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Simplifying Selecting Partners

by Ken Manheimer last modified Aug 29, 2023 11:28 AM
The CI exercises I describe involve selecting partners. Trying the exercises with different partners is often illuminating. I like to use a kind of non-competitive "musical chairs" approach to simplify and foster ease in the partner selection process.

Many contact improv exercises involve choosing a partner, and it is often illuminating to try each exercise with different partners to see how and how much the experience can vary. Here's a simple recipe for simplifying the partner selection process and mixing things up.

Ask everyone to walk around the room, circulating rather than sticking with someone. Ask them to how they feel what else they're noticing while they're circulating. When you feel ready (or you feel that the situation is ready) ask everyone to choose someone who is nearby for their partner in the next exercise. Allow a moment for everyone to resolve their choices. You as leader need to see whether you will participate with a partner, depending on if there is an even or odd number present.

The aim is not to suprise or trick anyone with this approach. You can describe what you're doing as you do it. It doesn't totally simplify the process of choosing partners – they may still need to grapple with reluctances and affinities when accepting or refusing a pairing. But it can reduce the "preciousness" of each selection, cultivating a sense of ease, opportunity, and even equanimity in any selection.

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