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InterPlay and the Movement Patterns

By Cynthia Winton-Henry, Co-founder of InterPlay

InterPlay is a system of practices and ideas that increase ease, creativity, body wisdom, teamwork, and energy. Focusing on four areas of experience—movement, voice, words, and stillness—participants gain insight into their unique body wisdom and learn how to use it effectively in groups. InterPlay is practiced by leaders in business, education, therapy, social work, art, religion, and non-profit work in over 50 cities on 5 continents.

InterPlay’s easy-going approach is based on asking participants to do relatively simple things that lead to interesting and sometimes surprising interactions. We might ask them to:

  • tell a partner about your kitchen for 30 seconds,
  • let one hand move smoothly for ten seconds, then jerky, and then combine the two in a short dance or,
  • follow the sound and movement of  a partner for 30 seconds, then change roles, then do it once more while letting go of knowing who is following and who is leading.

Afterwards, we “notice” whatever might have gone on for us personally, allowing other layers of learning and interaction to occur. These incremental steps lead to more elaborate forms of moving, telling stories, and singing.

InterPlay was described by one participant as being “sneaky deep.” InterPlayers notice major shifts in awareness, get a sense of community among diverse participants, and gain tools for creating in many different ways in the moment. InterPlay has become a life practice for many—a way to be fully present in the moment and to regain the grace, joy, amusement, and ease one needs to work well in the world. InterPlay easily includes people with challenges of age, experience, ability, or language. The practices serve as open, adaptable containers into which people can pour their particular stories and experiences. Those with English as a second language often feel more quickly included in English-speaking groups. Those with special knowledge learned from unusual life experiences have a place to share what they know through short noticing exercises.

Hang, Swing, Thrust, and Shape were integrated into the InterPlay system early on. In InterPlay we get to play with these dynamics in direct, physical ways. Understanding these movement patterns has become a practical, “hands-on” way to understand how different people can be from one another. Like the primary colors—blue, red, and yellow—these four movement dynamics are easy to feel, recognize and apply when people want to expand the “color palette” of their everyday behaviors.

On a personal note, the patterns helped me to affirm my intense need to thrust. I had repressed my thruster so much that it was affecting not only my health, but my family and work relationships. It is possible that embracing my thruster saved my marriage and my life.

InterPlay uses movement elements from four patterns in every warm-up. We believe that having even a little of each can provide useful balance in our lives. People feel relief when they get to do “fake tai chi” to smooth things out, or all-out fake karate for five seconds to let their thrusters “go off.”

In the InterPlay Leadership Program, designed to help people lead a more embodied life, the four movement patterns are introduced as part of InterPlay’s common language. Consequently, InterPlayers embrace the different wisdom that comes from individuals and/or groups—hangers, thrusters, shapers or swingers. All are important. By physically engaging and celebrating each pattern, we have uncovered the wonderful gifts that diverse people bring to our gatherings. For more information about InterPlay events see www.interplay.org.

Visit colleague's web site www.interplay.org

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