Thursday, November 30, 2006

“Love Your Body Week”, planned by the UW Women’s Centre, included a number of fun and informative events for students. There was a film night, a yoga class, a contact dance workshop, a seminar with a naturopath, information booths, a sex toy workshop, bust casting, and a belly dancing class. One of the events I attended was the contact dance workshop. What in the heck is contact improv? I hear you asking, curious and inquiring. I didn’t really know before I went to the workshop either, and I admit, I was a bit apprehensive that it would be totally weird and awkward. “Contact improvisation is a dance with gravity, momentum, and everything else that is happening in the moment, including the physical and energetic contact the dance-partners share. It is a whole-body study in the subtle art of non-verbal collaboration and co-creation. Often a meditative practice, improvisation is done without music, to allow space to tune into what is happening and the moment-to-moment impulses of the body.” (
At the workshop we started by plopping down on the floor and becoming aware of our breath. The leader suggested we think of our bodies as a bag of sand, and picture the grains of sand shifting with our breath. We slowly started to move more until we were all up moving around the room, still keeping the idea of sand and weight in our minds. Then we were asked to become aware of how others were moving around us, and start to make eye contact. Eventually we began to make contact with one another. We did an exercise where we pressed our hand or shoulder into a partner and tried to give and take the same amount of weight from one another. And then feel the weight of a partner as we moved through the room together.
Going into the workshop, I was a bit nervous and reserved. It seemed kind of weird and new age (even for someone who’s into yoga and other hippy, earth-mother activities). Dance around with no music and make almost full body contact with complete strangers? Sounds awkward. But by the end of the two-hour workshop I felt completely different. I felt aware of my body and how it moved and felt. I felt comfortable and calm, and even fulfilled in a strange way. Where did this sense of fulfillment come from? I think a lot of it came from the collaboration, contact and touch that I shared with the other participants of the workshop. Even living at a friendly place like Grebel I often go through an entire day and only make physical contact with several people (hugs from a few friends) and other days maybe no one. This doesn’t seem healthy or natural for me. Maybe I’m not reaching my “contact quota”. I felt fulfilled by the safety, trust and friendship created in the space of the contact improv workshop. I think a lot of the fulfillment I felt came from the physical contact and touch in the dance.
After the workshop I was talking to a friend about how it seems that sometimes people rush into romantic relationships when they might not be ready for one. They might jump in simply because they’re craving physical contact and intimacy. Relationships that are formed only on a physical basis can be unfulfilling. (insert witty joke about safe sex here) There might be healthier alternatives, you could start giving free hugs like that guy in Australia, or maybe embrace the new age and try some contact improv.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The perfect cup of tea on a cold dreary evening.....
Rooibos red tea with lemongrass, cinnamon, vanilla, and fresh ginger (loose leaf of course)

Plus it's got so many faboulous health benefits!:
Rooibos tea contains no colors, additives or preservatives, making it a natural beverage. It contains no caffeine. According to studies conducted in South Africa and Japan Rooibos has been shown to aid in health problems such as insomnia, irritability, headaches, nervous tension, and hypertension.
In South Africa Rooibos has been used to treat allergies such as hay fever, asthma and eczema very effectively .

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My morning squeel!
I just got this message from beth- i'm so excited i can hardly hold my squeeeellllll in -but i have to because my roommates are still sleeping- so i'll just spread my excitement to you! ( SIAO is a HUGE international art festival/show/sale in Ouagadougou. Papiers is the women's cooperative I volunteered with for a year when I was studying in Burkina Faso.)


Here's some wonderful news to cheer you up: Papiers WON a MAJOR prize at the SIAO this year!!! We got the news on Saturday that we won the Celtel-sponsored prize of 1,000,000 fcfa! The women are delighted, to put it mildly. The prize was presented at a big dinner on Saturday night. We only got one entry ticket and the women kindly insisted that I represent them. So, I got to be on Burkinabé TV. Very amusing!
Now we have a couple of big certifucates and a check for a million cfas! It's really the acheivement of a dream for all of us. The time you spent with the women and all you have done for them played a big part in making it happen. So, congratulations to you!

And the best thing is that this prize has drawn the attention of the Village Artisanale. The Directrice visited the stand and made an appointment to visit Papiers. So, it seems almost certain that the women are going to get a place at the Village! If that happens, the women are going to gave access to not only a wider public, but also all kinds of training. It will be just the boost the project needs to survive my departure in 2008. I really can't ask for more.
This issue has been in my prayers in the last few months and I am feeling overwhelmed by blessings now!

The women will each get a small cash bonus, but most of the prize money will be reserved in order to install a nice store/workshop at the Village Artisanale.

I hope this news brightens your day!

sure has!!!! here are some photos of the booth...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

it's snowing here, pretty from the window, but it's hard to motivate yourself bundle up and get out the door for class. i wish i could join my pops in florida and sit on the beach tomorrow with joe's book. but alas, this weekend i shall continue to read till my eyes bulge out of their sockets and start working on my major research paper of the term for my anthropological theory course- that, i'm actually not dreading. i'm writing about the "feminist critique" theories in anthropology and comparing them to "feminist political ecology". if my paper turns out to be interesting and comprehensible, then i may just post it for my lucky readers.

to start my weekend off, i'm doing a photo shoot tomorrow. my photography assignment is to study and try to recreate the style of a black and white photographer that interests us. we shoot a couple rolls, chose 5 to print and then do a presentation to the class of the photographer's bio and work along with our attempt to recreate their style.
the photographer i have chosen is Imogen Cunningham (isn't imogen- which my prof tells me is pronounced im-i-gin, an appropriate name!). she one of the first well known women in photography (early 20th century- contemporary of Ansel Adams, Weston, Stieglitz and the like). Cunningham is best know for her work with plants, but i'm recreating her body of work on the (nude) body. it's surprisingly easy to find friends to model for you when most of your friends are members of the Womyn's Centre and heading up the "love your body week" on campus or are in fine art classes themselves.

Anyways, here are some of imogen's images that i admire. i find the shapes and shadows she creates with the body beautiful.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Under the Sea Everything's Better........

Guess who won the costume competition?!!!