Bodyloops are large, stretchy cloth rings. In Hen/i‘s workshop we explored all different ways of playing with them. It was a 180-minute journey into myself, an escape from everyday life, where I let my body take control and left feeling energized, curious and happy. For me, embodied play workshops are about flow, freedom and interactions with other people that lead to new understandings of the ‘why’ behind our actions and reactions. In games, where nothing is at stake I can experiment freely and often they reveal sources of satisfaction, frustration and excitement.
Playing with Boundaries
I am not a person who likes restrictions. I don’t allow people to put them on me and I avoid imposing restrictions on others. That’s how I see myself. That being said, the first thing I had to do in our workshop today was put restrictions on my blindfolded partners’ movements to avoid collisions with walls or others as they danced. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it as I explored new way to communicate spatial limits through sound and dancing together. Her unexpected and fast movements introduced stress into my instructions whereas her slower movements brought an ease of communication which made it easier for me to protect and her to be protected. She enjoyed the softer way that I described the boundaries, as in life, restrictions are about communication.
When it was my turn to dance blindfolded I immediately felt unhappy and frustrated with the limits but as the exercise evolved into a game with a time limit I started to enjoy myself. The limitations provided structure and an impulse to explore new movements within the confined space. Note to self: play with restrictions as they can evolve into a source of fun and creativity.
Next exercise: Find a partner, choose some random objects and arrange them. The result? An insight into your own patterns of behaviour.
My partner goes too fast, he isn’t arranging the objects how I would like. Later on, I find out he was not happy neither. What is the solution? Dialogue, but without words. We begin to understand each other and find a speed that works for both of us. We create scenes and stories. We make a stage and choreograph a small piece of theatre. We improvise, there is only ‘Yes and….’ to keep the flow. It feels so good to create together and despite, or rather because of, the earlier miscommunication I know it wouldn’t have been as fun or satisfying if it was me alone.
We named these arrangements „Trip to the Beach,“ „Best Friends,“ and „A Crime Scene.“
In the workshop we played with everyday objects, toys and bodyloops. In solo and group exercises I played, danced, created shapes, created chaos, brought order. Sometimes I felt awkward and other times I felt confident. Writing this statement I wanted to say ‘we’ but the workshop emphasised the importance of not assuming you know how others feel, and what they want in any given situation.
After the first exercise with the bodyloops ‘A’ was overwhelmed with too many options, ‘B’ felt stuck, ‘C’ felt a bit lost and I was enjoying the freedom to move.
During the second exercise when we arranged the objects ‘D’ wanted more calmness whereas ‘E’ wanted to make noise and destroy everything. ‘E’ had the confidence to destroy a part of the play where ‘F’ wanted to, but wasn’t daring enough to make that decision.
Later on we found out that , ’G’ felt creative and daring in the group, where ‘H’ felt less pressure and more creativity on their own. ‘I’ loved creating shapes with the bodyloops and ‘J’ loved getting tangled up.
One of the funniest moments during the discussion about our common creation was when ‘K’ said they really enjoyed our unanimous agreement on a puppet being the cen- trepiece. This puppet was a doll, a king smoking a cigarette. Most of us hadn’t even noticed there was a centrepiece, let alone that it was a smoking king!
Embodied play leads to these moments of light hearted reflection and realisation and reminds me to never assume you know how people think.
We finish the workshop with a bodyloops jam — chaos and harmony, uncertainty and strong impulses to move, moments of boredom. For me, laughter and silliness prevail.
I even manage to embrace the awkward not knowing. I don‘t want it to end; I want to keep playing and creating. The unexpected beauty and good feelings that arise during moments of symbiosis or shared creation within the group are immensely satisfying. I am in a ‘flow state’. Playing a game, moving, creating something can induce this state of being where you are in the moment, in the zone, and this feeling and positivity stays with you even after the moment has passed. We should play more, all the time.
Later that same day, I had an extremely funny and silly night with a friend. I was more playful after the class. I just followed the wants of my body without over-thinking. Authentic movement is possible outside the container, too. It’s so rich to bring play in all aspects of life.
I want to express my gratitude to all participants and the facilitator Hen/i for their play- fulness, authentic reflections, and openess to capture some moments on film.
Brenda Akele Jorde is a circus pedagogue and documentary film maker. She takes laughter and play seriously that’s why she volunteers as a clown with the Flying Seagulls.
Workshop with Hen/i