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A Contemplative Movement Online Score

Barbara Dilley developed a shared dance/meditation practice called Contemplative Dance Practice – CDP, a "dancer's meditation hall". I've been exploring adaptation of this score for online sharing. The aim is to share meditation and movement across the gap of social distancing. (See below the score description for online meeting logistics and further info about the practices.)

(The framing of this score is a work in progress, continuing to change. Revision information is at the bottom.)

Score Description

The score is divided into sections. At the beginning of each timed section the facilitator says which section it is and arranges for a bell to sound at the beginning and the end of that section.
  1. Opening Circle: Time for brief introductions / check-ins and to review the outline of the score (essentially, the bold headers below).
  2. Meditation: 15 minutes for stillness. In the original score the participants share sitting meditation. We invite whatever meditation method works for you. I specifically include the Small Dance, as framed by Steve Paxton, as an option – in essence, standing without unnecessary effort in so far as you are able, taking time to tune in.
  3. Personal Awareness Practice: 15 minutes for individual exploration to bring meditation into movement. Let small movements or stretches ease you into this transition, focusing on your own immediate experience and curiosity to guide you. This is a time for self-care, research, and to invite the unexpected. Explore the present moment...
  4. Shared Movement Practice: 30 minutes to observe and share movement. We start together witnessing each other and ourselves. When someone is ready to move they do so, informed by the prior sections and by the knowledge that their movement is being seen by the others. Gradually, others may also start to move or they may continue to observe. At any point those who have been moving can return to observing, and vice versa. As a observe you might be spurred to move based on something you are seeing, or just by internal initiative. It is up to each person how and when they change between moving and observing roles, with the understanding that if you appreciate being seen you will also do some seeing. This supports a mindful practice and connection between us.
  5. A few minutes to settle and sit together as a group.
  6. Sharing This is an opportunity to reflect on and share what you experienced. To provide the opportunity for everyone to share we ask to keep cross-talk to a minimum, focusing on speaking from your experience.

Meeting Logistics

Connection info for the online meeting is shared with participants before the event. To streamline meeting logistics we all need to get acquainted with the meeting software before the meeting. Currently we use Zoom. If you haven't used Zoom, please have it installed (or learn to use it via the meeting URL and browser, instead of installing the software) and be ready to use it – go through the Zoom Join a Meeting tutorial, if you haven't joined a meeting before.
While we're aiming to be present visually and audibly for each other, participants have the option to attend with their camera off, and can change between having it on and off at any point.
I would be happy to hear suggestions about the score and organization of the session. See my weblog contact info for ways to reach me.

Background Info

Barbara Dilley and Contemplative Dance Practice
The Small Dance
The Accumulation Score

Document Revisions

  • Monday, October 5, 2020: Copied from  my weblog to my website, as part of an Online Movement Collaboration topic.
  • Wednesday, July 8, 2020: Experience with and feedback from the last session leads me to like the prospect of 15 minutes for meditation / 15 minutes for personal movement / 30 minutes for shared movement. (-:
  • Thursday, June 25, 2020: Experience with NossaJam suggests that 40 minutes for shared space will be fine. As at a regular jam, it can be ok if people's participation ebbs, they can rest and some may reengage if given time to do so.
  • Friday, June 19, 2020: Allot more time for the Shared Space. As the practice has developed some participants have requested this. I have the sense that it fits, and more might be warranted.
  • Wednesday, May 6, 2020: Revised description of the Shared Space section to be more clear about witnessing and moving roles, and opportunities to shift between them.
  • Saturday, May 2, 2020: I've reframed the movement section in a more general way:
    • Not using the Contact Improv round robin structure to describe it, because some practitioners don't come from CI
    • Not starting with focus on a solo mover, because almost every time we've done it someone joined the solo mover in movement. This seems to be a more natural progression for this score, and wise to accept it.
  • Sunday, April 12, 2020: We did the version as revised on Friday, and I was very happy to be part of it. Section 4 felt particularly engaging. The open movement of the new section 5 felt a little superfluous. We got suggestions to instead sit together quietly for a few minutes after section 4, and have made that change to try it next time.]
  • Friday, April 10, 2020: Revised section 4 to be more like a CI Round Robin, and added new section 5 "open space".


    Ken Manheimer said…
    The day before holding a second, larger gathering for this score I asked for a few people to help "shake out" the meeting process. I was concerned about some some potentially challenging circumstances, like a large group, or an intruder, and feel much better prepared for such eventualities. Even more, though, I feel more clear about what we're trying to accomplish with these gatherings, and have more of a sense of what it will take to get there. I'm quite grateful to everyone who participated – I feel much better informed and prepared, thanks to their help, both technically and in outlook for the event.

    Here are some notes I gathered from the meeting.

    One overarching point is that we're dealing with a very particular medium, and we're seeking to learn to use it well. I'm not so much talking about learning how best to situate the cameras, or speak clearly into the mics. Instead: what and how we can organize to enable more fully engaging in moving with each other?

    This is not just a question for the score or leader to address. It's part of the exploration with which we are all engaging, and being clear with everyone about the quest / question can help us support each other in finding good answers. I plan to point out that the event is substantially different than an in-person jam, yet we may be able to satisfy some of the same appetites, and it will take learning what the medium offers and how to use it.

    A point raised during our discussion: passivity that typical meetings so often inspire is the opposite of what we're trying to achieve. How do we cultivate, together, conditions in which people have the opportunity to engage in movement with one another through a video conference? How many people we can include and still have room for everyone to engage in a meaningful way? How do we organize the score for that, and what guidance can we provide to cultivate good conditions?

    One response to those questions, in the context of the score we're exploring, is that "listening" is important. If you wish to be received, you need to devote some time to being receptive. The trick is learning to be ready to be both active and receptive at any moment. The more of us balancing these aspects well, the more likely that everyone will be able to be fully included and engaged.

    One basic pragmatic issue I tackled with was whether Zoom's Breakout Rooms might be a good option for providing all in a large group adequate time for check-in and other sharing comments, and maybe for the open space interaction as well. My initial assessment was that the cure (breakout rooms) might be more problematic than the problem, except maybe when we have a fairly large number of people - like maybe 40? Overall, I suspect we can achieve a lot by asking people to limit the amount of time they take to share (requiring being succinct, and accepting that for open sharing not many will have the opportunity to speak). However, a bit more exploration of breakout rooms lead me to believe they might be more viable than I first assessed. In particular, finding a place to keep the breakout rooms management screen open, so I can easily see if a latecomer arrives in the main session while the rest of us are in breakout rooms, might settle some of my major concerns.

    In any case, as a part of the learning process, we'll be feeling out what size limits are practical.

    There were also suggestions about pragmatic ways to keep the dynamics simple and clear, like using conventions for mic muting and activation in taking turns. Having a handle on nuances like these in advance of the meeting helps me go in feeling confident about doing the best we can.

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