A first proposal for discussion.

This page is about quality in improvisation work, which has at least two different aspects:

  • how to assess and evaluate the live event of an improvisation performance
  • how to asses and evaluate improvisation working concepts

“Quality” is a highly loaded, often misused and therefore problematic word. On the other hand, it seems to be one of the most accessible words we have in common usage to describe whether something has been or has not really been – ‘worth our time’.

Whether something is ‘worth our time’ is of course subjective. From practical experience however, quality also seems to be something that we have a collective sense for.
Usually, a group of people can have difficulties to come on the same page with each other about what exactly was working and not working when the performance or moment spent together was somewhat mixed, or mediocre. Often, this happens paired with the context or the execution lacking a certain clarity. But when something is really outstanding, then it usually also communicates very clearly what it wants to communicate, and in those moments, there tends to be a lot of inter-subjective (collective) agreement about quality.

So what can be said about ‘quality’ and ‘clarity’ in improvisation work? Can it be described without making the mistake to talk about our tastes (in for example aesthetics or performance styles)?

Is it possible to invent ways to evaluate improvisation processes in such a way that it is not judging the ‘aesthetics’ used, but rather that it simply deepens our understanding of such processes and what is needed to make them ‘work’? Along which parameters could we assess the value of these processes?
(For example, if the type of improvisation events that someone creates are not my cup of tea, I might still be able to relate to the underlying improvisation principles and see the quality of the particular strategies that the artist applied to make these kind of moments possible.)

So, fully conscious about the fact that this is not an easy subject, let us gather – for example – which kind of strategies improvisation practitioners use to ensure ‘quality’ in their work?

Or maybe you want to suggest a completely different way of treating this subject (under a different/better term than ‘quality’)?  🙂 Let us know!

Please react, add, etc..!

“I think I found the key to quality.”

posted by Catharine Cary, March 28, 2022

Last night, I was invited by Anis Gras (Le Lieu de l’Autre), Le Fondeur de Son and SHARE to JAM. And I think I found the key to quality. Everyone in the space took up the deep and sacred responsibility that everyone in the room, even the small child and a smaller dog, is responsible for the quality of the performance. Musicians, dancers, voicers, the pizzaoli and public alike were attentive like a bee sting, were listening with care, were sitting in configurations to spawn newness, were tuning their instruments gently, were asking for help, allowing for new meetings, open for 4 hours to whatever happened. There were familiars, newness, kindness, tolerance, excellences, excedences, jokes and joy. Quality in this case could be measured by how each new set made up a new barometer for the one to follow. Don’t need statistics or questionnaires. Just come, be, dance, play, be absolutely undividedly present. And eat pizza.