Improvisation is easily one of the scariest things in dance. But, it doesn’t have to be.
I had a conversation recently with some of the members of the Dance Ed Tips Team talking about improvisation.
This had me reflect on my journey in improvisation and where I am now.
I used to hate improvisation. I didn’t really know what it was and I didn’t really know how to do it. My journey dancing in college actually made me fall in love with improvisation.
What I Realized in Improvisation
When I was first asked to improvise, it was ROUGH. I probably looked ridiculous and was too timid to let myself go. I think everyone’s first time improvising is always a challenge- a comfort zone you have to leave. Something that resonated with me throughout my college career was how simple movement can be considered a dance. For example, walking or your morning routine- all techniques that help my choreography and the processes behind it.
My takeaway from it was that everything in life is improvisation in and of itself.
Improvisation in Life
Life is one big improvisation dance. WOW! Let that sit for a second. Read it again if you have to!
Sure, we have set schedules, deadlines, and times we dedicate to things. Yet, most of our days don’t go how we planned them at all.
I always have a to-do list of things to get done each day, but I rarely get them all done nor even do it in that specific order. Something gets in the way, a phone call, errands, an emergency… the unpredictable things in life.
That is what life is- unpredictable. We have to adapt, we have to go with the flow of the day and find ways to make the days’ events just work for us. Nothing is ever perfect in our daily lives and routines.
And the thing is… we live life every day. Not knowing what to expect but still living.
The Reality of Improvisation
Improvisation shouldn’t be scary. We do it every day from the moment we wake up to the moment we go back to sleep. Our lives run on improvisation, so why can’t we embody that more when we dance?
I believe that dance itself is a world that puts so much pressure on the idea of perfection. You can read more about my opinion about perfection in my teaching philosophy. I think that many dancers have that fear of not being perfect that they are afraid to step out from that perfect bubble into the world of improvisation- something more natural and raw.
Improvisation embodies the imperfect, the feeling, and the passion behind the movement. I believe that improvisation is the heart of dancing because it is our bodies in their purest form, full of passion to move and express. We adapt, adjust, and “go with the flow” of what’s happening in the present moment in time.
Being comfortable to improvise is something that comes with practice and confidence in your movements. And yes, you have to practice improvisation to get better at it, much like all things in dance. Practicing improvisation helps you to break down those invisible walls holding you back.
I believe that one thing that got me through my anxieties about dancing was relating many things we do in dance to things we do in life. After all, life is one big ole dance. Understanding that the life we wake up to and live through each day is improvisation helped me to understand it just a little bit more, and it felt like home.
To dancers, dance teachers, or performing artists reading this right now. I want you to take a breath. You are doing OK. Life throws so many curve balls to us but I want to reassure you that you can get through it because 1. You do life every day and 2. You do it in your art form. It is part of you and you are good at it!
Life is just one never-ending improvisation dance and you are in the center of it… how do you choose to dance today?