Dance of Breathing 2 – a pure improvisation activity

Purpose of the Activity

 This is a standalone activity but can be linked to Dance of Breathing 1.

This breathing improvisation explores the effect others have on us, particularly exploring closeness and vicinity.It also can be used to explore status, difference and diversity, as well as the simplicity of play.


Work in pairs.

The pair sits close to each other, without touching. It can work well if they sit side by side with the side of their heads almost touching. What is necessary is to be able to pick up on each others’ breathing.
State the importance from the start of being sensitive to each other and not to fall into hyperventilation or holding breath for two long. Be aware before starting of anyone with medical conditions which might affect their involvement in the activity and deal with this sensitively and discreetly.

The activity proceeds in silence, and can run for as long as half an hour, but can also be as short as five minutes.

The pair begin the activity, in silence, by simply remaining still and tuning in to each other’s breathing. Physical contact is ok for this is both parties allow it. If one person is uncomfortable they can say so or simply withdraw. The only reason for physical contact (i.e. allowing shoulders to touch) is to enhance the ability to sense each others’ breathing beyond hearing it.

At first, just become aware of your own breathing but slowly tune in with your awareness to the other person’s breathing and note how close or different it is to your own. Then, slowly, flow into a process where one of you appears to be leading and the other following. You may slow down your breathing with the other person following suit. Then you may quicken your breath and, again the other person may follow, or may take over leadership and chance the rhythm of their breathing for you to follow. One may suddenly hold their breath and you may do the same!

Then the dance of breathing can really begin. It may be that one person takes in a long slow breath and the other takes a few short breaths. The interplay can sometimes feel harmonious, sometimes discordant. It can feel competitive, or collaborative, there can be sudden synergy, sudden chaos. It can feel lovely, or even uncomfortable. Remember not to do anything that can make one of you feel faint or physically in any kind of distress.

After a while, the breathing may become very playful, intimate and even quite musical.

Slowly come back to your own breathing, as at the start of the activity, until you are both breathing alone again.

Then reflect on the experience, together then in plenary.


Some questions for reflection
How did it feel at different stages of the activity?
How did the closeness feel?
How did you tune into the other person?
How did you communicate with each other?
What different modes of interaction were there? Competitive? Collaborative?
Were there times when two became one? If so, how did that feel?
How creative did you find the activity?
How did the process compare to dancing?
When were you thinking and when did you let go of thinking?
How does this activity relate to other forms of communication and interaction?