The Melting Edge

The Melting Edge: West Australian Contact Improvisation Residential

Jan 31-Feb 4 2013 Perth, Australia

This February, thirty dancers gathered in Perth [Australia], to experience Western Australia’s first Contact Improvisation residential—The Melting Edge. Arriving on the Thursday evening in various states of excitement, exhaustion, and anticipation, the residential opened with a silent walk in single file down to the water’s edge. The three days and four nights were filled with dancing, learning, sharing, swimming and jamming together.

The Melting Edge featured guest teacher Daniel Mang (London), and interstate teachers Caterina Mocciola (Sydney), Ilan Abrahams (Melbourne), and Perth teachers and facilitators Anne Sorenson, Jacob Lehrer, Sholto Spradbury and myself, Emily Bowman.

A special thanks to everyone involved in making the event happen, especially the organising committee (Anne, Jacqui, Sholto)!

Some participants were experiencing CI for the first time, and for others it was an opportunity to deepen their practice. We had three workshops per day for three days, along with evening jams, open labs, morning contemplative movement practice on the beach, and a three-hour (down) Underscore (with a juicy long stand).

Woodman Point Camp was a spacious site surrounded by bushland. The dance space was a big wooden floored hall, with high ceilings and big windows—and it was just a hop skip and a jump from there to the beach. Dorms were private enough to take a nap in peace, with opening French doors to let in the sea breeze. There were plenty of quiet areas under the trees for reflection and shade, and an experience that sticks with us all are those magical west coast sunsets over the Indian Ocean. Yes, sand got in every corner of the dance space! We had buckets filled with water and wet towels, at the doors of all the dancing spaces to keep the sand out! Lots of sweeping and rinses throughout the day in the outdoor shower. The sand was VERY HOT! I remember catching a ride on Jacobs back, (thanks Jacob!) down to the beach one day because I forgot my thongs, caught half way down the path, I was hopping along on my towel – a few jumps at a time, until I was rescued. Some people went swimming in their socks so they could run the distance of the hot sand without burning their feet and keep them cool… The Melting Edge—in a nutshell.

 ~ Emily Bowman

All Photographs by Emily Bowman DSC_0639






The following is a collection of snapshots from the Melting Edge, the fruits of a collaborative response project between Ilan Abrahams and Emily Bowman.

Soft imprints and trails of footprints on the warm white sand. Slowly tuning into the sensations, arriving into our bodies, the group, the environment. The fresh salty taste of the ocean, the cool sea breeze passing through us, the sweet sounds of the gentle water stirring, the waves rolling, unravelling at our feet, pouring excitement through the group.

Bodies quietly rolling from front onto back and back onto front across the wooden floor in the humid and bright afternoon heat. Gently coaxed by helpers tugging at feet or hands—a rolling workshop to fill the afternoon. Others slink off to the beach for a swim.


The Underscore:

Standing and breathing and shifting and imagining others doing the same with my eyes closed, my toes and tendons at the front of my ankles tensing and releasing. Quads and calves and hamstrings switching on and off like binary counters. There is breathing, then softening. I wait for the weight of my shoulder blades to fall and sink down my back. We stand together in some kind of solidarity with our body maps and open imaginations. We stand together for a while, and then the sounds of falls and slides—the journey begins.

Time out of time. Ritual time. Everything in the now. People in concentrated play. Watching and dancing.   Opening into the spaces in between the moments. Body sensation and trajectories stimulate emotions and questions that travel (smoothly or with bumps) into life beyond the dance. Has this all been felt before, done before, said before? Fine threads from my head stretching me tall. Standing on a buoy, my feet anchored, with the feeling of being pulled deep into the sea. Experimenting with floating up and down, and falling down and up. All of me, hanging and spreading and falling and floating and rising and lengthening and balancing on two legs. Slowly it begins, one by one, I hear echoes of bodies spilling into the earth.


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