We will be learning through discovery. We will not be told exactly what to do or how, but instead will be guided through experiences that themselves will allow us to discover whatever is to be learned, each in our own way, with some limitations, and with individual results.
Improvising can be scary because you do on the spur of the moment whatever you do, without thinking about it first – actually, to me, that’s what it means to improvise: to allow movements to originate in your body, rather than in your mind. Honestly, it’s as exciting as skiing down a mountain or kissing a boy for the first time, and I laugh as we begin, because I am really having fun, and I don’t know what is going to happen next.
Limitations help dancers push beyond the boundaries of their experience, allowing them to discover movements and the means of achieving them that they might not otherwise come across. That may sound contrary to logic, but it’s impossible to discover one’s way out of a box if there is no box. In improvisation, the limitations are the box.
Improvisation strips one naked, as it were, in front of the audience. Many dancers shy away from this approach, finding it too unnerving, and teachers of most dance traditions don’t include the practice. Some misunderstand improvisation as a way for the teacher to “cheat,” to get away with not really teaching. Their thinking goes, if students are coming up with their own movements, after all, what’s the role of the teacher? In truth, great skill is required to evoke a true discovery experience for students through improvisation.
Improvisation helps each individual uncover what is inside and bring it to the outside, where it can be developed and appreciated.
Author: Andrea Kaufman 2018