that CI or jams are in any way supportive for a young artists in how they pursue their work in a 2014 perspective. I understand that CI as a movement spread like locus internationally in the hands of those who have not placed their work in the professional arts practices. Those who initiated CI in new York had professional careers Those were a group of artists who took the initiative to construct a form of dance in articulate debate with their backgrounds in modern dance and ballet. That is no longer the case in the way CI is now in the hands of teachers who for the most part have started and are now continuing a career in dance. There lay the debate. This CI Acton has diminished into a life style choice. Not a professional choice. If you are a professional artist the life style is defined by the fact of being an artist. No. I am not open. To fool young artists into believing that the profession is that open is tragic. No The profession is not that open. You make choices You choose to be a life style coach that is fine and that is what comes out of this diminished version CI. So diminished  from what it actually was I feel you should find another tittle. No. Improvisation is not open. It is the most rigorous approach an artist can take. The result of this action is invention.

Johan Nilsson No one is fooled into anything. Please take that back

Johan Nilsson Yes also non-traditionally trained people do CI, and there is no problem with that.

Johan Nilsson Maybe you have to broaden the concept of professional to a bigger sphere than the one you are in.

Johan Nilsson CI is for professional

Johan Nilsson Ci is for non professional

Johan Nilsson Yes Nayana Bhat to clarify for yourself what is the grounds of your artistic stand is good but to encourage other not to do something due to these personal opinions is very different.

Johan Nilsson Nayana Bhat we started talking about also CI since the use of the word JAM in this conversation touched the practice of CI in general.

Nayana Bhat There is very little control one can exert on what the other can do with her/his personal opinions.. People can speak and express, thank god for that.

Max Lundqvist Just started a once a week jam in Stockholm. Happy to have inspiration from other jams, and some “frame boarders” to start from. At any time I am ready to explore into something else – whenever the need is there. Maybe then I will call it Movingspaceintononeexistingbodymovement. But for now, this is just practice. Practice, struggle and joy. A Jam

Erica Kaufman ANYWAY…hope the Jam/Session/etc goes well…

Katie Duck Yes. CI is for non professionals therefore anyone aspiring to be a professional need not waist their time and funds in the CI Jams. No I will not broaden my definition of what professional means. The profession defines what it is within the context of our social situation. In 2014 we are in a very conservative period for all aspects of society the arts included,. The professional arts need disciplined, dedicated, clear and loud voices from young aspiring artists. That is what we need today in order for the arts to widen. It is certainly of no value for me to have a delusional opinion as to what the profession means. It knows what it means and if you are in it you feel what it means and you go head down int he work. Those who initiated CI, those individual artists, lived in a very different time than we do today sand they were professional artists living in a very different way of being a professional. They represented themselves, They invented CI and then went on to represent their own artistic professional careers. I do not represent an art movement. I represent my work, my opinion about the work. I do not need to apologise or feel that i am needing to defend a group of people. CI has become a cult. If you are not an individual who can speak your own mind without referring to this “movement” CI than you are a cult. Ohoooo – Charles Manson was cult in the 60’s. I remember growing up and discovering hippie cults…..

Aditya Sasidharan Nayana Bhat would like to quote one of your points ” I have been in “jams” that were wonderfully productive, and yet was entirely forgotten after that session. And I have worked with Katie Duck, where the sessions are incredibly specific and focused, therefore highly revealing (4 years later, I am still learning things from what I did then!) ” ……i have faced exactly the same strong feeling in both the cases. Sometimes CI is highly revealing and there are times its nothing but pleasure and fun AND there are times when its the same case with improvisation. So at the end of the day its your INTENTION and your state of mind that matters when you doing something. It doesn’t matter if people have restrictions and limitations in a practice or if the practice is extremely open or free its up to the individual to choose whether he wishes to follow anything or nothing at all for his own personal understanding of what the individual is looking for with regards to grow as a dancer or just find solace in it. There are times when in restricted scenarios that you end up choosing freedom as your way out because its just human to do so and thats what happened with me when i got introduced to Goa contact festival in the year 2013. Showed me completely a different approach to what ii had been doing up till then AND then of course there are times when you have a lot of freedom, so when restriction and limitations are implied you tend to treasure it because it shows you certain disciplined way of following things which is the very same thing happened this year at pushkar improjunction during Katie Duck’s intensives where before that for a year it was all free and suddenly restrictions and limitations were added to it which i absolutely treasured because it made me realise the need for restrictions to enjoy the freedom and how both the things go absolutely hand in hand. Thats when i realised that i need to be open to everything even restrictions and limitations because it gives you a different dimension to your art and creativity. Both are obviously completely different forms Contact Improvisation and improvisation but if we take pieces from both the ends and mix match it i think it works even better for both. Of course just my opinion, another quote “In the last years, I have found an undeniable need to focus on specific questions. Because these questions give a reason to continue the research, they add value to what is being said through the dance. I see that if I want to grow, I must engage in the dance with sincere questions, without which, the jams will only be momentary sensual engagement, mighty similar to consuming, without any further leads. One can never consume enough. But for a sustained, continued engagement it is necessary to be clear on the questions.”……again here its just the approach to the entire thing. Your approach is by focusing your attention to the questions in order to continue your research because you believe thats how it adds value to your work whereas in my case i focus my attention on the research and let the questions come up on its own because in this way then i dont limit my research to the questions i have in my mind. Hence giving me a broader prospect of understanding of what my research is leading to and where do i want it to lead or not lead or maybe continue exploring the unknown. The questions that arise during the research is good for contemplation and understanding in detail about your research and these are bound to happen but i do not let the answers effect me directly. Let me be absolutely clear i am not saying by any means your approach is wrong and mine is right. Its an approach and an artist way of researching in different ways, so there cannot be any right and wrong. What i am trying to imply here with all this is that its the intention and your state of mind that you approach any given situation or circumstance that leads to the answer that you looking for so you can be in CI Jam and still find the result highly revealing if your intention and approach is in that way but different individuals have different likings so its natural that few people will lean to the disciplined organised way of living life and then few who will choose the freedom and then the other few who are either confused or choose both. so whatever choice you make is yours and you are free to use it and voice it as well. and yes i absolutely support your fact that no one can control anyones thought and opinions and if they wish to be strong about it and voice it you surely cant do anything about it and i don’t think its wrong either to voice your opinions even though it may put off individuals from following something. As an individual you should have your own thought process and beliefs and not let any opinions or judgments or assumptions or beliefs by anyone make you lead your life. Use your own personal experience and then follow your desire and need. I apply it to both my personal and professional life.

Aditya Sasidharan Katie Duck so would you consider CI as an art form for the professionals if the art gets disciplined, dedicated, clear and loud voices from young aspiring artists? i am fresh and new to these art forms both improvisation and CI with very little experience so am interested in knowing the viewpoints of different people because it fascinates me to a certain extent of how varied the opinions can be. let me be clear i am not trying to get a clarity of what is right or wrong but just trying to understand what different viewpoints clearly mean.

Katie Duck Contact dance placed as part of your physical training (partnering) and taught with that as the objective by an accomplished teacher is a wonderful contribution to your development toward being a professional dance artist. I can name perhaps five teachers who can do this (but there are many more). Those teachers do not use jam or improvisation as a means to further and develop this technical support. They have developed tasks and have lecture material based in somatic education. Some of these teachers are performance artist. They use improvisation for how they compose their performances but that study is separate from their body training. Not all of these teachers perform. CI is an area if body work founded in new York in the late 60’s and developed further by the students of these founders in the 70’s. The formation of CI festivals jams and retreats began to appear in the early 80’s by an even further generation of students not all of whom were involved in the profession of dance. These activities are not reflective of the original form as body work but rather a kind of diminished version that emphasizes a mythical version of CI using life style and improvisation as life style. The door to CI became very wide by the mid 80’s with an anyone can join policy and therefore not a professional approach. There is a big difference. The first model I set here is now more rare and has not been internationally spread. The second version has gone global. People gather and move about together within a no critical format. CI on a professional level is done in a studio format needs to be done by a truly fine teacher and allows for a dancer performer to add dimension to their training. I can advice teachers you could then research. Begin with Steve Paxton. He started the CI work while he was a company dancer with Merce Cunningham. Merce Cunningham collaborated with composer John cage. Both of these artists changed the direction of music and dance. Steve came from an extraordinary background and he created an extraordinary movement research when he initiated CI. It is sad but inevitable that the quality of the work diminishes once the doors are opened so wide that there is no longer a critical language or edge for the student to use.

Aditya Sasidharan i think i got your point now ….thank you for taking the pain of explaining me the details

Irene Sposetti Guys thank you so much for sharing reflecting and contemplating so much!…I wish we can meet on dance floors in the Practice and keep sharing intentions, directions, questions, needs and inspirations. I wish we can all find joy satisfaction and accomplishment in our human and artistic path. I wish one day we can meet without need of competing or battling to affirm our identity and our needs, at all levels.I trust that respect and collaboration is the way of the future, empathy inclusiveness integration and care, love equality and authenticity.that’s what I wish to embody in my life, in my art in my work with my colleagues and human fellows. I am deeply thankful for my last 7 years spent in India, working sincerely with a lot of passion creating teaching promoting being Dance.I received a lot of respect beauty and richness from indian and foreigners professionals and no professionals dancers all over the country. I met so much presence wakefulness sincerity curiosity gratitude and love of dance in this country. I experienced a lot of growth within and without. I don’t have any more need of defining words and concepts, I will leave here this conversation wishing that we can all fulfil our artistic paths with all our differences.thank you all! *

Katie Duck It is a pity that you define articulate debate as competition. With an eye squarely on the work those feelings do not take place. The utopian dancer you wish for leads you toward a passive aggressive dialogue in these debates. Also a pity. These are times to be direct. These are times that need debate. I understand your retreat back toward the comfort zones of jams and CI retreats. I strongly enforce on my side of debate that the intricate body work initiated by the very fine individual artists in the late 60’s will centralise what we mean when we say “CI.” The movement toward group hug, Jams and retreats, the mis understanding of how terms like improvisation are being used within the CI circle is not healthy for the work. Improvisation is a part of how composition is being revolutionised in this time. The movement in CI lead by the third fourth and fifth generation has made it difficult for how the quality of the work that Contact dance actually offers cam be internationally understood and shared. Bubbles breaking. Pop pop pop.

Sanjukta Wagh way to go Karthik Raj…. this is one of my most engaged times spent reading a debate on art on facebook. fabulous! My opinion: Indian performing arts are deep and vast and they have a lot to offer India and the world. If Katy wasn’t coming to Improjunction I would not have either.and she left me with great insights. That said, it is sad that Improvisation festivals in India do not have any reference to our contexts…. and are so random. one of the most evolved systems of improvisation i have found is completely ignored or rather not even in the acknowledged, the raga and tala system of music and dance , where the structure leads to immense freedom. I am not a purist and saying that this is the ultimate system but it needs to acknowledged when one speaks of Improvisation in India. One can’t have just a one sided point of view… whether it is CI or Katy Duck. we need to wake up to our own culture, our contexts, what is the kind of work we want to make. What is our relationship to our myths, our music [ right from classical to folk to Bollywood] I am shocked that that 3 foreigners can happily organise a completely de-contextualised festival for foreign and Indian performers in Pushkar and apparently run into a loss after charging as much as they did. its insane, culturally and politically speaking. Yes, it is about sharing not dictating a world view. I found the attitude on the organisers part a bit insensitive. As curators and practitioners, Abhilash Ningappa and Karthik, we need to question who we invite, which points of view we endorse and why? for me contemporary dance training, ideology and CI has been a vehicle to really open up and lose inhibitions but the form I offer is Kathak. there are such straitjacketed ideas of what Kathak is that it is shunned by “contemporary” Indian dancers My language is Kathak which the purist kathak dancers ironically call “contemporary” but so be it. we have to learn to forge ahead in our own territory and stop being dictated to. to more exchanges across our languages… and we are blessed to have so many… lets be alive to them and not turn away embarrassed when we run into Shiva at coffee shops.

Nayana Bhat Sanjukta Wagh it was a pleasure to read your response, because indeed that is really the biggest need of the moment. to make all the “contemporary works” relevant to our roots. The main reason for this lack of relevance with foreign practitioners in India is simply that Indian artists are still in the process of exploring how to find a meaningful and sustainable way of making our tradition more relevant our lives as of now which are rapidly changing and becoming something really different than what one would have ever foreseen. It takes a lot of endurance to live through these ages and still be grounded, and yet grow. It is interesting that you speak of your Kathak background. I come from Bharatanatyam background, and worked with contemporary artistes that tried to somehow transpose this tradition into contemporary frameworks. A lot of these transpositions were simply borrowing the relics and symbols of the classical form and placing them in a contemporary context. As an experiment this has immense value in producing very interesting results. But in my opinion this needs to go further and deeper into reflecting upon how do we view our classical arts? Are they a bunch of codes and symbols? Are they rhythms and geometry? Or the essential spirituality? How to put all these different perfect elements together and yet explore a refreshingly new direction for the art? How to capture the very essence of spirituality into this contemporary framework that we stand on, where religions, culture, language and codes are merging into one another. It is a very curious curious world of possibilities. And improvisation with these tools and elements bring extremely curious results, each differing on bodies that are culturally Indian, and culturally non-Indian. I am incredibly pleased to hear my contemporary Indian artistes speak with such rigour and intelligence. It has been long overdue, and it is direly needed.

Sanjukta Wagh thank you Nayana Bhat. I completely agree. the time has come to present one’s views and not be apologetic about it. when a Eurocentric world view is accepted as the norm, unquestioningly not just in the west but in our own contexts one disregards and overrides not just a sensibility but many rooted and culture specific ways of seeing art and inhabiting the body. I am work with young students and treating kathak as a living language of expression in my pedagogical approach. Its a joy to watch them express themselves in the form.My interdisciplinary initiative is called beej. exploring process, pedagogy and performance. look forward to more conversations.

Katie Duck I love these fresh clear strong voices coming from dancers in India…..yes!

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