How was the KontaktLand Hungarian Contact Improvisation Festival in 2018?

The story of the festival

At the end of last summer, 2017 I met Grégory the second time in a jam. We were talking about a lot of things, but suddenly he proposed me to organize a contact festival together. I was really happy to say yes. Soon others joined, and we started to discuss our ideas.

We wanted to revive the life of the contact community in Hungary because it has been two years that there was no contact fest in our country. Also, we wanted to organize a meeting between the Hungarian and the international community, forming connections and open up opportunities. We had absolutely no money, all of the organizers and helpers were volunteers. We just really wanted to bring valuable knowledge into our space and share it.

My story with contact improvisation dance

I learned contemporary dance in my hometown, and I visited several workshops and opened universities in Budapest. I studied from Eszter Gál, Tamás Bakó, Katalin Lőrincz and many others.

When I met contact dance, at the age of 14, I fell in love with it. The free expression of myself and the others felt like I am a horse, finally free on the neverending fields.

I immediately went to the Kontakt Budapest Festival in 2004. It was one of the first contact festivals in Hungary. I enjoyed it but after several days it was a little too much for me as a teenager, but that did not stop me from continue practicing.

How I started to teach and organize

I always loved to improvise. Unfortunately, I moved several times in the next years of my life, so I did not have the chance to practice much. I started to go to classes 3 years ago. After 1 year, I had to move back to my hometown, and classes are only at Budapest in Hungary, so I was afraid I might not be able to practice it again regularly.

I met Grégory (Gérgory Chévalier) on a contact jam, at the beginning of the summer, 2017. We shared a dance, and he told me I am pretty much capable of teaching contact dance. His encouragement was the final push for me. Since then, I always traveled up to jams and workshops and I started to organize classes in my hometown.

What is contact improvisation?

Contact dance improvisation is based on natural, authentic movement of the human body, giving and receiving weight of the partner through the point of contact. I define physical contact in the dance as a channel of non verbal communication and a starting point in exploring and playing with gravity in a safe place.

What is improvisation?

Improvisation, by definiton, is a contemporary dance form, which has the characteristics of postmodern dance, which has the idea that every movement is dance and every person could be a dancer. This way, in a contact dance community, everyone is welcome regardless their age, gender, identity, ability or disability.

What is a contact jam?

A contact jam is an event where dancers come together and improvise for 1-2 hours. There are different types of jams: for example there are jams with music (which is also improvised), jams without music, outdoor jams, underscore, focus jam, space/time jam… These are all about improvising movement, adding certain focus points, carefully guarding the freedom of the dancers.

 

Három Kincs Völgye, The Location

A beautiful retreat center in the countryside. The staff of the place was really nice and they were always there to help.

At first look, it may seem that it is hard to get there, but from Budapest, it is actually really simple, and the organizers sent a detailed email about how to do that. They put out signs from the bus stop to Bátonyterenye (it was me, in fact, haha :)). The walk up to the hill was a bit challenging though… but the organizers (we) could fetch your stuff or give you a lift if you called them.

The Program

The program based on 3 principles: community, research, and nature. During the application, there was an opportunity to choose from two morning intensives and two afternoon projects. After you made your choice, as the organizers, we asked people to stick with it, so they can really deepen their work. Some fellow participants wanted to make a change anyway, but we were opened for discussion and trusted that it will be fine.

In the early morning, there was the opportunity to practice an hour of yoga. During the evening, there were jams, always with a different kind of warm up. Around the half of the festival, there was a free day, which was very much welcomed by everyone. There was even a platform to research and discuss ideas (a Lab).

The festival had been closed with a performance night and a huge focus jam in Budapest, at Artus Studio. It was an opened event for anyone who would like to join, and it was a beautiful closing ritual. People were so happy to have each other, they even organized two programs to the next day: a dance in the Király Spa and a jam at Jurányi Studio.

How was the Food?

Három Kincs Völgye had an excellent cook and kitchen staff, and they made us nourishing vegan/vegetarian meals every day. There was a beautiful garden with a tea pavilion in the middle, where you could always join interesting conversations.

At the late night jams, there was even an opportunity to snack and chat in the Dining Room. I was not hungry for a second and my stomach never got upset.

Late Night Jams

The jams took place in thje Big Studio. Most of time there were a musician, Zsófi Joós, who coordinated the occasional musicians. If you felt like it, you could join in with an instrument, with noises or with your voice. Although there were many of us, we stayed sensitive to the space and the flow of the jam. Next year I would really enjoy an afternoon workshop on contact jam music, because it was really a proccess worth investigating. My personal favourite was the space/time jam on Friday. It started with a little game with the score of limited time, dancers and musicians. It was exciting to see who will dance next and how, everyone could receive attention and then the jam started with a huge wave of music and dancers moving together. On the end of the jam, there was a little party as well.

The most beautiful jam for me, although the was the closing focus jam. The focus jam means that the dancers of the jam starts together and finishes together. In the opening circle, everyone shares a little intention, focus of his/her practice, and we also share how it turned out in the closing circle. For me, this jam was the most intimate and I could open up my heart to the space, which I struggled to do. My keywords were watermelon and thunder smells like cinnamon. Cuz why not? 🙂

Atmosphere

The general athmosphere of the event was a warm breeze of enthusiasm which came with the paricipants from abroad, exactly 17 countries. They opened hearts and engaging, easy nature were harmonizing with the surroundings, and hungarians like myself soon felt comfortable around them. I was really happy to listen to so many kind of languages. My favourite conversation was with Annatina and Éve. Annatina said it is really interesting that everyone has a different landscape of contact improvisation, and we started to describe our own landscapes. She said she is in the jungle with monkeys and mangos, and whenever she sees a mango she just eats it up and swings away. Eve was describing the sky with full of clouds, you can hop on them, but don’t fly inside them, because there are crazy winds there. These beautiful, rich metaphores were fascinating.

Not just the participants but teachers themselves had a lot to do with this feeling. They did not separate themselves from anyone, you could talk and dance with them whenever you wanted to. They were kind, fun, open minded, and always eager to help in anything they could, from listening to someone’s problems to cooking dinner and cleaning up.

My experience as an organizer and as a participant

The morning intensives were either Alex Guex’s or Stéphanie Auberville’s. You could find detailed information on the website of the festival, which is still avaliable, I will put the link below. These workshops were designed for studios. On the afternoon, there were the nature projects: Nóra Hajós’s Logomotion and Sabine Fazekas and Timi Györke’s Landart Project.

I chose Stéphanie and Nóra. Although it was difficult to swich from organizer to participant, I did left enough time for myself to chill out and feel the natural attraction to join.

What do I take with myself?

Stéphanie – Refining the Foundation of the Flow

I enjoyed Stéphanie’s teaching very much, because it was really clear and responsive to the needs of the group. The beautiful outside studio, built just next to the hills, let us see the sky, the trees and we could hear the birds and the wind. You could really forget about everything and be in the moment. This is generally true to the whole festival. English was such a common language even hungarians forget about that they are hungarians, and they started to talk in english to each other. All the way of the course I felt that my knowledge of contact impro deepens with every moment, as I understand the basics in detail, and how to enter the flow of movement with more awareness and with less effort, not to act, but to let it happen. This difference is the key.

Nóra – Fantasy and Spontaneous Composition

With Nóra, a whole new field opened up to me. Logomotion is improvising dance and talking at the same time. At first look it was frigthening for me. There was one occasion I did something like that before, but it was a really intimate situation, and the memory was so strong it took me time to get over it. After I started to experiment, and following the instructions, I came to the liberating realization that I have such an interesting space of fantasy to wonder in. I came up with stories I truly loved (which is rare to me as a writer). It was fascinating to meet other dancer’s inner world, and create, inspire each other.

Another aspect of Nóra’s worskshop was composition. We had a site improv project inside the Logomotion project. That small group project were about placement, placing yourself compared to your partners in space. This simple task truly opened a whole new aspect of contact improvisation for me. I will never look at people and spaces in the same way again.

The Two Workshops Completed Each Other

This way, I had my basic knowledge deepened by Stéphanie, and I got new fields of research. Also, during the proccess of organization, I learned a lot about how to create something from nothing, which is, I believe, the most valuable for me from all. I am proud that I have my small part of realizing this dream.

Should you come next year?

As a member of a newly born organizing team, I invite you, dear reader, to come next year. If you are an experienced dancer or a total beginner, we welcome you and thinking of you. This space is opened for everyone who would like to dance, learn, share, and spend time in the nature, reconnecting with it.

As a participant, I would recommend to come as well. It is a little festival with just only 60 participants, which means charming, close community experience. It creates a noursishing, safe space to be in.

This all seem like I am painting a too perfect picture. But if you feel like it… come, see, and decide it for yourself. Let’s meet next year!

References:

www.kontaktland.com

We also have a still running crowdfunding campaign which we started to pay the teachers properly. If you have a moment, take a look at it, like it, share it, and add some financial support. It will help us to organize the next festival as well!

See the link below:

https://www.ulule.com/improvisation-festival/

Get to know the Hungarian Contact Improvisation Community at our Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/kontaktland/

Contact Improvisation Hungary:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/212296279186276/

 

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