The world is becoming increasingly more connected, but we seldom reflect on the nature of connection in itself. What does it mean to be in contact? How does it feel from inside? What does it look like? In this photographic work, contact dance is used to explore the nature of connection as one’s ability to embrace another “I”, while at the same time being in genuine contact with one’s own “I”.
Contact improvisation is a contemporary dance form in which two or more people are improvising around a point of contact. My first encounter with contact improvisation was in 2007 and I was immediately enchanted by the relaxed and playful authenticity that characterized the dance.
As the next move is never known in advance, the dancer can only mindfully experience the dance as it emerges, listening inwards and acting outwards at the same time. In this way, the dancers are participating in a shared co-creation while simultaneously dancing one’s own dance. The purpose of this photographic work is to share that experience with people who would not dance themselves.
The photographs were taken on Arambol Beach in Goa (IND) where hundreds of contact improvisation dancers gather every year. Twenty-five photo sessions were made from January to March 2017 with more than fifty dancers and in total over 10 000 pictures were shot.
Before shooting, I started to dance together with the dancers holding the camera in my hand. When I exited the physical formation and started to take pictures, I continued to move with my camera together with the dancers. A dynamic and improvised dance emerged where no one of us knew what the next move would be or from what position the subsequent picture would be taken. Here, 100 photographs provide glimpses into that process as the photographs are forming crystallized points of contact with the dance itself.
I am a photographer, a dancer, and a researcher at the Stockholm School of Economics focusing on leadership, organization, and inner development. Moving seamlessly between different worlds, I allow different modes of knowing and being to be integrated. Here, I have allowed these roles to come together as one. This project relates to my research article “When work becomes meditation” (2017), in which I studied how meditating managers re-connect with themselves and respond to work situations with authenticity.
It can also be seen as a continuation of my photographic work “In the Leap of Faith” (2013) where I explored participants’ trust in relation to movement and “Dansmånad” (2009), in which I studied dancers’ bodily expressions on stage over three years. In this project, I have left the role of a distant observer to become a participant of the dance, co-creating the pictures together with the dancers.
A large number of people from all over the world have contributed to this project and I feel so much gratitude for having gotten (and taken) the opportunity to carry out this project. First of all, I would like to thank the amazing dancers who participated in the photo sessions: Abhilash Ningappa (IND) – Aditya Sasidharan (IND) – Anjelika Doniy (RUS) – Baptiste Sejourne (FRA) – Camille Pierre Behaghel (FRA) – Catherine Caraker (USA) – Daniele Sardella (ITA) – DaniellAlnuma Alter (ISR) – Ditte Green-Petersen (SWE) – Dolores Dewhurst Marks (GBR) – Eevi Tolvanen (FIN) – Elliott Ford (GBR) – Genevieve Simone Luicien (IND) – Guru Suraj (IND) – Hugh Stanier (GBR) – Irene Sposetti (ITA) – Jasmine Khan (SWE) – Johanne Hofseth (NOR) – Klara Wenner Tångring (SWE) – Linda Bottolfs (NOR) – Maanee Christel Joy (AUS) – Matthieu Azul (FRA) – Maviee Mav (IDN) – Max Lundqvist (SWE) – Maya Wuytack (BEL) – Mileen Borgonjon (BEL) – Pau Seguí Barber (ESP) – Pilar Echavarria (COL) – Rafael Zielinski (POL) – Sergio Palomares Vicente (ESP) – Swapna Shree (IND) – Sören Wacker (GER) – Ulli Wittemann (GER) – Vega Luukkonen (FIN) – Viola Othilie Tømte (NOR) – Wei Xie (CHN) – Xenia Isaeva (RUS) – Zuzanna Bukowski (GER).
Thanks also to Volker Eschmann and the team behind the Goa Contact Festival for creating this opportunity as well as for all the encouragement and support before, during, and after the event. Special thanks to Sören Wacker who captured a few photographs of the project in the making.
Finally, I would like to thank Johan Nilsson, Hanna Wetterstrand and Irene Sposetti with whom it all started. Thanks for being my first teachers and great sources of inspiration and learning when I started to dance and began to reflect upon these issues.
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