by Elizabeth Powers
As part of the piece that I am setting on Monkeyhouse for NACHMO Boston I have been working with improvisation within performance. Living in this world has given me the opportunity to watch how improvisation scores change as they are being done and how they can be edited from a choreographer’s perspective in order to facilitate the most interesting movement generation.
I love the concept of improvisation because it allows for the movement that is being performed to be unique and new to everyone. I believe that audience members respond in a way that is reflective of the performers experience. I have also found that when choreography is set and drilled in an effort to clean for a long period of time, it can become boring to the dancers performing it. Dancers often get so used to moving in a certain way that the movement can become comfortable or monotonous. As an observer and a choreographer, I am finding that allowing room for chance and change in every run of a dance has begun to invoke a feeling of exhilarating anticipation while simultaneously leveling the playing field, as no individual party knows exactly what will happen each time the piece is performed.
Possibly one of the unconscious reasons that I have been drawn to improvisation is that I like to see what people come up with, and particularly how many different ways one idea can be interpreted. I really admire individuality and uniqueness in people and I enjoy seeing work where the idiosyncrasies of each performer are valued. Especially as an emerging choreographer, I think that using strategies that showcase individual performers strengths, personalities, and backgrounds, allows me to uncover what it is that I like to see and put into my choreography. By incorporating improvisation scores into performance, I get to be excited and surprised with every run through and performance, which is a thrilling experience as a choreographer.