Thomas Johannsen

interdisciplinary performer, director, improviser
Thomas Johannsen has written 53 posts for Interdisciplinary Instant Composition

The speaking body and the speaking bubble

Inspired by a recent Action Theatre workshop Maria Michailidou and me joined with Sten Rudstrom, we wanted to dedicate a number of sessions on looking at the act of speaking/producing words in Improvisation context.

We will do this for the first time in a Carpet Session on the

10th of March 2016

13:00 (doors open/warming up) / 13:30-17:00 work session

Not only improv theatre has usually lots of ‘speaking bodies’ on stage, but also in music, dance and other performative events, someone speaking tends to appear ever so often. Sometimes prominent, sometimes only as a minor event.

We will look at both the enjoyment and pitfalls of speaking in improvisation performance and depart from a physical/body approach to the act of talking.

More so than maybe other Carpet Sessions, this will be a truly open research, as we just feel the necessity to train and research this aspect of improvisation from an interdisciplinary (rather than a purely theatrical) context more deeply.

The session is open to everyone and we are very curious towards all knowledge/experience to the subject that will be shared by other professionals who will join.

What are the Carpet Sessions? / Where is the studio

The session will be facilitated by Maria Michailidou and Thomas Johannsen, in collaboration with the group who will gather.

Please let us know if you want to come by writing a comment to this post, below.



Call for research sessions 2016

Fireworks-1Happy New Year to you all!

We are looking back at a buzzing half year of virtually every Thursday a session on a specific theme, lead by our pool of improvisation professionals from various disciplines. Thanks a lot for that!

So what’s up for the coming months?  Esther Eij will do at least one more “Can I go solo?” session about the dynamics of group vs. soloists, and Bettina Neuhaus and me are brooding on a fitting follow-up for the very fruitful “Groove & Ground” research we had. Are there other plans that I don’t know about?

Do you want lead a research? You are welcome!
The agenda is still very open. Please let us know if you would like to make use of the Carpet Research Studio to facilitate a session on a theme that you are interested in between now and June 2016. A one-off session or a series of multiple sessions, all is possible.

Get in touch here.

With warm greetings and a big hug to everyone!


(What are the Carpet Sessions? click here)


Ground and Groove sessions starting!

Tomorrow afternoon we’ll Groove and Ground!  You are welcome to join 13:00 -17:00…


The first session is open to all, and we’ll focus the work and the group towards session 2 and 3, taking it from the things that will come up tomorrow.

See you there!

Bettina & Thomas

(Dis)connecting the dots – The Report

The very fruitful research of working with musicians, dancers & actors on equal footing in Instant Composition Performance has culminated in a detailed review article that can be found here:

(Dis)connecting the dots – Merging dance, theatre and music in improvisation


connecting_dots2_pusteblumen_grey_light3Parts of the article were used to extend our Knowlegde Base with another main chapter (Material) and a subchapter (Phrasing). Please let me know if you see anything that you cannot agree to from your own practice.

Also, if this inspires you to write more subchapters to the Knowledge Base, or contribute your knowledge in any other way (we are still looking for a gifted website person to make our more ‘3D’  🙂  )  – do get in contact.

Thanks to all the performers, to allimprov and to Anja Boorsma for making (Dis)connecting the Dots possible! (click here for the original session invitation post)

The performers who contributed their time and expertise to our extending knowledge on interdisciplinary improvisation work in this project were:

James Hewitt
Bernt Nellen
Wouter Snoei
Tanaquil Schuttel
Zwaan de Vries
Anja Boorsma
Esmeralda Detmers
Jurriaan Kamp
Edgard Geurink
Maria Michailidou
Annabel Garriga
Stefania Petr
Thomas Johannsen

Job opportunity for improvisation artists

The Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam is organising a project in the beginning of 2016 for which they are specifically looking for Improvisers!
Any discipline is welcome, so I thought this is worth sharing here, for you interdisciplinary performers of the Carpet Sessions.

It’s a paid project.  🙂

Read the call for auditions sent out by Natasha Hoare below.

Continue reading

Writing on Improvisation II


Some thoughts for the session next week, on 10 September 2015 (13:00-17:00)

Let us know if you would like to join us!

Our aims of writing on improvisation can be manifold. From quite close to us: for our own reflection, or to develop the understanding of what we are doing together with the people we are working with at that moment, to further away for other purposes such as reviews, grant proposals or educational texts. Also, the writing can be an artistic output in it’s own right like poetry or prose.

In the context of the Carpet Sessions, however, we have the specific aim of writing something to share it on our website: for improvisation colleagues to read and get inspired, but also to represent the practice of improvisation to any visitor with a curiosity who stumbles into the website.

So for this second writing session, we want to look at writing for that specific audience.

We want to ask the professional improvisers who will gather (and ourselves) the simple question: “What are you interested in to share from your improvisation practice?” (if that sharing has to be done in written text)  🙂

From there, we will do different types of writing practice, in conjunction with performing, composing short pieces, then writing from there.

We also prepared to practise ‘editing’ in different ways. Editing your texts is always a very important step before sharing, and we will try out different ways to make use of each other in editing and make that process vivid, enjoyable and practical.

This second edition of ‘Writing on Improvisation’ has been prepared by Thomas Johannsen, Maria Michailidou and Natanja den Boeft, with additonal suggestions from Bettina Neuhaus.

The session is open to all. Please write a comment to this post if you would like to be there.

What are the Carpet Sessions? / Where is the studio?

Carpet season starting! – Overview for 2015/16

HereandNowfrontpageHello all!

While the first Carpet session of the season is on it’s way – have fun over there! –  I prepared this season’s start update for you.

  • Below, an overview of all the currently planned sessions.
  • There is a report on our recent Carpet picknick. You can read there what we discussed – about what we find important in being part of this initiative and about how to develop this open platform of professionals further this season. Follow this link to read more.
  • The costs sharing we do this year in two ways:
    • Carpet Session regulars and session leaders give 50,- for the whole season. Then you don’t have to donate for any session anymore, whether joining or leading.
    • ‘Guest’ to a session we ask to donate what they can, on a gliding scale between 5 and 10 Euro. The idea is that to cover all costs we make the year round, 10 euro is realistic to ask, but we do not want to create a barrier for those improvisers who want to check us out and wouldn’t join because of money. So for those on a small budget, any amount from 5 euro is fine!
      If you want to be a Carpet Session regular and give the 50 euro per season (or you simply want to be a supporter of this initiative, however often you will be able to attend), follow this link to read how it works.

Here now all planned sessions until now:

3 September – “Just here, just now, just doing it”

10 September – “Writing on Improvisation II”

17+24 September – ‘Identity’
sessions with Zwaan de Vries and Nadine Grinberg

1, 8, 15 October & 3, 10, 17 December – “Can I go solo?” / About individuality in group improvisation

29 October, 12 & 19 November – “Grooves & Grounds” (worktitle) – An exploration into ‘groove’ as a focus for interdisciplinary improvisation, using voice, body, materials (with Bettina Neuhaus and Thomas Johannsen – more info soon)

As you know, any professional improviser is invited to bring his research to the Carpet Sessions and lead an afternoon (or more) of investigating their chosen issues. If you don’t know the sessions, it is of course best if you join a few times and in that way get in touch with us. But also don’t hesitate to write us a message.

Picknick in the city

wpid-cam00263_edited_resized1.jpgThis Saturday, 15th of August, I am meeting with (at least) Johnny Schoofs, Maria Michailidou, Bettina Neuhaus, Virag Dezso, Anne Gentenaar and (tbc) Kenzo Kusuda to lie in the grass and talk informally about the experiences of last year, wishes for the coming season and how to build further on this open platform initiative.

We are gathering informally for a picknick and if you like, you are very much invited to join us!

It’s a potluck picknick (everyone brings food that he/she likes), I will bring drinks. Place is the lush Eastern Harbour part of Amsterdam.

Gathering point: playground Keesje Brijdeplantsoen (Ertskade), pinpointed here on GoogleMaps.

Time to meet: 16:30

As most of you know, the Carpet Sessions are an open invitation to improvisation professionals from the Dutch scene or from abroad to make use of the Amsterdam studio on Thursday afternoons and propose interdisciplinary research sessions. Any issue that deepens the understanding of improvisation performance and/or of working with several disciplines is welcome here. If you have an urge to research or would like to help expanding the open improvisation knowledge base, feel free to get in touch through our contact page or otherwise.

Here also the preview for the beginning of the Carpet season 2015/16:

10 September –  2nd edition of “Writing on Improvisation”

17+24 September  – “What is identity?” (in improvisation performance) – facilitated by Zwaan de Vries & Nadine Grinberg

For October, Esther Eij is preparing a row of sessions on the issue of group/solo in instant compositions.

Other things on the horizon are furthering our ‘How to write about Improvisation?’ quest through a collaborative session with Benedikte Esperi, visiting from Sweden, and a performative research (theme still to be decided) with Bettina Neuhaus.

More info will follow in due course…!




Carpet Improvisers gathering around foundation Here & Now

Hi everyone,

in anticipation of the coming season of Carpet Sessions, I have some great news:  We have founded a ‘stichting’ (foundation) for improvisation work, which all active members in the Carpet Pool of improvisers could use in the future for their improvisation/research projects, for subsidy applications and for us to generally get organised!HereandNowfrontpage

The foundation got the official name ‘Here and Now, Interdisciplinary Instant Composition’ and we made a provisional website that can be reached via

I would like to meet with all those of you who want to keep this initiative going with me, so we can talk and see how to best organise things from here onwards.

Concretely for next season, my wish would be that we can share the costs of the studio hire (which is done per whole season) with a bigger group.
I can imagine that contributing 35,- Euro per year is in everybody’s reach, and a very attractive amount for a full year (shared) use of a studio. You then become one of the hosts of this interdisciplinary research platform, you can use the Thursday afternoons for your own improvisation projects, but more importantly as a space to invite colleagues to train and investigate with you in open or semi-closed Carpet Sessions or longer Carpet projects.

Next to this, it becomes possible for everyone in this group to apply for funding via the stichting, if at any point that is an interesting option. European projects, connecting us to our friends and improvisation research platforms in other cities (Berlin, Paris, Helsinki,…) also now come into our reach.

Please talk to the improvisation colleagues around you about this! It would be great if we can keep offering this open training ground for improvisation in Amsterdam, and build further with even more people getting involved from all disciplines!

Let me know if you’d like to be part of this via

A nice picknick on a rooftop or in the park, somewhere in August, would maybe be a great moment to gather all of you who want to join  😀   Will let you know!

hug & warm summer wishes,

Writing on Improvisation – 11 June & 10 September

In closing of the Carpet Season of this year, I propose an unusual gathering:

Let’s have a look together at the subject of leaving traces of writing about our improvisation work. How can that be done, in a subject as wide as interdisciplinarity and as fluid as improvisation? Which type of writing is useful/effective for our own process and which types of writing are effective for sharing with others? How can we find the words that are full and clear enough for developing the craft of instant composition together?

calvin-writingBettina Neuhaus & Maria Michailidou will meet with me on Thursday, 11 June, and we invite anyone who was involved in Carpet Sessions before to join us. We’ll play, perform and write in still to be defined order and interlacing…

Bring your favorite writing tool (laptop, paper+pen, smartphone, typewriter… 😉 ) and your performer’s presence.

Results will be published in our ever-growing Improvisation Knowledge Base.

If you would like to be there, please announce your presence by writing a comment to this post.

11 June 2015


What are the Carpet Sessions? / Where is the studio?

We plan another sessions like this for the beginning of the season: 10 September

– if you’d like to note it in your agenda already 🙂