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If you would like to learn more about current or future improvisation courses at Bennington College, please contact Elena Demyanenko or Susan Sgorbati.
Advanced Improvisation and Partnering (DAN4292.01)
Faculty: Dai Jian. This class takes improvisation as an exploration of the present moment without expectation or preconceived purpose; improvisation is seen as the exercise of listening, observing, and trusting in one’s instincts and in the principles of nature. We will explore the use of improvisation in performance, showing each other often, to develop these particular performance skills. Partnering will focus on the interaction between dancers and how to compose with each other on the spur of the moment. This training is meant to help us dance with responsibility, aware of each other and the audience. Class begins with free open play and movement games to release mind and body, to observe oneself and others, look for one’s interest in the moment, and to describe and develop that interest in relationship to space, weight and different movement qualities.
Advanced Improvisation Ensemble for Dancers & Musicians (DAN4673.01)
Faculty: Susan Sgorbati. This advanced course focuses on work in the performance of improvisation. For dancers, special attention is given to the development of individual movement vocabularies, pattern recognition and the exploration of forms and structures. Dancers are expected to have experience with improvisation in performance and are asked to develop a structure for the group. This class will meet and work with Bruce Williamson’s class, Improvisation Ensemble for Musicians.
Improvisation, Indeterminacy and Art Intervention (APA2141.01)
Faculty: Susie Ibarra. This course explores art intervention in cities and rural environments that utilize methods of improvisation and indeterminacy to address social and environmental issues. The class will examine the relationships and dialogue between traditional and contemporary practices of problem solving in communities. The class will work on collaborating on the design and curriculum of the Music School, M’Hamid El Ghizlane Oasis for disadvantaged youth in the South Sahara, Morocco with Aziza Chaouni Projects and NGO Playing for Change , Sahara Roots Foundation and Zalia. This may lead to field work term opportunities for two students to study and work at the school.
Improvisation: Survival, Adaptation, Invention (DAN2175.01)
Faculty: Elena Demyanenko. In this semester-long laboratory on improvisation, we will place ourselves attentively into particular environments and situations in order to access and develop the skills of individual and ensemble physical problem solving. Pattern recognition will be one lens through which we will view the role of perception in real time decision-making. Ultimately, our choices will activate scores and systems that explore the relationship between the body, image, and place. The body, therefore, will be the main locus for understanding and unpacking our spatial and narrative interactions through real-time composition development. Regarding the use of improvisation, we will direct our analyses of experiences to identify the commonalities across disciplines. We will try to untangle the relevance of improvisation in the broader context of a world where productive argument and healthy engagement needs to be fostered. In order to understand cause and effect in our work, a vocabulary and set of by-products for making will be developed through writing, drawing, and collage.
Improvisation Ensemble for Dancers & Musicians (DAN4357.01)
Faculty: Susan Sgorbati; Michael Wimberly
This advanced course focuses on work in the performance of improvisation. For dancers, special attention is given to the development of individual movement vocabularies and the exploration of emergent forms and structures within an ensemble. For musicians, special attention is given to creating rhythms and sonorities which can then be manipulated and developed while interacting with dancers in the moment. Dancers are expected to have experience with improvisation in performance and are asked to develop a structure for the group. Musicians should have basic skills on their instrument and be able create and convey a sense of form to other musicians in an efficient way.
Interdisciplinary Improvisation Ensemble (APA2135.01)
Faculty: Susie Ibarra; Susan Sgorbati. When you see a flock of birds migrating south, how does self-organization form the patterns that result in their flight? When you observe dancers moving along a path without a choreographer and musicians creating music without each note written down, how do they follow and listen to each other? How do collaborative structures support dialogue or destroy communication? This is an introductory course into the skills necessary for action in the present moment. We will understand what it means to compose in an ensemble, create dialogue in an ensemble, and recognize structure in an ensemble when the participants themselves are engaged in making something happen without a preformed map or direction. This class is open to anyone who is interested in learning what it means to participate in an ensemble in an improvisational setting. This ensemble will explore site specific subjects, material and ideas in relation to an interdisciplinary improvisation ensemble .
Intermediate Improvisation Ensemble for Dancers (DAN4674.01)
Faculty: Susan Sgorbati. This intermediate level course focuses on work in the performance of improvisation. For dancers, special attention is given to the development of individual movement vocabularies, pattern recognition and the exploration of forms and structures.
Movement Practice: Dance Improvisation (DAN2153.01)
Faculty: Terry Creach. For those seeking a rigorous and adventurous movement practice. No prior movement training necessary. We will work with the essential aspects of moving, to develop basic skills of physical articulation, strength and endurance, and to expand our physical range and potential. By actively engaging in the play of improvisation, we learn to respond to existing conditions, unearth and develop our own movement, and bring that movement into fruitful dialogue with others. Focusing on our choices, our contributions, we consider how we might support or challenge the emerging ensemble composition. Rhythms, sonic textures, and full-blown orchestral works will also serve as partners in our discovery of what moves us.
Site-Specific Improvisation (DAN2122.01)
Faculty: Elena Demyanenko
In creating site-specific work, we will place ourselves attentively into particular environments and generate immediate composition. Our choice of location will activate scores and systems that explore the relationship between the body, architecture, and landscape. We will look at the properties of place, not only in a conceptually abstract way but also in an immediately felt way. The body will be the main laboratory for understanding and unpacking our spatial interactions. In order to understand cause and effect in the site-specific work, we will develop a language and set of by-products for making through writing, drawing, and collage. Students’ compositional drafts will be viewed and discussed regularly, opening up conversations on structure, organization, and disorganization.