Dance | Speak to me! THREE

Mousonturm Studio 2

Series of lectures

Where is improvisation?

While teaching a dance workshop recently in a city that shall remain nameless, I was criticized by the studio manager for teaching improvisation: I was told, “In Italy, we don’t improvise.” Obviously, nothing could be farther from the truth! The stigmatization of improvisation in Western culture is a barrier to the study of improvisation; as are rigid notions of time, form, and authorship. The weak ideas that improvisation is anything goes or purely spontaneous, is challenged by the foundation of specific communities and methods, as is currently the case in contemporary dance. Through description of my personal experience improvising in The Forsythe Company and interviews with colleagues who work in other established communities or methods of improvisation (such as contact improvisation and Gaga), I will enable reflections about what dance improvisation is, how relevant improvisation is in our daily lives, and why it is so difficult or problematic to speak about in Western culture. To provide multiple entries into the topic, I will make connections to theory and analysis of improvisation in sports science, creativity studies, and music. This talk, alas, will be carefully scripted.