Thomas Johannsen

interdisciplinary performer, director, improviser
Thomas Johannsen has written 56 posts for Interdisciplinary Instant Composition

a living/moving Wikipedia for Improvisation


For the end-of-season gathering of the Carpet Sessions coming Thursday, what are your wishes to spend the afternoon?

My own proposal would be to toy around with ideas and work forms how improvisers (from different disciplines) could build a dictionary of their work, together.

Backed by the foundation behind the Carpet Sessions, and in collaboration with Instant Pudding in Paris and ImproXchange in Berlin, I am preparing a project in exactly that gist, and this could be a way to give direction to the Carpet Sessions organised by different people in the coming year, if we would feel like it.

Making such a Wikipedia of improvisation (like a dictionary of everything relating to improvisation) is actually taking the open improvisation knowledge base that we started here on this website to a professional level and making it editable and adjustable for a much bigger community.

It is also provoking several questions, amongst which
– how can you define at all things about improvisation (that by nature likes to be undefined)
– in which way the words/media in such a dictionary can relate as closely as possible to the actual work being done on the floor (rather than the dictionary becoming a purely academic exercise)

Let’s speak/play/dance/sing about it further on Thursday. Looking forward to it… 13:00-17:00

See you there!


What are the Carpet Sessions? / Where is the studio? Click here.

Gathering to close the season: 30 June 2016

Dear improvisers,

let’s gather next week Thursday (13:00-17:00) to play / improvise / talk and close the Carpet Season of Interdisciplinary Instant Composition together.

We can look back and ahead, or just enjoy each others company in performing and being. It’s up to us!

For an idea of how big the group will be, please announce if you want to come as well by writing a comment to this post below.

There will be at least 11 of us: Johnny, Kristien, Weijke, Suzan, Tanaquil, Thomas, Zwaan, James, Esmeralda, Manuela & Natanja

See you then!


Session 2 about the Speaking Performer: March, 31st

Just to inform you briefly that after last week’s inspiring kick-off session of “The speaking body and the speaking bubble”, Ron Bunzl and Ralph de Rijke will take over the facilitation of a follow-up session on

31st of March 2016

They will be posting their invitation and ideas in due course, but if you are interested, you can already reserve the date!


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.