Nakedness: Contact improvisation dance as a vehicle for exploring nudity


“The body as a vehicle for devotion. That’s what I am interested in.”

“The medicine of the mirrors and the reflection….Seeing people exploring the question, “How can I be more naked in my life?”

Those are some quotes from the team by which I was surrounded for two days as I was part of a film about naked contact improvisation dance as the intersection of integrity, pleasure and shame.

To dance naked is a dream. Is a full self expression. Is a natural state for me. When I was a girl I spent so much time naked. In my high chair painting myself with beet juice. On the lawn, running through the sprinkler. Trying to take off my clothes in church because there was no air conditioning.

Then for years I hid my body away, per the social norms imposed on my by those around, underneath all the while was a desire to have it be seen. From pride, from arrogance, from a pull to test the limits. To shock and create reaction in the people around me. But I was told over and over, keep it together, keep it put away. Keep it inside.

Then after I was no longer a teenager, the story then became, don’t show off, don’t try to get attention, don’t be too proud of what you’ve got.

All that has seemed to fall away.

So many exercises that I’ve under taken to gain that freedom. Body presentations are the primary one. Read more in prior posts.

Another contributing factor was a series of art films that I made over the last year in which my nudity has been a main theme. I have explored my body in relation to the medium of the ground. First I was nearly naked with paint doing yoga, then totally naked with paint and recorded myself dancing to custom music. Then I recorded a performance where I danced naked on the Playa at burning man, in silence using the medium of the desert sand.

All this seemingly was leading me up to a two day film shoot, dancing contact improv naked with three others, sharing in this presence together.

Coconut oil had our bodies sliding over one another, less edges without clothing to create dimensionality. As time went on, the importance of where we were touching faded all the more. Later outside in the sand we explored the animal connection to the dirt. How to bless and glaze ourselves and others with the sand and the dirt.

What I got from shooting this film was a space to bring myself fully. My sexuality got to come to the party, my creativity got to come to the party, my shame got to come, my desire got to come, my pleasure got to come, my integrity got to come.

If I had set out to design this project myself it couldn’t have been any more beautiful or fully self expressed. Working with Matthew Nelson it felt truly like a co-creation and like my being was fully incorporated in the project.

Environments that call us into flourishing are essential to human fulfillment. This is an environment where I could flourish. Fully. Nothing left out, nothing left behind. Unity. Wholeness. Freedom. Self realization.


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© 2019 Olivia Pavlov