by Gisbert Schürig

This is an excerpt of our group showing of minimal improvisation at Unfinished Fridays series, Nov 9th 2015, Lake Studios Berlin.

Currently we are applying minimal improvisation concepts from a musical context to dance. This is aimed at forming a collection of strategies and approaches for interdisciplinary improvisation, forming a basic framework for improvisational performances and jams.
Creating musical structure within minimal improvisation for me has been very much linked to the idea of an ongoing rhythmical cycle which is prevalent in minimal music or the improvisations of the pygmies, serving as a common reference. When working with musicians, this concept is mostly obvious,it is connected to the musical concepts of bars and metres, it is functional in music jams or circle songs.
While this concept must have it´s place in many forms of dance, it does not resonate strongly with contemporary dancers, at least those taking part in this work.
Maybe this concept is still to associated with the clutches of tradition, maybe it contradicts strivings for individuality that could be vital to contemporary improvisation?
While I still want to further explore the potential of the concept of the fixed rhythmical cycle, I acknowledge that a more fluid, modular approach resonates far stronger when working on minimal improvisation in dance. That is, working with elements that can be distinguished but may vary in tempo and duration. These elements serve as building blocks within a structure, that is itself fluid and changing but still clearly visible.

At Lake Studios, Gali Kinkulkin and Naima Ferré were working on the gradual variation of a simple movement. Little changes could lead to a developement over time, while parameters unchanged would create a feeling of continuity. And, of course, the ongoing mutual attention to the dialogue gives the improvisation a sense of consistency. Within this framework, different ways of interaction occur. Some concerning the movements itself, some concerning their placing in time. The dancers are in some kind of a feedback loop, imitating, mirroring, echoing, delaying and opposing each others movements. Or, near the end, engage in parallel, similar activity, interacting in a more open sense.

One of the next steps to take will be the application of this fluid, modular style of improvisation to music and observe wether this can serve as a common ground for interdisciplinary improvisation. I did already emulate this in several sets of Ableton live music software and that turned out to be a lot of fun offering so much flexibility to develope musical elements in very different directions in an improvised fashion.

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