Grounds & Grooves

29 October, 12 & 19 November – 13:00-17:00

3 sessions facilitated by Bettina Neuhaus and Thomas Johannsen

 groovy monkeygroove

c.1400, from O.N. grod “pit,” or M.Du. groeve “furrow, ditch,”

Sense of “long, narrow channel or furrow”

Meaning “spiral cut in a phonograph record”

Fig. sense of “routine” , often depreciatory at first, “a rut.”

Adj. groovy in lit. sense of “of a groove;”

In slang sense of “excellent,” from jazz slang phrase in the groove “performing well (without grandstanding).”

As teen slang for “wonderful”

To enjoy intensely.

To take gratification

To go with the flow

These 3 sessions are inspired by our curiosity about ‘groove’ as a captivating phenomenon that once it is housed in dance and music it elevates the composition to a ‘higher’ and more exciting level.

Performers are very much aware of the moment a groove is established in their music or dancing and usually this groove also communicates directly to the audience: something swings, flows and takes us with it. A groove is like an undercurrent with its own particular rhythm that we immediately pick up on a bodily and intuitive level and engage with.

It is a kind of feel that makes you move with.

‘Being in the groove’ is like an evoked field in which ‘forces of unseen connections’ are come into play directly altering our experience.

Although we can all feel when something grooves or is groovy, ‘groove’ is a phenomenon that is almost ungraspable and unexplainable.

So, what is ‘the secret’ of the groove? What are its hidden underlying dynamics and ‘ingredients’?

From ground to groove

In order to find our way into the world of ‘groove’ we will take a closer look at our relationship to ground and gravity as a way to open up our bodies to the passage of time.

  • How to use the ground as a dynamic rather than static element within our movement?
  • How can we give ground to a movement / to a sound / to a phrase / to a duet?
  • And how does a sense of (common) ground effect the overall composition?
  • How does the play with gravity open the channels of the body to time and activates our awareness for pulse and rhythm?
  • How can we then invite a groove into our actions?
  • And how to place then your following actions within that groove in order to sustain it?
  • How do ground and groove connect the performers? How do they effect the audience?
  • We will instigate ‘hidden grooves’ as an undercurrent in movement or sound in that it is palpable but not necessarily audible as such.

The sessions are open to any professional improvisers, no matter their discipline. We will approach the subject from a music and dance perspective in first instance, but it could be taken into any other artistic discipline from there.

We have a preference for a stable group to work with. Please let us know whether you would be able to come to all three sessions, or which session you would have to miss. We will then put the group together for the research.

You can respond by using the ‘Leave a reply’ option to this post.

What are the Carpet Sessions? / Where is the studio

Summary ARRIVING Session 2

1. Touch as a way of arriving in the physical body
Touching your body with the hands, later touching the floor or other edges of the space (like walls etc.) with different body parts
Touching the space (the air) to arrive
Touching another body
– from different distances
– with different speed
⇨ listening to the feedback that arises from the moment of touch as arrival
⇨ how long is the duration of the actual arriving => how does the feedback change during this time? => how and where in the body do you hear this information?
From the moment of arriving the possibilities of the future (e.g. the next movement, a sound, a word…) emerge. But it seemed that we could respond to them with readiness only when we first had fully arrived.

Aspects that came up:
Arriving as a dynamic movement of completion of ‘something’.
The duration as well as the speed of arriving can differ each time.
As we listen to the feedback that emerges in the moment of arriving we often find multi-layered information as resonance that speak to our different senses.
In this practice of “arriving” actions seemed to occur from deep within.

2. Group Improvisation: Arriving in space – space as a physical partner
Using different levels & subspaces and considering other people as part of space
Awareness of how eyes and vision are integrated in this practice
We can arrive in a place, in a stillness, in a movement, in a beginning or in an end; we can arrive in a song, a story, an image. We can use e.g. movement, sound, repetition or change to arrive. These are only a few aspects of the subject of “ARRIVING”.

3. Arriving in the beginning
Practice in small groups:
a) Arriving simultaneously
Entering space and arriving together in time in a configuration that could be the beginning of a piece.
Playing while entering space with different speed, energy, and timing.
The way the group entered resounded in the final “group configuration” which then itself carried a very specific atmosphere and by that the possible future of the piece that could evolve from this beginning.
b) Arriving successively
A is entering space and finds stillness in a specific position, B is entering and positioning himself in space, then C enters and positions himself. Then A, B & C shift at the same time into a new ‘position’. This is the beginning of the piece.
It became very tangible that e.g. for A who arrived in space first the entrances of B and C would each time alter his arrival position as their entrance would change the entire space.

=> From here we did several improvisations in small group – using different ways of beginning.

4. Allowing a title to ‘arrive’
We added the following aspect for the audience:
As you watch the piece become receptive for words, associations and images that “arrive” in your body and imagination by ‘taking in’ the piece. Write those words directly on a paper as possible titles for this specific improvisation.
When we read our words it was interesting to see that one piece often had triggered very similar associations in the audience.

Maria & Bettina

Discussion Part 2 on 8th December 2011

Dear Carpet-Colleagues,

At the end of our session last Thursday, 8th December we continued our sharing discussion around the actual needs of the collective and our work.

The most important thing we discussed was around attendance, and how to organize it with as many people as we are with constantly changing agenda’s.

1. All sessions open
What Makiko brought up 2 weeks ago, we reaffirmed: Other than having semi-closed cycles, let’s say that in principle all sessions are open to be joined independently. So, you can come in at any point in a cycle of sessions a join the research. Just announce that you are coming, that’s all!

2. Announcing attendance
The idea is that you announce that you are coming to a session by simple putting your name and “I’ll be there on (date)” in the comment to the post that is announcing a (series of) session(s). [click on COMMENTS right below the particular post] This way session leaders will never be surprised by the amount of people showing up.

3. Session leader forms a core group
Next to this, experience shows that it is more satisfactory for session leaders to ask some people from the group personally for their sessions, so that there is a ‘core’ group of people who are doing the session(s) with each other, independent from the rest of people who might join in.
You can find other group members telephone numbers and e-mail addresses through the password protected members page. Contact Thomas if you forgot the password.

4. Session leaders decide how to work
In our 1st discussion on 1st December we talked about the fact that different leaders have been approaching their sessions in different ways: e.g. some chose a topic they were working on in their own artistic process at the moment, some others proposed a topic they thought might be of interest for the carpet collective at the actual moment. Some leaders came up with a clearly predefined structure of exercises etc. that they would hold on during the sessions and others worked from a more ‘open’ source, adapting and re-shaping the session in regard to the actual process and questions that came up while working. We concluded that the potent of the Carpet Collective resides a.o. in the diversity of our different backgrounds, visions and approaches. So, we are not looking for “one way” of choosing theme and way of leadership. It is up to each leader how to approach those aspects and at the same time it might be helpful for the process to share any significant choices with the group of that afternoon.

Other things we said:

– If sessions are cancelled or the space is not used, Carpet Collective members can use the studio with up to 4 people at no extra cost. Just organize the key amongst each other.
– New people are welcome, but always check if these people have a certain understanding/background of instant composition and improvising in front of an audience. Also it is helpful to check with the current session leader before you just invite someone new.

If you have anything to add or comment – please share your thoughts by posting a comment.


Summary last session on ARRIVING + Discussion

Dear all,

Here a very brief summary of our session last Thursday 1st December where we made a 1st beginning around the subject of “ARRIVING”.
We worked mainly with the element of “physical touch” to arrive in one’s own body or on the floor. This simple practice brought up a tremendous amount of sub-aspects such as e.g. the timing of arriving, different trajectories of arriving, inside – outside, the resonance of arriving, stillness, impact on space and time etc. which we noticed in our role as performers as well as audience.
Next Thursday 8th December we plan to continue with this practice and to focus on different ways how to “arrive in a composition”. Looking forward to seeing you then,

Maria & Bettina

At the end of our session on 1st December we had a brief moment of sharing around the topic of “leadership” and “organisation”. As we were a very small group we could just make a beginning, which we want to share with you.
Please see the listed thoughts as a beginning of discussion that needs to be complemented and refined.

1. For the quality of process and work it is helpful if not necessary that the person leading has joined the previous sessions (to know what had happened before) and/or is joining the group regularly.

2. Compared to the sessions before the summer the number of people coming to the Thursday sessions has clearly decreased. We were discussing the possible reasons for that. One might be that the day Thursday is working less for people. Conclusion: We should check again the availability of everybody.
Also, we found that the previous structure-overview of individual attendance we had last year on the carpet blog was very useful. Now the leaders never know in advance who will come, which led even to situations that there was only person. We suggest putting again an overview of attention on the blog. Thomas, is this possible?

3. In case the leader is absent, we suggest that the present people of the group can still use the studio – working on the topic of Instant Composition.

4. The space is reserved for the meetings of the Instant Composition group.

5. The original idea to strive for attending the entire set/series of sessions led by 1 leader turned out to be unrealistic for many of us. We thought there is the need to open it up: People, who don’t manage to join three sessions of the same leader, should be able to attend any session they are able to. => More flexibility is needed under the actual circumstances.

6. Concerning the content of the leadership: in the sessions from September on it seemed that the leaders choose the content of their leadership from their own individual interests or own artistic/creative investigation.
We need to clarify whether we want to continue towards this direction or whether the work and the group need something different. Here we get back to the question: what lies at the core of our shared work in this collective?

If you cannot come next Thursday but you have any thoughts to add to this discussion – please put them on the blog!

Maria & Bettina


Dear all,

The theme of the coming 2 sessions (1st and 8th December) will be: ARRIVING

We propose some ideas to work with such as:

Arriving in the body, in a place, a shape, a stillness, an image, a sound, a touch
Arriving with my whole being, body, thoughts, feelings, intention, focus and awareness.
Arriving here and now – in space and time
Time and timing of arriving
Arriving as a way of completion
What is happening in the travel of arriving? And what in the moment in which I have arrived?
Arriving as an end of an action and a beginning of a new one
I arrive before I go
Arriving as a moment of active stillness
Arriving in the composition / in the body of the piece
How arriving can be shared with the public

Looking forward to seeing you next Thursday,

Maria & Bettina