Improvisation is the spontaneous movement from yes to yes to yes as we engage freely with what is present right here, right now.
- Improvisation allows more freedom for the co-creators.
- We learn to feel and act from our YES, knowing that this will lead to another yes and another, in the infinite game.
- To improvise adeptly brings us into the present moment with embodied listening, feeling, responding, and allowing.
In contact improvisation dance, the co-creators will connect at a point of contact between their bodies. It could be a finger on a shoulder. It could be learning against another. It could even be falling to the ground and grabbing a leg!
The point of contact is real. SOMETHING has happened. Now what?
The “now what” is up to the co-creators of the dance. They could pause. They could keep moving. They could come closer… or move farther away. They can add points of contact… or disconnect if that is their yes.
Can you feel the immense potential in each moment?
An email or text we receive is the same – there’s a point of contact. Since we’re not pre-programmed (although it can feel that way sometimes), we have choice. Reply now or not? What emotional energy am I offering? Will my words be useful but abrupt… or like someone swinging their arms around as if trying to fly?
As a concept for thriving, adopting an attitude of improvisation is designed to free us from expectations, habitual patterns, and stuckness. We’re exploring… what is my yes here? We take that yes, move with it, and then sense our next yes… and the next.
The five-year plan is dead. Life brings shocks and surprises and unplannable contingencies. Pandemic anyone?
Yet, humans crave certainty! Planning helps us feel like we have a map to where we are going, even though a map doesn’t show all that might happen along the route. So, if you enjoy planning, do so!
Same with choreography. A choreography tells us to start here, do this, go there, then do this, then that, move there, do that, etc. If you’re developing an assembly line or a performance you want to be as close to identical from day-to-day, choreography is helpful for sure. Everyone learns their moves in sequence. If no one breaks a leg, it’s… “perfect” day-after-day.
Does that feel like thriving to you? For those of us who value freedom, scripted moves take away the moment-by-moment co-creativity that improvisation encourages.
Planning and choreography can also be less resilient. Improv teaches us to be with what is right now… and respond creatively and intentionally. If something breaks or someone leaves, we continue to improvise. If the weather changes, finances are strained, or a major client leaves… we improvise!
Yes to Yes to Yes. That doesn’t stop one of those yes’s from being “let’s stop and craft a plan to add some structure.” An improvisational attitude takes us beyond the limits of structure into dynamic and empowered response – individually and together.
Infinite games have no “endpoint.” No winner or loser is declared. The co-creating is intended to go on and on.
Yes, specific people may come and go… but the intention is for the game to continue even as it spontaneously morphs and changes to reflect what’s alive for the co-creators right now.
Improvisation is fuel for the infinite game. It keeps it alive and fresh. “Rules” are replaced by healthy boundaries that allow participants to engage from yes to yes without harm or disruption.
- What’s my yes here?
- What am I noticing…?
- How am I spontaneously inspired to respond?
- Do I feel my next action is “dictated” in some way, or do I feel free to choose from a palette of possibilities?
Co-Creating, Adapting, Allowing, Awareness, Better Boundaries, Influence, Inspired Action
We invite you to share your experiences and wisdom:
- Life examples where this concept has played a role
- Other useful questions
- Links to audios, videos, books, and courses that add to our shared understanding of this concept
- Memes, quotes, and inspiring images