Improvisation: Not spontaneous?

What are we really saying when we say in the moment or be present?

And what exactly is improvisation? The term as become so widely spread, it no longer describes one idea, mind-set, or working method. Gaga, Open-form Composition, Spontaneous Composition, Forsythe, Contact Improvisation…  I can not simply “improvise” for you. (Which is what my 11-year-old niece requested when I had to explain to her I don’t have any dance ‘routines’ but I mostly improvise. My response was “Let’s do it together, it’s more fun that way!”). I too was being vague in this context, unable to give a clear picture to a young, inspiring dancer about what kind of field she was up against.

Let’s start to be critical about what we are asking from ourselves when we Improvise. What are we really doing here?

There’s some sort of phenomenon in which we expect ourselves as dancers to be able to differentiate between acting according to a (inner) sensation that is happening right now and the knowledge that we have gained from the past, (which actually enables us to make decisions and predict the future). Thusly, we can not separate ourselves from our knowledge.

What is Improvisation?

What if we approached it this way:

We are knowledgeable about what we are doing. We are putting ourselves into situations of pressure, or the unknown, or collaborative communities and forcing a response to that instance. We are risking.

We are not trying to think out of the box, always creating something new, better, innovative, different than before. We are looking at “what’s inside the box?”

The questions I have now:

Where is the revolution of improvisation beyond being ‘innovative’? Where are the risks in the arts that actually matter?

(Thanks to Joào de Silva for his lecture today on Improvisation and Risk-Taking. Many of the ideas here come from him. Best of luck on your Phd)


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