About – detailed and practical

The Carpet Collective is an open network/pool of instant composition practitioners from various disciplines.

We maintain a weekly space in Amsterdam that is a research garden and training ground for improvisation and instant composition.

Sessions are run by professional artists for other professional artists in the field of improvisation performance.

We work in little research cycles of a small number of consecutive sessions. The research is run by one or two artists who invite people, give structure to those sessions and lead them. They choose a research topic that they are interested in at the moment, as long as it concerns aspects of instant composition performance and interdisciplinarity.

All workcycles are open to be joined by any professional artist from this network of improvisers. You are merely asked to announce that you wish to participate by commenting on the blog post that invites for the session. Normally, new people join by colleagues inviting other colleagues. But don’t hesitate to contact us via this website if you would like to join a session or would be interest to lead a research.


What is it all about?
We want to provide a regular space in Amsterdam for the practice and research of interdisciplinary instant composition on a professional level. We are interested in building a community of improvisation practitioners that shares and develops methods of interdisciplinarity together.

Our intention is:

1. To develop an interdisciplinary and genre-uninhibited improvisation culture, which means

  • a wide attention for the work methods in music/dance/theatre/visuals/performance art/ etc…
  • focussing on the principles of instant composition that can be shared across disciplines (rather than focussing on taste, genres or performance styles)
  • testing and developing work methods that are adequate for such an inclusive approach.

2. To provide a regular professional space to train as an improvisation performer and be nurtured by other people’s imagination and skill, outside of the pressure of projects/concerts/performances.

We are also maintaining an Improvisation Knowledge Base on this website. The idea is to have, over time, a body of theoretical knowledge that improvisers of any background can use. Which vocabulary is open and specific enough so that we all can agree on it, no matter from which discipline we come, when talking about instant composition? You are very much invited to contribute and discuss the topics so that the texts become more and more usuable as ‘general knowledge’ for interdisciplinary improvisation.

Practicalities – joining

The weekly sessions are on Thursdays from 13:00 to 17:00 (not each and every Thursday, just check the blog for the current sessions. Also session leaders might define their beginning/ending times differently.)

Where? In the dansstudio Vredenburgersteeg, 5 minutes from CS in Amsterdam (Vredenburgersteeg 31-35). The Vredenburgersteeg is a little alley connecting Zeedijk and Oudezijds Voorburgwal.

In order to join a session you are asked to announce that you are coming by writing a Comment to the session invitation that has been posted on the blog. This is important so that a session leader knows how big the group is that he has to prepare for, and which disciplines are present.

The project carries itself through the participating artists (studio space rental / organisation)  To be able to pay for the studio space (we rent it for a whole season from September to June) and to keep organisation to a minimum, we use the following scheme:

You can give a few euros (gliding scale of 5,- to 10,-) if you just come for a singular session, but we prefer that you give 50 Euro for an ‘all-season membership’ – then all sessions during that season (Sept-June) are free for you to join. And if you really have trouble with money at the moment, just talk to us. Current details on the cost sharing can be found here.

There is no pressure about how often you join a session – just respect the boundaries for participation that a specific projectleader might set (He/she might ask for full participation throughout all sessions of his/her research, or for example that only the first session of a cycle is open on a “turn-up and join” basis, and the following sessions are limited to those people who came to the first session). Again, check the blog for that.

In general terms, the professionals who gather around the Carpet Sessions are taking care of this initiative
by leading the work in turns (at the moment: 2 or 3-week project cycles lead by one or two session leaders)
by playing/performing in the sessions on a regular basis (but there is no pressure to be there all the time)
by sharing the costs of the studio

Practicalities – leading sessions

The session/project leaders propose their theme/research by presenting it on the internet. They also invite a specific number of particiapants personally, whoever they need to do their research with. (this assures that a session leader is not dependant on who turns up on a sessions. organise a possibility to have a coffee with them before the cycle of work they are leading will start. (this to have questions asked, inspire the sessions leaders and sharpen their minds by reflecting on their plan – but also to simply have regularly the possibility to meet and talk about other things, around the sessions)

The challenge to the session leaders is to create a cycle of sessions that is contained/focussed (with the performers you choose as a core group to do the research with you), but at the same time open to a bigger number of performers from the Carpet community joining and affecting your research. Session leaders can make rules about participation that work for them and are in interest of the quality of the work.  (for example allowing only the first of the three sessions to be open to anyone, and the other two sessions only open to those performers who came to the first one.)

In other words: The sessions shouldn’t become private rehearsals, but in between that and the “everything-open-to-everyone” concept there is room to define your own rules. Some work forms and research interests might allow much more openness than others.

The session leaders are taking care that everything they need for their sessions will be present. (ask around if you need something special)

Generally in the space are a waterkooker, a stereo connected to speakers, cups, chairs and mats. There are many contact points for electricity but no other equipment for light or sound.

The key for the space is with the current project leaders, and otherwise with Thomas. Also Bettina has a key for the space.

Unfortunately we are not allowed to store things in the space from one week to the next.

Obviously, it is important that we take care of the space responsibly. This includes avoiding extreme noise levels during the sessions (there are people living in the same building).


General assumptions for the work

We are using instant composition as a general term for all disciplines. A definition could be: Instant composition describes the act or skill of composing pieces (of whichever genre or style), in a live performance situation, with either limited or no predetermined material or structure.

The principles of instant composition are those issues which an improviser (of whichever discipline) has to know about and practise for his skill of composing instantly, in live performance.
Everybody has different words for these issues, and there are loads of methods to train improvisation performance. We are interested to find a common vocabulary that goes beyond a particular ‘school’ of improvisation training. To give some examples of words that describe principles: seperate/include, change/sustain, arrive/depart, solo-duet-trio-quartet-etc, performer/audience, time, rhythm, emptyness/fullness,… These are examples of issues which translate into any discpline, whether you are making music, act, dance or manipulate the performance space by visual or other means.

Interdisciplinarity in instant composition can mean many things, but we are in first instance interested in how to compose together as improvisers who work from the strength of their native discipline. This as opposed to the idea that interdisciplinarity is about making every performer do everything (dancers speak and musicians move etc.). Of course these things are allowed to happen, especially if performers are trained multidisciplinary. Also, for training purposes, it can be fruitful to dive into a discipline you do not know in order to understand more about it. But the focus of the sessions is not to train you in a ‘new’ discipline. The challenge is to reach across disciplines, affect each other and compose pieces while each performer works with the ‘performance instrument’ that he/she knows intimately and profoundly.

What are the current sessions? (take me to the posts!)