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Kerstin Kussmaul Eligible Member // Teacher
IDOCs » The magic of cognitive midwifery: An “inside view” on embodied creativity in Contact Improvisation and other movement skills
This fundamental research is firmly grounded in practitioners’ expertise and describes principles of improvisation and creativity in relationship to motor control and decision making process in Contact Improvisation, Argentinian Tango and Aikido. We share our current state of process with a focus on CI, physical examples and open a round for discussion that includes some implications of our findings.
2016.02.26

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Proposal IDOCDE Symposium 4
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- FULL NAME: Michael Kimmel, Kerstin Kussmaul, Dayana Hristova, Christine Irran (?)
- PHONE NUMBER: (0043 1) 8109050
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- TITLE OF THE ACTIVITY:

The magic of cognitive midwifery: An “inside view” on embodied creativity in Contact Improvisation and other movement skills

Joint body-improvisation show human abilities at their most complex and inspire important academic questions about what the notion of skill means. The presentation and discussion will give insight in an ongoing three-year research project called Embodied Creativity in Dyadic Improvisation. Standing at the forefront of cognitive science research, our project uses video-based elicitation methods to understand best practices and the variety of “context-savvy” strategies used by seasoned improvisers in pair dance and martial arts. These skills  thrive on interactive touch and kinesthesia; they are self-acknowledged improvisations or demand “biting the improvisational bullet” for higher achievement and awareness. By working with improvisers in the their natural habitat - yet with a little difference to ethnographers staying in the background - our aim is to tap into the experts’ first and second person (=dialogic) viewpoint for a thick description of particular moments.

This year’s project focus lies on contact improvisation and so our examples will stem mainly from that area. We will showcase several key moments of duet dances  to inquire into somatosensory skills and principles of moment-to-moment joint decision making. Our presentation uses concrete examples,of what happens and the sensations and embodied thoughts occurring at the same time. With this, we will advance theoretical core concepts of a general theory of embodied creativity. And we will round them off with considerations for practitioners, advance methodologies for teaching dance, notably by encouraging embodied self-reflection by playing particular “games” we have invented.

We have piloted methods of thinking-aloud while practicing together or between movement bouts. The researchers - acting as midwives, as it were - guide the duet’s awareness in a way that facilitates entering deeply into joint embodied experience. Special interviewing methods from empirical phenomenology are used for this. Additionally, the research team may encourage one dancer to introduce slight perturbations and changes their partner is then challenges to assimilate. Experimenting with forms and dynamics in this particular fashion is, for example, helpful to see (a) how a well-coordinated interpersonal system maintains its stability with slightly different synergistic solutions when the situation changes slightly and (b) to what point an ideal dynamic pattern coming under duress can be salvaged before it becomes more advisable for the expert to change course.

The range of questions brought up in think-alouds includes how dancers achieve situation awareness, how they manage to remain just open and flexible enough whilst maintaining the necessary self-structuration to be safe and sufficiently unambiguous, how possible continuations are ascertained through active touch and exploratory movement (or actively created through appropriate micro-actions), and how temporary complexity-reducing “anchors” such as muscle chains between two bodies can be used to facilitate interaction. Our inquiry’s constant undercurrent is how creativity arises in such highly skill- and awareness-demanding settings: For example, we investigate how not knowing what the dance partner or yourself might do will affect the dance - or if there even is a “not knowing” and how much your more extended bodily dynamic itself determines your preferences. Or, how experts cleverly prime the pair system to surprise themselves in a way they will gladly pick up on, yet cannot anticipate. Or, how sketchy inspirations one person might have in mind for the upcoming dance sequence become adapted to the unplannable contingencies of the moment as they go along. Or, what specific circumstances make “ready-made” solutions preferable which both dancers know in advance...

To sum up, our research is firmly grounded in the practitioner’s first-person experience, yet  finds a suitable level of abstraction to express general insights about improvisational creativity as well as how such abilities tie in with the demands of motor control, safety, remaining poised, having rapport and exchanging sufficient information. The academic background we build on lies in exciting recent developments in embodied, extended, and enactive cognition research, a burgeoning field that is finally coming of age and offers a fresh outlook on how the mind relates to the body.







- SUMMARY OF CONTENT DESCRIPTION (max 60 words; for publishing)  

This fundamental research is firmly grounded in practitioners’ expertise and describes principles of improvisation and creativity in relationship to motor control and decision making process in Contact Improvisation, Argentinian Tango and Aikido.

We share our current state of process with a focus on CI, physical examples and open a round for discussion that includes some implications of our findings.



                                                                                                                                                                         
- SHORT BIOGRAPHY (max 60 words for publishing (if co-taught all in all max 60 words)
Michael Kimmel (will be completed soon)
Kerstin Kussmaul is a dance practitioner, researcher and somatic movement educator. She is PhD candidate at the University of Auckland.
Dayana Hristova (will be completed soon)


- AIMED AT WHO (AND HOW MANY PEOPLE MIN /MAX?)
Anyone interested in cognitive science and dance
No Min/Max
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-  TIME REQUEST:   1.5 or better 2 hours                                                                                                                 - TECH NEED: Projector                                                                                                                                                -  SPACE NECESSITY (studio size etc): dance studio
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Thanks!!!                                                                                               


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