Dance makes special1 everyday movement; music makes special everyday sound. These arts are amplifications of the everyday
non-verbal communication that is intrinsic to human development. The dance form that most captures original human engagement with the world is improvisation.
Improvisation is the dance form that I teach with people of all ages.
Infants thrive best in interactions with loved ones that are playful and improvisational: “Studies of the temporal aspects of expression in the communication of young infants suggest that the optimal forms of timing and rhythm are not so much periodic as improvisational” ~Colwyn Trevarthen2
Improvisation allows for the invitation of the unknown into the exploration of life. It allows for learning something new—discovering. Improvisation includes the known and the unpredictable. It requires being present in the now and flowing in expressive spontaneity.
Dancing with others in interactive improvisation is a non-verbal dialogue based in attunements, clashings, shapes, gestures, feelings, forces, timings, spacial patterns, themes, and more. This process engages the communicative qualities of sensory-feeling-imaginative correspondences inherent in our psycho-biological reality. That is, physical gesture has inherent emotional-psychological meaning.
It is through this artistic process that we discover and learn about ourselves, relationships, and world—that is, art for life sake.
Our creativity flows out of our unconscious—an unknown giving birth to knowing as our consciousness listens. Our conscious mind can then discover the form or pattern that emerges from the unfolding of the creative process. This insight into the pattern of the process can then further open and expand the avenues of unconscious expression.
~Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, Body-Mind Centering
1“Making Special” is a phrase by Ellen Dissanayake, scholar in the anthropological study of art and culture.
2Colwyn Trevarthen is a child psychologist and psycho-biologist.
Photo Credits: Whitney Browne; Barbara Cole Kirk, Respectively