In KYL/D’s second Story Circle, many of the community participants referenced contemplative rituals. Our facilitator, Kimerer LaMothe explored ideas of movement as ritual and spiritual practice in her article, “Why Practice Repeating Ordinary Bodily Movements?”
Through this blog, I seek to break open some of the language used to describe the practice of religion and KYL/D’s experience of contemporary dance. Earlier, I explored definitions of spirituality. The second story circle prompted me to explore: what is contemplation? What makes a contemplative practice?
a) a concentration on spiritual things as a form of private devotion; a state of mystical awareness of God’s being. b) an act of considering with attention; study. c) the act of regarding steadily. d) intention, expectation. (from Merriam-webster.com)
a) thoughtful observation. b) full or deep consideration; reflection. c) purpose or intention. d) prospect or expectation. (from Dictionary.com)
a) the action of looking thoughtfully at something for a long time. b) deep reflective thought. c) the state of being considered or planned. d) religious meditation. e) a form of Christian prayer or meditation in which a person seeks to pass beyond mental images and concepts to a direct experience of the divine. (from English Oxford Living Dictionaries)
a) a calm, lengthy, intent consideration. b) a long and thoughtful observation (from Vocabulary.com)
So, it would follow that a contemplative practice is the repeated exercise or performance of a contemplative act. From the story circle, examples of these acts were: chanting, singing, walking, kneeling, embracing, meditating, engaging in silent/ personal prayer and/ or reflection, and speaking text particular to a religion in unison with the community gathered.
All of the definitions reference “intention”. Kun-Yang often speaks of the importance of intention. Without intention, movement can be anything. But its impulse/intention is what allows an audience to connect with the dance artist and the work. In rehearsals, Kun-Yang continues to mine and develop this intention with the dance artists. Cultivating intention is a unique element of KYL/D’s CHI Awareness Practice.
By guiding this focused intention, Kun-Yang also creates an environment in which the artists can grow as a collective. This community is evident on stage and I’ve always been impressed with the way Kun-Yang fosters this connection within the diversity of the company. An example of Kun-Yang’s guidance, intention, and CHI Awareness Practice manifested on stage is “ONE: Immortal Game”. In this work, Kun-Yang takes inspiration from the game of chess as a contemplative practice (used by military generals and monks). See for yourself by clicking on the video below:
In watching ONE, how do you experience this sense of intention? How does the movement in ONE reflect your own engagement in contemplative practices? What is your practice of choice? Please share!
~ Jessica Warchal-King
NOTE: To make a comment on this blog, you do not need to make an account- just click "Comment(s)" in bottom left hand corner, write your comment in the comment box that appears, click "Post Comment..." then type in your first and last name and click "Comment as Guest")
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.