August 24th was my first day of Dance 5121: Improvisation with Bebe Miller. I’ll be using this blog to post some of my thoughts and experiences about my improvisation experience throughout the semester.
This was largely a group improvisation experience based on ideas of periphery and compositional structure, as well as an investigation of the performative state. As a group we moved forward and backwards through space, all facing the same direction, varying with speed and touch as we encounter each other.
It was sometimes a challenge to maintain a sense of peripheral vision, but when I did, it was much easier to move quickly and instinctively through the space. It also became a much more satisfying experience when I was able to free myself from the isolation of a direct, forward gaze. A connection to the periphery aids self-awareness but lessens isolation.
At one point in the improvisation, Bebe suggested that we pay attention to “arrival.” At that moment I noticed a person to my right, and we both instantly felt drawn to move backwards in time with each other. It was the first time I really sensed a relationship with someone else in the room. At the same time, another person came very quickly towards me while running backwards. I experienced an immediate internal conflict. Do I move out of the way? Or do I continue backwards with my slow-moving path with my new friend? It felt important to maintain the connection I had already developed.
To resolve the issue I chose to put my hand on the back of the person moving towards me, and I gently moved her to the side. It was a moment of initiation when I often allow myself to be pulled by the ebb and flow.
This is the aspect of improvisation that most interests me: how we train ourselves in the studio to prepare for real life applications of surprise, fear, vulnerability, habit, etc. Improvisation to me represents an opportunity to notice our patterns and potentially change them so that we’re living healthier and more fruitful lives.