MODULE 3: Improvisational Mind and Performance

The art of improvising is learning to recognize what needs to happen in a given moment and change course if that serves the larger purpose or a more fluid way of proceeding. Within a structure and framework we allow the emergence of the unfolding moment. This is our teaching philosophy. 

The third module is based on our belief that our path in life is improvisational and that there is great magic to be discovered through interrupting, intercepting, and challenging set beliefs and rigid concepts in order to perceive what is happening in a given moment. Embodied perception invites the possibility of choice. 

In our view, Somatic practices are both systematic and flowing. Our bodies are in constant relationship to what is being perceived. Thus, we aim to teach both the structural knowledge of the body and movement, as well as how to listen to and follow the body’s infinite and surprising transformations. 

Although improvisation is commonly taught in relation to various art forms (e.g., dance, music), in MOC’s third module, Improvisational Mind and Performance, we utilize those art forms to teach the improvisational mind more directly. 

This module focuses on the interdisciplinary practices and research of improvisation, exploring the concerns of contemporary performance and culture. The program offers participants diverse improvisational skills, weaving somatic principles into specific Body Techniques and Performance discipline in a training that invokes curiosity, resilience, and dynamic presence. Weekly informal showings with supportive constructive feedback and an inclusive performance project are a part of the curriculum.

The curriculum weaves together practice and theory in:

Integrating improvisational exercises and somatic practices, this class will provide a rich and challenging laboratory for the person interested in deepening the resonance of their physical and vocal expression… Read more …
In Contact Improvisation, dancers move in and out of contact, uniting their bodies to create a mutually supportive and dynamic interplay of weight. The primary developmental patterns of rolling, crawling, falling, walking, and running form the basis of the movement vocabulary. Through studying these patterns in-depth, we will develop an understanding of the body’s structure and the movement forces acting upon this structure. We do not strive to achieve results, but rather to participate openly in a constant changing physical reality. Focus on solos, duets, trios and scores will be integrated as skills are developed. Read more …
Authentic Movement is a self-directed movement form. One moves with eyes closed in the presence of another, who is a witness. With eyes closed, the mover has the opportunity to bring awareness to inner sensation and focus on other senses. As a witness one is encouraged to bring attention to one’s own experience while being totally present in seeing the mover. The simplicity of this form is its power. We will explore the action of seeing and being seen, the dynamic interplay that is at the heart of both the therapeutic dyad and performance. This class provides time and space in the Moving On Center program for integration. It is a time we use to be present with whatever is moving for each of us. Read more …
The practice of Action Theater incorporates the disciplined exploration of embodied exercises that lead to increased skills of strong, clear, spontaneous, and artful communication. Read more …

This workshop presents four days of performance research, play, problems, and confusions. Improvisation dares an encounter with the radical now, while performance invokes a ritualized event where time and space are elastic or mutable and bodies are not what they seem. We will improvise alone, in duets, and in groups. In this workshop we will analyze one day, and try to lose our minds the next; confront the fake dichotomy between representation and real; and try to expand our potential to instigate, recognize, and enjoy situations as they unfold. Contact Improvisation, the dance of touch & weight, support & yield, will be a point of departure for experiments in real time composition, spontaneous performance art, and embodied theory. We will hang out in the gaps between knowing and not-knowing, between the said, the not-said, and the not-yet-said.
At the end of the module students will be invited to work on the final performance project incorporating and expanding on the material they have been working together.

The core curriculum is supported and enhanced through other activities that serve to build community within the group and provide opportunities for deeper integration of the core material. These activities are:

A place where students and faculty gather to check-in every week and share with each other what is going on in their present experience. This is an essential part of the curriculum. It is a direct practice in utilizing the various systems we are learning in connection with the real relationships within the group.
Participatory Seminars are for presenting theory, participatory dialogue and practice in bringing the experiential into cognitive articulation of these various systems.
Integration classes provide experiential & theoretical summarizing to integrate the current weeks course material.
A time for faculty members to address the students’ curiosities and concerns related to the material and personal struggles and to provide support in the unfolding of one’s creative potential and vision.
Specifically designed to integrate the material you are learning through research and writing and/or presentations within a small group and faculty. They are shared within an attitude of mutual learning and support.
Singing together will be interspersed throughout the module. It is an opportunity to bring the voice into fuller expression, create a spirit of unity and an awareness and appreciation of difference.