Reflections w/ the Dance Artists: Part 1

How do you experience dance as a contemplative practice? How do you experience KYL/D’s CHI Awareness as a contemplative practice?

Exploring the definition of contemplation and contemplative practices, I found that the common theme is/was intention. Intention drives Kun-Yang’s vision during the creative process. Sometimes, as in the case of ONE: Immortal Game or Santuario - which is being performed at the University of Indiana, PA this week, the intention revolves around our responses to events and the environments in which they transpire. Other times, such as in KYL/D’s Open Company CHI Awareness Practice on Saturdays, the intention is focused on developing an awareness of other people in the space and on discovering individual, internal movement pathways.

Faith Project is revealing CHI Awareness - KYL/D's longstanding practice - not only as a training system, but as a vessel through which to engage in community building and self-discovery. I asked the dance artists to reflect on their individual experiences of contemplative practice, during the process, and how they experience KYL/D’s CHI Awareness Practice as contemplation. In their own words:

“Dance is a moving meditation.” - Evalina Carbonell

Photo: Mike Hurwitz

Photo: Mike Hurwitz

“Dance is a moving meditation. It requires one hundred percent presence in the moment. In this elevated state, we experience ourselves fully as energetic beings.  We are in touch with that which makes us alive. Being in touch with our own life force and then having the ability to connect that energy with our world and the beings in it, is at the core of sustaining any contemplative practice. CHI Awareness is using that principle and applying it to our dancing minds and thinking bodies.” ~ Evalina “Wally” Carbonell

“It is a connection between my inside energy and outside energy.” - Weiwei Ma

Photo: Mike Hurwitz

Photo: Mike Hurwitz

“I really enjoy (dance) as a contemplative practice. I felt my mind and body was so calm and sensitive. As a dancer, I usually focus my movements. Over time, my physical body is not sensitive enough, and lost the meaning of moving, so that I had technique but little expression. I can really focus my mind and body in contemplative (dance) practice. I felt I’m a part of whole universe, my mind became freedom, and the same time I forgot I was dancing, because my physical body and mind went into an unlimited environment.  

I think it is difficult to explain CHI Awareness, but I can feel CHI Awareness is a relationship between my own body and environment when I’m dancing. So they have a connection between CHI Awareness and contemplative practice. Contemplative practice is good entrance to CHI Awareness. Contemplative practice could help me to go back to a natural state of motion. I could clearly experience how to move in a space, even experience my breath flow in my body. In other words, contemplative practice is a good way to experience how to move mind and body in a space. CHI Awareness makes me feel an aureole effect as contemplative practice. When I realized how much big the world is and how much small I am in contemplative practice, I enjoyed exploring how to open my mind and release my body. So my body or my movements started changing. I think this changing came from my moving of energy. It is a connection between my inside energy and outside energy. I did not only focus body, I brought my body to environment. I felt I am small, but actually my energy is getting bigger and bigger in a space. So I call that it is an aureole effect.” ~ Weiwei Ma

Readers, I invite you to join us for one of Kun-Yang’s open company classes. Have you experienced a class or a KYL/D performance? How do you experience CHI Awareness Practice?

~ Jessica Warchal-King

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Major support for the Faith project has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.