Winter 2022 In Dance

same time. It helps me negotiate my surroundings. It forces me to be a better human. As I write this, I real- ize it is the relationship in my life I understand most, even when I am lost in it. CI obliterates all expectations. Any moment you try to make some- thing happen without considering your partner (or everyone in the room for that matter), you set your- self up for disaster. When you hold an expectation up against someone, you rob both of you of the present moment that could have been. That’s not to say that you can’t have ambi- tions, you can’t make attempts, you can’t really go for something and be satisfied. You just have to do it with your partner in mind. Now the problem is that this form of dance needs us to be right next to each other. Leaning on each other. Sharing enough weight to say, “if you left, I’d fall.” Because this is what makes this kind of dance lim- itless as it dives into the unknown – you have to react to the reality of your instincts blended with every- one else’s instincts, and somehow survive in this new constantly shift- ing world. This alive, chaotic, fulfill- ing place was one of the first parts of my life to vanish during the pan- demic. So what am I supposed to do when the one activity that grounds me is deleted? I’m not sure. I grieve it. Though I understand that to lose this is miniscule in compari- son to losing a job, a home, a loved one. But this form is also my great- est teacher, and without it, I haven’t been able to accept the events that have shaped this country for the past 24 months. My family is Indian. I am first generation. First one of my family born in the states. And try as I might to look like everyone else while pass- ing through adolescence, the give- away was always at the surface of my skin. I’ve learned to question my color, condemn it, resign to it,

46 by PAUL SINGH lost in dance WINTER 2022 46 AN OPEN LETTER TO THE

THE MAIN FORM OF DANCE I prac- tice as of late is Contact Improvisa- tion (CI). The name tells you every- thing: you are improvising while in contact with another person or group. And in truth, by the very nature of the form, there is nothing more danger- ous that could have been practiced in these past two years. To be in proxim- ity to others is what creates the craft. To barrel into someone else’s limbs. To crumble your architecture next to another person’s collapsing structure. To reach out and add yourself to a friend with a hand that asks for noth- ing. All we do when we practice this form is focus on making a dance that can be found. How can I be approach-

able while maintaining my own agency, my own interest? How can I hold those two opposing centers of concern and balance them out equally in time to share my sense of control with the weight of a person I’m just meeting in the space? It is by far the most improvisa- tional, alive-ning form of movement I’ve ever met. I take it and use it to feed the other forms of dance I have to maintain to make a living – ballet, Yoga, experimental, teaching. I lean on it to make me feel special. Every so often it betrays me. It asks me at every moment to temper my ambition with curiosity. It moves into directions of safety, anxiety, and pleasure all at the

WINTER 2022 in dance 47




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In Dance | May 2014 |

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