Tag Archives: Nonverbal dialogue

The Wisdom of Movement, Song and Story: A DwD Workshop in InterPlay

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Last February 11, Rehana Telpara guided a smaller group of DwD session participants in hybrid forms of reflective play call Interplay. Rehana introduced herself as an InterPlay leader in training, with more modesty than necessary led us through a series of exercises that awakened the playfulness in everyone there. Emotional interactions occurred and we left more relaxed, connected with one another and aware that we had shared an experience with everyone in the room at a meaningful level.

We began with a series of gibberish vocalizations that engaged us all in uttering and attending to what initially seemed out of context, content free nonsense. Seemed, but wasn’t really. Rehana who is clearly one of this world’s genuine seekers, brought us face to face (literally) with the simple truth: whenever someone interacts, however loosely, with another, communication happens.

Following reflection, we moved into movement in pairs, suspending an imaginary beam of energy between each other while carefully moving. This activity continued into a journey around the room inspired by the music being played. We moved from this activity into more personal explorations through floor based movement. We then convened and had a dialogue about the experiences, which sparked a number of interesting reflections by participants, making connections to personal events and fields of psychology some had been exploring. We finished the session with the group harmonizing our voices, an activity that had a spiritual quality, and ended the session beautifully.

During the session we learnt of Rehana’s own journey to Interplay, through a trip in the Himalayas where a gentle woman named Neesha described this systematic, yet spontaneous approach to basic dialogue that connects without confronting the other. Again, as the DwD website announcement explains, we need to recover that ability lurking mischievously dormant in all of us: “to laugh, savor and relax.” Interplay’s own website, www.interplay.org gives a fuller picture of the process we sampled at DwD.

In InterPlay, we pause to notice our physical experience. One thing we notice is that affirmation (versus critique) produces more of what we want! We often invite people to witness others or to be witnessed as they practice an InterPlay form. In InterPlay, witnessing means, first, noticing my own physical experience as I watch and listen and, second, affirming the person I have witnessed by telling them my own physical experience in just a few words or images. There are two reasons for this: 1) Most people find at least one of the forms we teach to be pushing the envelope of what they think they can do. When they are witnessed doing it and affirmed doing it, they begin to experience themselves as actually able to do it. If that were all (achieving some internal sense that I am able to do something I could not do before), it would not be enough, but it isn’t all. I have seen over and over again how people actually blossom in this process. They seem magically to create works of beauty and power that were unimaginable earlier. 2) Equally important, the witness has an experience of his or her own.  Tom Henderson, “How Interplay Can Help Your Organization”

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the object it loves” – Carl Jung

 ABOUT THE HOST

rehana

Rehana Tejpar is a mother, dancer, theatre artist and community arts facilitator dedicated to staging stories of social importance, and evoking community dialogue. Using popular education, Theatre of the Oppressed and Art of Hosting techniques, she has been designing curriculum and facilitating leadership programs with young women, children and youth in Canada, Kenya and India for the past 10 years. Since 2011 she has been playing with InterPlay and is currently a leader in training. She is an active performance artist in dance-theatre and is currently working on Eventual Ashes’ Ocean Carving: A Performance in Water, to be performed in the 2015 Rhubarb Festival.

Rehana and her colleague, Agnotti Cowie have scheduled a three day “untensive,” they call “Unlocking the Wisdom of Your Body: Toronto InterPlay Art and Social Change” March 27 – 29, 2015. For more information, contact: rehana.tejpar@gmail.com

Action Methods and Dramatic Expression: Finding your Role in Community Engagement

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November 2014 DwD hosted over 25 participants. After introductions, Stephen Sillett cleared the space and everyone got on their feet and we positioned ourselves on a simple Spectrogram, an highly versatile Action Sociometry method. Think of the Spectrogram as a graph on the floor, in this case, one end represented being very comfortable participating in the session and the other end representing, not at all comfortable. We were invited to stand in the position that best represented how we felt at that moment. We then starting a drama activity, with the whole group milling around the room, shifting our attention from the spaces opening up on the floor and stepping into them, to the other bodies in the room, and finally to greeting other participants as they moved around the room. We continued milling, and started to follow 2 people in the room, we then attempted to place ourselves equidistant between the 2 people we were following, then slowed down until the group came to a stable arrangement. This was a interesting activity, with shifting in dynamics. After the activity, all the participants reflected on the experience by again positioning themselves on the Spectrogram and then observing any personal or collective shifts regards comfort levels.

We next experienced some exercises from the world of physical theatre, looking at how personal and social space relates to perceptions of power, and how we interact with that in non-verbal ways. While exploring these activities, participants were asked to stay alive to the experience, and reflect on how it may relate to engaging people in community conversations.

Part 1. Shared inquiry: How can we involve people more fully in Community Dialogue?

Participants split into break-out groups, and a shared inquiry into what it might mean to bring the “whole person” into community dialogue began. The inquiry raised questions about definitions of the “whole person”. Does this refer to the physical and mental aspects of a person? What other aspects, could/should be included?

We then formed a large circle, and shared some points raised in the shared inquiry. Here are a few:

  • How cultural aspects of the person always exist during our engagement – either visibly or invisibly.
  • Values are always present at some level during our community engagement.
  • Challenges exist in online communications, as this limits how much the “whole person” can be engaged in group conversations.
  • We always marginalise certain aspects of ourselves when we engage, and this changes in different contexts.
  • A state in which the “whole person” is engaged, can never be fully attained.
  • Body scanning and meditation practice, can help bring the body into the space, and deepen engagement.

We ended this part of the session creating a Locogram, another Action Sociometry exercise (see The Living Stage for more info.). Participants engaged the exercise by reflecting on a particular situation, during which they were trying to deepen conversations. They then positioned themselves relative to a central point in the room, having done this we created body images to convey our thoughts and emotions from recounting that experience. This exercise was not unpacked, as we needed to take a break and prepare for part 2 of the session.

Summary: Part 1 of session helped participants experience:

  • Approaches that build community trust and release communication barriers.
  • Multiple perspectives regards how we engage with each other.
  •  Two simple yet powerful, Action Sociometry methods

Part 2. Strategic Action Fields

While the first part of the session worked through established methods, the 2nd involved Interactive Scenography, an innovation that Stephen and ADCID have been working on in their InFusion Lab sessions. For this part, participants were invited to take a performative journey, into a single Strategic Action Field (SAF) of their choosing. This was a personal journey, with others present and simultaneously creating their SAF at the same time. There was no external audience for this performative act, everyone was participating in the creation and exploration process. Participants created their field, explored it, and looked to discover what this may mean to them. Photo elicitation and fabric was used to help each participant to individually enter into a dialogue with the space, and generate a landscape of understanding. This was a shallow dive into what would normally be a longer, even multi-day process.

The goals for this final activity was more open. One outcome was that the activity provided an experimental insight into working with this emerging process. Another was to give a sense of ADCID’s approach to complex work across Fields of Strategic Action, and spark insights among those present. Stephen would like to thank all those who took the plunge into this activity, and appreciates all the feedback received after the session from members of the DwD community.

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Background: Through his years of practice in international development and collaborating with local community-based organizations, Stephen and ADCID  have found these processes very useful. They have been used to shift the relationships and dynamics that local Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) have with marginalised populations they serve. When working on projects in Africa and Canada, Stephen finds this depth of group inquiry to be particularly relevant to long-term, capacity focussed projects..

About the Host

ssillett

Stephen Sillett is co-executive director of Aiding Dramatic Change in Development (ADCID), and helps the organization research, facilitate and direct dialogue, drama and art processes for healing and community development. Through ADCID projects and in partnership with other social actors, he is exploring approaches that engage community members in conversations, consciously orientated to maturing visions of the future. Research interests include the facilitation of non-verbal and spatial meaning-making practices within group workshop and the creation of interactive performance. He directs InFusion Labs where theatre artists, therapists, scientists and social practitioners explore spatial approaches to exploration and discovery.

ADCID’s community-driven approach, has evolved over 10 years in rural South Africa through:

  • Peer Influence workshops in Schools across Ingwavuma, South Africa – supported by Health Canada
  • Water and Sanitation project in rural South Africa supported by Oxfam Australia . Large-Group community dialogue and reflective Inquiry process using Socio-Drama Topography.

ADCID has also been focussing on 2 areas of engagement with communities in Canada.

  • CrossGEN: Connecting across Age and Culture. Connecting newcomers with long-term residents to form networks that can inform service provision and innovate ways to deepen interactions in our public spaces. Supported by Ontario Trillium Foundation.
  • Imagining Possibilities a project with communities with communication and complex physical disabilities to participate in a community arts journey and engage with others through story creation and performance. Supported by Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council.

Exploring the Neuroscience of Peak Performance

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Bodies, Brains & Peak Performance in the Workplace

How do we reach a flow state and perform at our best?  How might we enhance self-awareness of our capacity to perform at peak?

Reaching peak performance at work is not just about having high-tech systems and efficient processes in place, but about how we engage with our bodies, brains, and their fluctuating states throughout the day.

The September DwD drew about 25 people to Theresa Cooke’s exploration of these questions with a group of designers, grad students, business leaders and professionals. She delved into some of the key factors in tuning our bodies and brains for peak performance based on recent findings from social psychology and neuroscience. With a combination of theory and interactive explorations, we learned how we perform in high-pressure situations, and how the brain’s strong response to social threat and reward affects our performance in common workplace situations.

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Sketchnotes by Patricia Kambitsch
  (Complete set on Slow Learning)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Host

Theresa Cooke holds a doctorate in Neural & Behavioural Sciences from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Germany, and a B.A.Sc. in Systems Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo. She currently works at Siemens Canada as Director of Strategy for the Energy Sector, and in her spare time, cultivates her interest in the connections between neuroscience, leadership and health.

tcooke In 2012, Theresa became a certified coach with the Coaches Training Institute and completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training at Downward Dog Yoga Studio in Toronto.

On Building Culture through Participatory Design

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Guest post by Leah Snyder of Mixed Bag Mag

When Gelareh Saadatpajouh, Programs Coordinator at Toronto Design Offsite set out to facilitate Design with Dialogue’s TO DO session she decided to have our group explore, as she puts it:

“Design processes, where plurality of indeterminate factors is approached together and in an ongoing manner, and where designers become adept in handling the growing complexity in both materials of their craft and their position in the world.”

Increasingly designers are being called upon to search their souls in order to create with meaning. In a world exhausted by consumer culture and in desperate need of cultural revision we as designers can play a key role. As Gelareh got us up and activated with an exercise where we mimed our way of working it was clear why design thinking is so adaptable across platforms, disciplines and cultures. For as many people as were in the room there was a different design process. As we later shared our revelations from watching each other I realized that my own design process is also adaptable to where I am in my life’s journey and can shift when I have a renewed way of interacting with my world.

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For over a decade my creation happened in isolation. Working with clients to design promotional tools and branding strategy there would be a two-way dialogue with the client after which I would go inside to then create something that would ultimately reach out. After another exercise where we were directed to find a design process action then go out into the group with that action to mingle I realized that my process has radically shifted. Now my first step is to reach out. I start by engaging in multi-directional dialogue, sometimes with other designers, but more often than not those dialogues are with people from many different walks of life. Sometimes those dialogues occur at street corners, even with strangers. I design as I walk, I process as I talk.

More and more I see others who design programs or products, ad campaigns or architecture instinctively, like me, reach out first as the point from which to start. As Design Week in Toronto demonstrated there is a community expanding around the questions “What is design?” and “Can we as designers contribute to modeling a new type of world?”. The idea of the collective is now being understood as the base from which we need to grow ideas. At a time when we require it the most the spirit of collaboration has motivated designers into taking more radical positions. The result –  fertile ground in which we see new materials and new models rapidly sprout.

For the last part of the workshop Gelareh had us break out into small groups “guided by a designer who shared something of their design, resulting in new “artifacts” that were then constructed through brainstorming, creative discussions, and active participation throughout the design process.”

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On the street, a few days later, I randomly bumped into someone whose group I was in. I was able to ask her if the exercise we did on her project was helpful to her. Did it result in a new “artifact” for her work? The answer –  an enthusiastic yes! And as we walked up to the street corner together, before going our separate ways, we continued to design as we walked and process as we talked.

 

Dialogue with Clowns

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February 2011 DwD featured nonverbal participatory social presence, led by Heidi Madsen (Columbus, Ohio), Elsa Lam (Dzieci Theatre Troupe), and Patricia Kambitsch (Playthink).

Some of the exercises required attentive listening beyond hearing. Dexter Ico captures Four Clowns at  Bus Stop, performed here by all participants. The “lead clown” is given a scenario, the others, without peeking, peripherally pick up on the behavior and act the part until they all, somehow, learn together the scenario without it ever having been communicated. This is as funny as it sounds …