Interview date: June 2017
Olya Glotka, a self-made filmmaker based in Toronto, is transforming the contact dance improvisation community she is a part of. Contact dance improvisation is a social dance involving touch, in which momentum between two or more people inspires dance movements. Like martial arts, it uses a rolling point of contact and trains the ability to sense one’s partner’s movements. There are no set gender roles which enables a fluid exchange of lead and follow. With limited resources, Olya decided to embark on a self-training program to become a filmmaker. Her goal was to make one-hundred dance films. Currently, she has just finished her fifty-eighth film, and has already started to win awards. Her films showcase a range of people from beginners to professional dancers. In several of her films, Olya has chosen to showcase dancers using wheelchairs. When watching her films, one starts to see the beauty that she sees in all people. You start to see that dance is for everyone and can be done everywhere.
Kathleen Rea, director of the Contact Dance International Film Festival, recently sat down with Olya to find out what drives her as a filmmaker.
KR: When did you first fall in love with contact dance improvisation?
OG: I was at my first contact dance improvisation workshop and we were doing an exercise in which one person is lying on the ground and the other person practices balancing their weight on their partner. As I felt the compression from my partner’s weight on my back, I suddenly realized that I had a body. I know that might sound strange. Analytically I knew I had a body, but this was the first time I understood from the inside out that my body existed. This was such a new feeling for me because I was a sickly child growing up. There was so much fighting, anger and negativity around me and I think my body reacted by being in pain. I was in and out of the hospital. Being sick became my identity. But in that first contact dance workshop, I started to see myself in a new way… one in which my body was strong and was something I could depend on. I started to see my body as a source of creativity. These realizations changed everything that came next.
KR: What else is it about contact dance that is healing for you?
OG: For me something fundamental changed inside me when I, this “tiny, little, pretty girl” learned to pick up a full-grown man and carry him across the room! You see, for me contact dance is my life’s lab. It is a playground where I can try out things or ways of being that I am scared to do in “real” life. Dance improvisation helps me face my demons and in so doing learn to face myself, to fall in love with all that is in me.
KR: I understand. I use contact dance in that way too. So, when did you become interested in dance film?
OG: Four years after my first encounter with contact dance improvisation I went to Allen Kaeja’s dance film workshop. That experience answered a question for me: “why can’t I stick with anything?”. You see, as a kid, I would do all kinds of arts and crafts. I went to art school, studied piano, guitar, creative writing, songwriting, did crafts, sewed my own clothes and went to theatre school. I was good at everything I tried yet I never ever stuck with it. I would quit after a year or two and I always felt like a failure. When I made my first little dance film in Allen’s workshop, I had this “Aha!” moment. The skies opened, I heard the angels sing and my life finally made sense. All the art forms I had ever loved were encapsulated and merged into one – filmmaking.
KR: You did your first contact dance workshop just before the 2015 Contact Dance International Film Festival. Did that festival influence you?
OG: Oh yes. I was so inspired by the films I saw I couldn’t sleep for two days. When I took Allen’s film workshop I knew I wanted to make dance films, but I didn’t know if there was a place for them. Then I went to the Festival and I saw there would be a place for my work. I knew the next Festival was in 2017, so I decided to get busy.
KR: How did you go about pursuing this new-found art form? Did you enroll in a film school?
OG: No. I didn’t have the resources that would allow me to get any long-term professional training. So I decided to do it myself. I set a goal of making one hundred dance films.
KR: Kind of like Malcolm Gladwell’s idea that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master at something. How many hours have you logged so far?
OG: I’ve filmed about seventy dance film projects and completed fifty-eight of them. So I only have forty-two films left to reach my goal.
KR: From your first dance film to your fifty-eighth what has been your progression?
OG: It is very entertaining to look back at my first films and see the quality of them. Very basic. Very boring. Very self-centered. I think I am now better at engaging the viewer. I understand that I need to edit in service of the film instead of in service of myself. This has helped me tighten up the pacing of my films. I have learned the technical aspects of the craft and this has improved image quality. I have cultivated my voice and artistic vision and I think it is now more direct, meaningful and thought-provoking. When dancers and artists ask me for advice about how to “turn into a filmmaker”, the only thing I can say is, “go make 100 films”.
KR: Besides making one hundred films, what else was involved in this progression. How did you teach yourself all the different aspects of filmmaking and find your creative voice?
OG: For a year, I woke up every Monday two hours earlier then I needed to, and participated in free online courses on all aspects of filmmaking. First, I learned editing, then production, then camera movement and so on. I had four part-time jobs at the time and I didn’t even own a camera and somehow, I managed to work on over sixty film projects that first year. I would study in the morning and then go to my nine-to-five retail job where I’d listen to hours and hours of film-related podcasts. My evening job was babysitting and when the kid would fall asleep, I’d open my laptop and edit, edit and edit. Then I’d run home to sleep. I would repeat the whole cycle again the next day for the rest of the work week. Then I had the whole weekend to shoot! I had lots of friends in the contact dance improvisation community who were eager to dance and help. Because I was making so many films, I was able to explore the medium and quickly get results by trying different things and learning lessons from my mistakes.
KR: That’s intense.
OG: Whether watching dance films or editing my own work, when something would catch my eye I would always ask myself the same questions: “why do I like this?” or, “why do I not like that?” I would look at it over and over, trying to figure it out and I would either try to recreate the effect later or try to avoid it if I didn’t like the effect. I was in a loop of learn, try, analyze and then repeat. I fed back into the loop everything I learned and figured-out, as well as feedback from others. I was exhausted by the pace but also happy.
KR: I know that you were born and raised in Ukraine. Can you tell us the story of how you came to Canada?
OG: I never planned to move to Canada. In fact, I always dreamed to dedicate my life and art to my home country. I grew up in Ukraine, and when I was eighteen I left so I could learn life by traveling the world; just myself and a few dollars in my pockets. During my travels, I fell in love with a Canadian and after several trials of getting my partner adapted to the life in Ukraine, we gave up and ended up here in Canada. I really had planned to live my life in Ukraine. I had always imagined that I would be able to help my troubled country. To be one of the young people fighting for human rights. I think this fight for human rights still lives in me. All my dance films are a celebration of human rights. A celebration of people.
KR: How else does being Ukrainian influence your work?
OG: I think Ukrainian people have this ability to work hard for the things they want in life because that is the way of life there. Also, growing up in Ukraine I learned the value of family and community. When things are tough these two aspects of life are the only solid ground that enables survival. After I came to Canada the relationship that brought me here ended. I was alone in a new country. I had not been dancing because my ex was not comfortable with contact dance improvisation. Leaving the relationship meant I was free once again to pursue dance. I came to a Toronto contact dance jam and met my new “family” that would provide me with solid ground. Knowing how vital this was for me strengthened my drive to build community through dance. I started a new Contact Dance Jam in the east end of town for this reason as well as to get more dancing in.
KR: Does your queer identity influence your work?
OG: It makes me question a lot! It inspires me to create something different that will challenge the norm of, if there is a man and a woman on the screen, they must be in love, have been in love or are about to fall in love. It has always upset me to see the lack of other types of relationships on TV and film. A man and a woman don’t have to only be lovers, they can be siblings, family members, best friends, soul mates, opponents, business/dance/sports partners. Two women don’t have to be either friends or competitors. They can be lovers, muses, partners in crime, sisters for each other. And men can be nurturing and sensual with each other.
KR: So you feel that people would benefit from seeing gender roles represented in a more fluid manner.
OG: In terms of gender stereotypes, I grew up in a world where everyone was telling me that girls are stupid, mean and catty. Once I discovered this belief in me as an adult, I spent years healing from it. I am committed to doing anything I can to change pop culture and the message we put out there so people can see the infinite range of possibilities.
KR: Can you tell us about your recent 30 Days of Contact Dance project?
OG: I made thirty films in thirty days. Over fifty dancers were involved in the project, most of them from Toronto. It was a tribute to the Toronto contact dance improvisation community. It is my way to thank the community for being there for me when I was struggling. My partner, Kim Simons, who is also a contact dancer was an integral part of the project. She alternated between camera person and dancer and offered support and encouraged throughout. It felt great to find a creative outlet that we could share. The first film in the series involves Kim and I dancing everywhere we could think of: the beach, a dollar store, the gym, a couch, a swamp, leaves, snow, hallways, living room floor.
KR: Now, ten films from this project were selected by the jury for screening at the Contact Dance International Film Festival, which is coming up at the end of June. I was overseeing the jury and remember a big discussion they had about whether it was fair to program so many of one filmmaker’s films. Finally, one jury member said let’s not think of that question and instead think of the merit of each film separately. Also, of note is that Allen Kaeja, your first film teacher is staring in one of the films, Farewell to Honest Ed’s with his wife Karen Kaeja. How did that feel?
OG: It definitely gave me a feeling of coming full circle. I felt that by appearing in one of my films he had recognized me as a fellow filmmaker and that felt really good.
Another one of the films in the festival, that especially moves me is Contact Dance Every Body, which features Luke Anderson, who dances using a wheelchair.
OG: I met Luke at a party. I was contact-dancing with someone and he came up after and asked, “what was that?” I started telling him about contact dance but then I realized that none of the regular Toronto contact dance spaces were wheelchair accessible. I felt terrible seeing how eager he was to try it and knowing that it was not accessible to him. Meeting Luke inspired me to start my own all accessible monthly contact dance improvisation jams at Artscape. Later I asked Luke and his friend Laura if they wanted to make a dance film. We met at their favorite place, the Art Gallery of Ontario. Luke was very nervous because he hadn’t done much contact dance. But when they started to dance, his nerves melted away. When I edited the film, I frequently had tears in my eyes. Their dance was so tender and the look in Luke’s eyes was so alive. I have been told by the Festival that this film has been selected for a prize and to prepare a speech. We are so excited about the attention the film is receiving because it has such potential to break down barriers faced by people with physical disabilities.
KR: What is your vision for contact dance improvisation. Where do you see it potentially heading?
OG: I really see contact dance in a much broader sense than most. I think contact can be a way of living a life in which there is more connection and touch. It can teach mothers how to playful interact with their kids. It can give elderly people a much-needed sense of community and connection. I really want contact dance improvisation to move beyond the dance studio and offer its healing properties to all. For me, ensuring that this dance form is accessible to people who can benefit from it is a human rights issue.
KR: Now that I think of it, not one of your dance films are filmed in a studio. They occur inside and outdoors in public spaces. They occur in people’s homes. They occur in the rain, in the snow, and in the blazing sun. Your films really do show that we all can dance wherever we are. Thank you for sharing your story. I think it can inspire many people. And a warning if you run into Olya at the film festival she might just convince you to star in her next dance film.
OG: [laughs]. Yes, there is a chance that will happen! Thank you, Kathleen.
This interview was done in June 2017.
Here is our update. The Contact Dance International Film Festival returns for its fourth season, June 29 to July 1, 2019, in Toronto Canada. This festival, produced by REAson d’etre dance productions, celebrates films featuring momentum-based dance created by some of the top creators and dancers in the field of Contact Dance Improvisation. Four different screening programs will be presented alongside dance workshops, jams and parties. The upcoming 2019 festival will screen two new films by Olya. www.contactdancefilmfest.com to see the line-up. Olya is now working full-time as a filmmaker.
If you are left scratching your head at why socks are such a big issue for some kids then you have never experienced a child in a full-on sock meltdown. When a child with sensory issues experience discomfort with how their socks feel…. how they bunch up, or have seams, or do not stay up or aren’t the right color, the feeling can intolerable. For them, it can feel like real physical pain and they do what any person would do who is in severe pain…. they kick, scream, thrash, cry and yell.
For my nine-year-old son Wyatt, who has high functioning Autism, comfortable socks are super important for him. The other day I noticed that his favorite McGregor Happy feet socks were all developing holes! I tried to order more only to find McGregor had discontinued their kid’s line. I panicked, with visions of meltdowns. Then I rallied and after a week of careful research, I bought the four socks in this review.
Wyatt agreed to help out other kids and parents by helping me create a sock review and out of hardship the Best Kids, Socks for Sensory Feet Review was born!
Price: $13 US for one pair of socks
Fabric make-up: 74% Nylon 21% Merino Wool 5% Lycra/Spandex
Fabric thickness: medium
Texture: A bit rough on the outside but softer on the inside. After several washes, they soften up some. As with most patterned socks, there are some threads on the inside but Wyatt didn’t mind this. Also, the sock has such a firm feel on the foot that these threads do not bother my son because the sock does not move around. Also, they have some socks with less patterning (so fewer thread bits) so if it is a problem just get those ones.
How seamless are they? They are virtually seamless socks. The seam feels like a change in texture rather than a ridge. If you turn them inside out there is a thread coming from the end of the seam on both sides but that can be trimmed if needed. I think it all works for Waytt because once he gets the perfect sock placement the socks stay put. So things like changes in texture or threads that bother him on other socks do not bother him with these socks.
Stay up and bunchiness: These socks are the best on the list for staying up and staying put! No slipping, no bunching, and no blisters.
Rain boot test: These socks past the rain boot test with flying colors!
Durability: Darn-tough has a lifetime guarantee. A friend of mine had a pair that got holes after fives years. He returned them and they sent him new ones. So their lifetime guarantee and return policy is for real. So these socks are definitely the most sturdy on the list. The durability of these socks prevents I believe will help avoid meltdowns for Waytt. Change can be hard for kids on the Autism spectrum. Once they get used to a certain feel and look of a sock having to get new socks even if they are the same brand can be very upsetting. With this sock, they will have the same feel, and pattern until they grow out of them and need the next size up. For me, this is the best part of this sock.
Size: Fit as expected. Please note darn Tough has juniors sizes (9-kids to 6-youth US sizes) but does not have sizes for very small kids.
Color and style: Great fun patterns. Darn Tough does sell sock with less fancy patterns than the ones we bought and these have fewer threads on the inside.
Odor: Naturally Antimicrobial Mareno wool repels bacteria and odor
Sock Melt Down Prevention Meter: 10/10 in our house (but some kids might not like the threads on the inside and the subtle seam might not be subtle enough)
Summary: The most expensive sock of this review initially does not seem like the favorite because it was not as soft or seem-free and not completely seam-free. Although after much wear holds up better under scrutiny on many counts. In the end, these fun patterned socks that last forever, stay-put even after a good run and have tolerable seams are Wyatt’s favorite in the Best Socks for Sensory Feet Review.
Price: $10.99 US for three-pack ($3.66 US per pair of socks)
Fabric make-up: 76% Cotton, 22% Nylon, and 2% Spandex.
Fabric thickness: thin
How seamless are they? There is still a small seam. There are little bumps on each seam-end. If you turn them inside out there is a thread coming from the end of the seam on both sides which has been reported to bother some kids but can be trimmed if needed.
Stay up and bunchiness: The ribbing at the ankle is somewhat slouchy and they tend to slip down. They move around some which put them at risk for bunching up.
Rain boot test: These socks moved around in rain boots and slip off
Durability: They are reported to last over a year of regular wearing.
Size: Fit as expected
Color and style: Only dark of white socks to pick from in Jefferies’ seamless variety.
Odor: Not especially made for odor prevention although they are 75% cotton so should do okay on the smell front.
Sock Melt Down Prevention Meter: 8/10
Summary: The most economical sock of this review holds up reasonably well under scrutiny on many counts. Some parents say there were too many bumps and seems for their kids and others say these socks work well for sensitive feet. Not the right socks for those that want their socks to stay up in rain-boots.
Price: $16.60 US for three-pack ($5.53 US for one pair of socks)
Fabric make-up: 75% bamboo, 22% polyamide, and 3% spandex.
Fabric thickness: Medium thickness
Overall comfort: Super Soft
How seamless are they? There is still a seam in these but it is hand stitched so you really can’t feel it. There are little bumps on each end side of the seams, but pretty much seamless across the toe area. If you turn them inside out there is a thread coming from the end of the seam on both sides which can be trimmed.
Stay up and bunchiness: They stay up fairly well and do not bunch up too much.
Rain boot test: They moved around a bit but generally stayed up.
Durability: Because they are so soft they tend to pill. The white ones seem to pill more than darker colors for some reason. One sock got a hole after going through its first wash. But this might be an anomaly as the others are faring well.
Size: Fit as expected
Color and style: A few different colors and patterns.
Odor: These socks work wonders as a fix for smelly sweaty feet.” An Amazon reviewer says “It’s amazing how well they work at eliminating stinky feet!”
Sock Melt Down Prevention Meter: 8/10
Summary: These socks are super soft and almost seamless and they were initially Wyatt’s number one choice in the Best Socks for Sensory Feet Review. The properties of Bamboo tends to reduce sweating and odder and so they are also the number one pick for sweaty/smelly feet. However due to to the fact that they pill and may develop wholes quick than other socks on the list they are not mom’s number one pick. The per sock price makes them one of the more economical socks on the list but if they do not last as long as the other socks on the list this their economical price may not pay out over time.
Price: $27.95 US for three-pack ($9.31 US for one pair of socks)
Fabric make-up: 75% cotton, 23% nylon & 2% lycra
Fabric thickness: Thick
Overall comfort: Soft. Except for the top rim/edge of the sock which is scratchy. The way the socks are designed the top rim curls on itself covering up this scratchy bit. They are a tube sock with no defined heel. If you turn them inside out they are the only sock in this review that does not have a thread coming from the end of the seams.
How seamless are they? These truly are seamless socks! There is a tiny bit of gathered fabric were the end-sides of the seem would usually be. There is a slight difference in the knit where the seam usually would be. Several Amazon reviewers said the little bumps on the side still made socks unwearable for their kids. And other reviewers said the sock where the only socks their kids could wear.
Stay up and bunchiness: Does not stay up under rigorous testing. An Amazon review says “they were too big to stay pulled up the way she likes them”. Because they move around and are thick, uncomfortable socks-bunches can occur (how much this happens will depend on the type of show one wears)
Rain boot test: These socks moved around in rain boots a lot. The weave feels loose and more stretchy than the other socks and there is very little elastic at the top to keep the sock up.
Durability: They are thick socks that keep up reasonably well over time
Size: I used their size chart but the socks I ordered seemed a bit big for my son. If I was going to order again I would order a size smaller and I think then they might stay up better and might do better in the rainboot test.
Color and style: Only a few colors to pick from and no fancy patterns.
Odor: high-tech fibers wick away moisture ensuring a drier sock & therefore preventing stinky feet.
Melt Down Prevention Meeter: 7/10
A pricey sock which is truly seamless but seems to come with other issues. They have a top rim that is scratchy and they do not stay up in the rainboot test. Also, they seem to fit big. Wyatt in his Best Socks for Sensory Feet Review said that all the socks in this review are wearable but these were his least favorite. Please know, that even though Waytt did not like them many parents swear by these socks as being a lifesaver. It really depends on your kids and what their sock needs are.
Every kid with sensory issues is different. Figure out what is most important in a sock for your kid and then make your best pick:
|Sock priorities||o||Darn Tough Hiss Micro Crew Light Sock||o||Jefferies Socks Big Boys Seamless Casual Crew||o||Rambutan Kids Comfort Seam Bamboo||o||SmartKnitKIDS Seamless Sensitivity Socks|
|Fabric mix||74% Nylon 21% Merino Wool 5% Lycra||76% Cotton, 22% Nylon, & 2% Spandex||75% bamboo, 22% polyamide, & 3% spandex||75% cotton, 23% nylon & 2% lycra|
|Compression||Offers some compression||No||No||No|
and does it bunch?
|Snug. No slipping, no bunching, and no blister||Loose and bunches||Medium & only bunches a bit||Loose and can tend to bunch|
|Thick/Thin||Medium (Darn Tough also sells cushioned socks if your child likes thicker socks)||Thin||Medium||Thick|
|Texture||Not that Soft (but does soften up some with a few washes)||Soft||Very Soft||Soft|
|Warm||Yes||Not that warm||Yes||Yes|
|Order prevention||Merino wool Naturally Anti-microbial||Not made for odor prevention||Bamboo mix great for odor prevention||High-tech fibers wick preventing stinky feet.|
|Stay up||Very well||Not so much||Yes||No so much|
|Rainboot test||Stay put||Came off in the boot||Stayed up but moved around||Slipped own|
|Fun Patterns||One choice in the seamless variety||Few different colors/ patterns||Only three colors|
|Durability||Last forever||Last about a year||Last about a year||Good durability|
|$s per pair||$9.31 US per||$5.53 US per||$3.66 US per||$13 US per|
|Cost per wear||Over time might be cheapest||Not sure||Not sure||Not sure|
|Sound||Sounds okay||Sounds okay||Sounds okay||Scratchy rim that folds over makes a funny sound|
|Fit||Fit as expected||Fit as expected||Fit slightly smaller than expected||Fit larger than expected|
|Heal||Defined heal||Defined heal||Defined heal||Tube sock|
|Easy to put on||Require some pulling as they have a snug fit.||Easy to put on||Easy to put on||Super easy & no need to face right way (no heel)|
|Other notes||Due to the pattern, there are some threads on the inside. The distinct pattern makes them super easy to match up when sorting laundry.||NA||One sock got hole first wash but this might be an anomaly||Truly seamless and only socks some kids can wear who are super sensitive about seams|
After you figure out, your child’s sock priorities then pick the socks that best deliver for your child needs. I recommend buying a trial pair. Once you find the sock that works for your kid then I think about buying a week’s worth if you are able… or maybe even two weeks worth!
Other socks Wyatt didn’t review that might work
For most of his life Vivek Patel was terrified at the thought of dancing. He couldn’t even dance when he was alone in his living room. In this inspiring interview, Vivek tells us how he eventually overcame his fear and went on to become a dancer and dance filmmaker
Director of Toronto’s Contact Dance International Film Festival, Kathleen Rea, speaks with dancer Vivek Patel, upon the world premiere of his film “Contact Improv from the Inside Out” at the film festival on May 13.
K: How did you first become involved in Contact Dance Improvisation?
V: I started doing Contact Improvisation ten years ago. I was thirty-six when I started. I had been afraid to dance all my life, but inside I really wanted to. A friend of mine told me about Contact. He thought that because I do martial arts, it might be right up my alley. He said, “You know, there’s this guy who’s really friendly and really awesome and he’s teaching a workshop. His name’s Allen Kaeja. You should go check him out because even though I know you’re terrified, this guy can help you get over your fear”. And so I went to the workshop with Allen at Harbourfront, and I was just blown away by it. I’d never seen people move like that. I’d never seen people interact like that. You know, in the martial arts world, we pretty much punch and kick each other all the time [laughs]… I’d never been around people before being physical without that competitive nature. They were being cooperative and bonding, and it was just so beautiful. It touched my heart. From the very first day I was hooked but also terrified, because I felt like I was too old to get into something like that. But it touched me so deeply I couldn’t stop.
K: What martial art did you do?
V: I did, and still do, Ninjutsu, which is an ancient Japanese martial art. I was one of the first Canadians to study this martial art and I’ve been doing it now for almost thirty years. It’s a beautiful martial art that has a lot of flow. The principles are similar to Contact Improv, in terms of being in connection with the other person… connecting your own center to their center… feeling the connection to the ground and the strength and power the ground gives you. In both, Ninjutsu and Contact Improvisation, rather than trying to use muscle to force things, we try and use connection, flow, momentum, gravity, and relaxation.
K: What do you think your fear of dance was based on?
V: When I was very young, like maybe eight or nine years old, or even younger, I used to love to dance. And then one day, I had a few friends over and we were dancing in my living room. One of the kids started teasing me, saying “you dance like a girl”. Now, if somebody said that to me at this point in my life, I’d consider it an honour. But when I was seven or eight years old, it seemed like they were telling me I wasn’t masculine enough. I was being laughed at and derided for my dancing.
I didn’t have any kind of emotional foundation to deal with that kind of insult at that age. One of the main reasons I’m so passionate about teaching conscious parenting workshops at this point in my life is that I want to teach parents how to give their kids the tools to deal with things like that so that they’re not so devastated by it. It closed me up for thirty years. I couldn’t even dance when I was alone in my living room. It seems irrational, but that’s how the mind works. My fear of dancing went so deep, it terrorized me. When I went to my first [Contact Improvisation] Jam, I was so nervous I thought I was going to throw up all over the floor. I just sat on the side of the room, watching. I didn’t even have the strength in my legs to get up. You actually came over to me and grabbed my hand and pulled me up onto the dance floor. You were the first person I danced with at a Jam.
V: I’ve always been grateful to you for making that initiation on that first day. That’s one of the reasons I make an effort to go over to frightened-looking people myself and give them a gentle and welcoming dance as often as I can.
K: What was it about Contact Improvisation that helped you get over your fear?
V: To be honest I don’t think there was anything in particular about contact Improvisation that helped me get over my fear. In fact I found it quite terrifying. It activated a lot of my insecurities. In some ways it still does! I think the thing that really made the difference was that I just decided to keep going no matter what. I knew this was something I wanted in my life and I could feel that there was no shortcut. So no matter how afraid I was I just kept going every week.
At first the fear would outweigh the joy, but I just kept going. Eventually the joy started to catch up to the fear and eventually overtook it. Now ten years later the fear occupies a very small corner of my brain. It is still there but doesn’t make quite the racket that it used to. These days when I leave after a couple of hours of dancing I feel happy, nourished and high.
K: What has changed for you since you started dancing ten years ago?
V: Hmmm… good question. It’s a question with a lot of answers. I think in my own personal self-development, I’ve learned to accept myself more. I’ve learned to accept myself in whatever state I’m in. In Contact, I’m finally starting to learn not to worry about how I look. Not to worry about whether something seems to be working out or not. But just to love the moment regardless of what it is. The more I love the moment, the more I experience and experiment. The more I play and become curious, the more joy I get out of it. This transfers to my life and transfers to my self-image, which is the thing that was damaged when I was a child. Also my physical capacity has increased dramatically as a dancer and as a martial artist. I am able to engage more with my daughter who is very athletic.
K: Some might say you were already embodied as a martial artist. What did Contact Improvisation give you above and beyond, or in addition to, what martial arts gave you? [long, silent pause] Are you still there?
V: Hmmmm… [further pause]………I’m thinking. I’m listening to the answers bubble up…
The first thing that comes to my mind, most obviously, is that Contact Improvisation allowed me to express a deeper feminine side than martial arts usually does. It allowed me to be softer. My martial art is very fluid, but it does have the intent to destroy my opponent [laughs], I’m merging with them with the intent to rip them apart in some way. Contact Improv is decidedly not like that. It provides the opportunity to express my physicality without that violent side. Now, I do love the aggressiveness of martial arts, but being able to explore my softer nature in a dance is also valuable to me.
I’ve been on a personal journey of developing my feminine side for many years. When I was twenty, I saw women as a collection of body parts and not actual human beings with hearts, minds and souls. That’s largely how men are conditioned. I’ve worked very hard to change. Over time I fostered a more feminist approach to politics and philosophy and my relationships with women. Although I was on a personal journey towards exploring the feminine I didn’t connect to my feminine side through movement until I started Contact Improvisation. And then when I brought that learning into my martial art, it just amplified how powerful I was as a martial artist as well….It has even made me be a better lover.
K: How did you have the idea to make a dance film? When did that seed start growing?
V: I was doing martial arts in the park last summer. This guy approached me out of the blue and told me he was a film professor at York University, and he wanted to film me doing martial arts. I said no, because I am camera shy when it comes to my martial art. But I said, “you know, I do this other beautiful movement form that I think you’d be interested in”. I pointed him toward the Contact community. He works with film and he uses chemical processes to create interesting colours and effects. He wanted to include the Contact Improvisation community into his work. And so we organized a day to dance in the park and about ten to twelve people showed up to dance while he was filming. At some point, somebody mentioned that you were looking for submission to the Contact Dance Film Festival. The moment I heard that, the whole idea for a film just popped into my head.
Another reason I love doing Contact Improvisation is that it’s connected me to a community of people that I care about and resonate deeply with. It’s given me a place that I feel is like home for me. So I wanted to honour and showcase that community and the depth that I see in these people who are my friends. I decided to give them a chance to express their authenticity and their relationship to this dance form. And so that’s where I got the idea to create a dance film where the people I dance with every week would write a piece of poetry that expressed how they experience Contact Improvisation and what the dance form does for them. Then they would dance while reciting their poem. This vision popped into my head and I knew I had to make it happen.
I’d never made a film before. I’d done some filming and editing of wedding videos and seminars, but I had never made a film. But I just said to myself that I’m going to throw myself into this and do it.
K: How did you feel when your film was accepted and to discover that your film was scheduled to be on the program with Allen Kaeja’s films?
V: Yeah, for somebody who’s never made a film before I was thrilled and at the same time, I feel like it’s hardly just me that’s been accepted… it’s the community I represented. And I’ll tell you [laughs], when the Film Festival accepted my film, it was a conditional acceptance. The film was twenty-two minutes long and they said that in order for me to have my film in the Festival, I had to cut it in half. When I heard that, I nearly passed out. I couldn’t imagine cutting this work of art that I had created in half. The process of doing so was really, really hard at first. It hurt. But the more I did it and the more I had to change things and let go of things that I had thought were really awesome, the more I started to feel the difference between what was essential and what was extra. What was really necessary to express the message and what was more like the wrapper on the candy. And that process, although it was hard, taught me a lot. Since then I have started to work with that same feeling in my writing and even in my dancing. I’m trying to keep more of what’s essential and less of what’s just the wrapping.
Come out and see the world premiere of Vivek’s film Contact Improv from the Inside Out on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at 9:00 pm at Dovercourt House – 805 Dovercourt Rd Toronto. More info at www.contactdancefilmfest.com
Visit Vivek’s blog at www.meaningfulideas.com
What is Contact Dance Improvisation? Contact dance improvisation is a social dance involving touch, in which momentum between two or more people is used to create and inspire dance movements. The form is similar to martial arts practices such as Aikido that use momentum and rolling point of contact in defensive actions. Contact dancers use these practices, not to defend themselves but to communicate, dance and express. In Contact Dance Improvisation there is no set lead and follow as is common in other social dances. The dancers will sometimes follow and sometime lead and interchange between these roles seamlessly. With no pre-set roles, deep “listening” and responding in the moment, to one’s partner, is central. Techniques include rolling point of contact, balancing over a partner’s centre of gravity, following momentum, and “listening” with one’s skin surface. Contact dance improvisation is accessible to people with no previous dance training and to people with physical disabilities. It is typically practiced in a jam situation in which a group of people gather to improvise together. These jams occur around the world and include people of all ages and training levels.
2015 Contact Dance International Film Festival The Contact Dance International Film Festival returns to Toronto, May 13 to 15, 2015 for its second season with a program of 27 films from 12 countries. This festival, produced by REAson d’etre dance productions, celebrates films featuring momentum-based dance created by some of the top creators and dancers in the field of Contact Dance Improvisation. Three different screening programs will be presented alongside dance, classes, workshops, jams and parties! The festival is a unique opportunity for both film and dance lovers to experience the joy, chaos and intimacy of human connection through physical movement. From the expansive peaks of British Columbia, to the streets of Kiev, to the Festival Interplay in Torino Italy, prepare to be moved as dancers fly and bodies collide with force, grace and tenderness. More Info at www.contactdancefilmfest.com
Want to learn Contact Dance Improvisation?
Fundamental Skill Contact Improvisation Workshop
Teacher: Kathleen Rea
Date: Wed, May, 13, 10:00am – 11:30am
Location: 805 Dovercourt Road (third Floor)
Description: In this workshop, that is part of the part of the Contact Dance International Film Festival, Kathleen Rea will teach fundamental skills such as balancing weight over centre of gravity, sloughing and following momentum. This workshop is specially designed to be welcoming to beginners. Beginners and all levels are welcome
Registration Information: www.contactdancefilmfest.com
Film Still Captures
Dancers: Morgen Ross, Vivek Patel, Kim Hunter, Michael Nickson, Olivia Proudfoot, Matilda Carlsson, Puja Jones and Micheal Haltrecht
Photographer: Jim Bush
Dancers: Vivek Patel and Phil Wackerfuss
My Five year old received a Fast Lane Action Wheels Fire Truck from Santa this Christmas and the whole family had fun making a live action video (…except for Grandma who was horrified that we started a fire in our back yard).
Live Action Video
See Wyatt’s new Fast Lane Action Wheels Fire Truck come to life and put out a real fire. See the crook who started the fire get caught in a dramatic chase scene.
Review of the Fast Lane Action Wheels Fire Truck:
The controls are easy to learn for a five year old. After a day of practice Wyatt was able to drive it around our kitchen island. The sound of the sirens and ladder is reasonably tolerable for the adults. It seems fairly sturdy thus far after three days of rough play. One surprise was that the remote is attached to the back of the truck by a cord that is about four feet long. This was unexpected and at first I wondered how this would work out. I quickly realised it was a non-issue because during play Wyatt is never more than two feet away from his truck. Wyatt was disappointed that the truck did not come with firefighter figures. This disappointment did not last long because he very quickly realised that his firefighter PLAYMOBIL(R) figures were the perfect size and fit in the bucket.
At $59.99 the toy is not cheap but also not as expensive as other RC fire trucks on the market that are a similar size and do similar things. It is not a scale model and would probably not be of interest to an adult RC hobbyist.
The one change I would make to the truck would be to make a larger water tank. The tank is so small that it only sprays continuously for about one minute before needing to be refilled. The good news is Wyatt can easily refill it himself. To make the film I jury rigged a plastic bag of water to the back of the truck so that he would have an abundant supply of water to put out the fire.
Please note if you use this toy to put out a real fire, adult supervision, a review of safety protocol and a bucket of water is required. Even with these precautions there is an inherent risk in lighting any fire.
Please also note that the PLAYMOBIL(R) figures and LEGO(R) police car seen in the video do not come with the Fast Lane Action Wheels Fire Truck.
Six years, two pregnancies and a lot of work to make! It feels good to put it out into the world.
This video (see URL below) an inquiry into how the application of efficient movement principles, as understood by the Axis Syllabus research community, affected the stability and function in my pelvic girdle and knees during my second pregnancy. The inquiry compares my first pregnancy, in which a traditional fitness and yoga program was followed, and my subsequent pregnancy four years later, in which I applied movement principles from the Axis Syllabus to my dancing and daily life. Theories are presented as to how the application principles from the Axis Syllabus might have affected my second pregnancy.
This video be of interest and useful to those:
– working in the field of pregnancy fitness
– suffering from or treating peoples with diastasis recti and/or symphysis pubis dysfunction
– contemplating pregnancy
– currently pregnant
– who exprieacne joint instability and pain due to hyper-flexibility
– studying the Axis Syllabus
Remember to click HD if you want high resolution version
Growing up, The Velveteen Rabbit was my favourite story. I think as a young child I understood that becoming “real” is a sort of magic that can happen to all of us when we truly engage in life. I even had my own stuffed velveteen rabbit that I “loved” into being real. Years later when Bengt Jorgen invited me to create a children’s ballet on his company, The Velveteen Rabbit was the first story that came to mind. I asked my costume designer to use my old toy as a model for the lead dancer’s costume…and so my childhood toy did actually come to life! As a mother of two young boys, I am excited to create a ballet version of my favorite story that my boys can enjoy and learn from.
Watch the video:
This is a video of my three and a half year old son and I dancing Contact Improvisation. Contact Improvisation is a social dance involving two of more people in which momentum is used to create dance moves. It shares similar principals to martial arts practices.
I teach Contact Improvisation to actors and dance students studying at the professional level at two different university programs. I also founded the Wednesday Contact jam fifteen years ago through my company http://www.reasondetre.com
This past Wednesday was officially a heat wave. There was no air conditioning in the studio and it was hot! Yet 19 people still showed up to the Wednesday Contact Jam. Due to the heat my son who usually moves around at the speed of a whirling dervish was moving slow enough to actually catch on film! And how rare that my husband had our camera with him to do so.
I think the fact that Wyatt’s dad is filming is also an integral part of this video. There are moments when Wyatt looks at the camera (his dad Jeff) and is so comfortable and happy. Jeff is also a contact dancer and used his dance skill to dance around us and with us as he filmed. So really this film is about a family dancing together.
I also enjoy how through much of the video Wyatt is gazing at the musicians fascinated with what they are up to.
I hope you enjoy the video as much as I do!
Wyatt dancing with his Mama
Wyatt Ray Moskal
Kathleen Rea (www.the-healing-dance.com)
Filmed at The Wednesday Contact Dance Improvisation Jam, Toronto, Canada, July 2013.
Jesse Stewart (www.PartnershipPlanet.com)
REAson d’etre dance productions