SKILLS and CRAFTSMENSHIP
If improvisation is a CRAFT, what can we define as general skills of this craftsmenship? Those skills which are not conncected to a specific discipline, but are needed by any improviser?
Here a list, as a proposal. Please add/comment from your experience and the practice in your own discipline.
– knowing your stuff (being proficient in your discipline, so that the technicality of mastering your ‘instrument’ is not an issue while improvising)
– the ability to listen (in the widest, multidiscplinary sense – we could also say ‘looking’/’tasting’/’sensing’. The ability to ‘have a subtle sense of the composition of the present moment’.)
– the ability to ‘tune in’ to others (which is a combination of listening and sending out. It not only means tuning in to your fellow performers (see also common ground‘), but also to the space you are in, and to the present audience.)
– the ability to lead and the ability to follow (and to easily switch between the two)
– the ability to ‘jump’ (being able to take action even if you can’t possibly know where it will lead)
– a sure sense of timing/rhythm/space (in a multidisciplinary sense)
– an understanding of beginnings and endings, of opening or closing a space/piece/chapter
– understanding of context (being able to gain clarity of the performance context your are starting from)
– understanding of dramaturgy (being able to follow a pre-set structure if that is part of the improvisation, but also being able to acknowledge structural components that appear in a piece while it is developing, and being able to act on that knowledge)
Anything in this list that should not be there? Any other skills that can be defined on an interdisciplinary level? Or is this list all wrong and should ‘improvisation skills’ be defined in a totally different way? Please comment or add your own descriptions.