I've been talking to friends of mine about this little project and wanted to share some thoughts with anyone who is interested. The discussion uses terms and concepts from contact that may not be familiar to people. Please feel free to ask if there is something you don't understand but would like to.
Irimi/tenkan: Many people say, "irimi / tenkan" but I'm stil not quite clear about how to meaningfully extract what is important about these notions in a way that makes 'sense' in the world of contact improv. One thought that occurs to me is that irimi and tenkan teach two important principles that are at the heart of Aikido: using the power of your hips to move the other person and making space for the other person to fill. Both of these seem like they might have more direct relevance for the people I'm working with and that an exercise could be developed around these principles which would also teach the specific movements.
The idea of unbalancing: this, I believe, is a core idea of Aikido that would transfer well into contact improv but is also relatively unfamiliar. In contact, the dancers are so willing to unweight and unbalance that the idea of taking balance doesn't usually come up. On the other hand, it is such a beautifully complementary notion to the contact idea of 'offering support' and 'inviting someone to take a ride' that I'm sure that people will take to it. It also offers an opportunity to bring contact people more gently into the idea of 'intention' by making games where the two sides play with cooperative vs. opposing interests.
Intention: Aikido and contact both talk about 'being in the moment' and 'letting go of expectation.' However, in Aikido we let go of expectation without letting go of intention, while in contact there is also an idea of not 'intending' or 'trying to get anywhere.' (I know we say this in Aikido, too, but in contact they really mean it). This is reflected nicely in the way the eyes are used in the two different arts. In Aikido, the eyes have direction while in contact most often they don't and often the eyes are simply closed. I think that an exercise working on gaze and the intention to get to a certain place (with each side having a different intention) might be very interesting.
Techniques: I think that I should teach at least one or two techniques. Otherwise, it will all likely feel much too abstract. Because contact people are basically quite good at falling, I imagine that irimi-nage (which involves a lot of contact) would be a very good one. One option to think about for a second technique would actually be a koshi (after all, they are used to going up and down) although that might be something to play with at the end. Shiho-nage makes for an interesting play of full-body contact and work on a small joint.
Staying grounded: I imagine that the whole notion of staying grounded and upright will be one of the most alien concepts for the dancers. I thought about using the metaphor of a heavy shopping cart that moves easily when pushed, but is very grounded. This connected back, to me, to Ian's description of playing with pushing on each other.
Whew. That's enough for now. Anybody who waded through all this and wants to chime in should feel free. Thanks for taking the time.