Taking a cue from a friend, well actually many friends, I decided to take Introduction to Improvisation this semester. The class is instructed by Visiting Professor of Dance Shura Baryshnikov from Brown University and, so far, it has been one of the most challenging dance classes I’ve taken in my time at Conn. It may well be the hardest because it has pushed me to think about my relationship with touch, but also the Earth.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:25-11:40 a.m., nine other students and I gather with Shura to improvise. Our class is a balancing act of learning to support each other both physically and emotionally. My emotions may not be visible, but they are traced back to my youth. I was the kid in the sandbox who felt uncomfortable to speak and interact with those around me. In my improvisation class, we try to dance with everyone around us because this form is about contact and building off of one another. In a sense, it’s an education course disguised as a dance.
For a recent assignment, Shura challenged us to create three minutes of pure solo movement that would explore everything we had learned in class so far. The assignment was fun and allowed me to use improvisation to create my own choreography. My friend Mary, who was filming the assignment, didn’t bother telling me that she had begun recording, which really pushed me to think about my movement across the floor. I felt connected with everything in those three minutes of silence, as all was still and very much in that moment.