Archives for posts with tag: improvistaion class

Paul Pavey ` wolf instruments`` Visual and Aural Counterpoint `. In Part 1, the previous blog, I covered my approach to commencing a dance improvisation class. This is the continuation where I will attempt to write about the use of counterpoint between what you see and what you hear.

Whereas in a technique class, the musical accompaniment  supports and follows the movement sequence, in an improvisation class the music may take on a compositional aspect. I always look for opportunities to play some `visual and aural counterpoint` which may increase the effect and experience of any given situation. For example; open atmospheric sounds against fast frenzied movement or happy and jolly musical themes against melancholy or aggressive movement.

Only using counterpoint may prove less effective than if it is used after a period where the music has followed either movement or a narrative. Counterpoint is neither easily understood by  children or inexperienced dancers/ performers and can lead to confusion. I would usually avoid it when playing for  those type of classes.

Here is a clip of Foofwa d’Imobilité interviewing Merce Cunningham discussing a point that music and dance do not always noticeably `fit` together and how and possibly why an audience is now accepting of that.

I think that aural and visual counterpoint increases the effect upon a third party/ audience providing it is used with purpose.  Definitely an effective tool in the creative box!


There may  be  an exercise during  a dance class or indeed an entire class dedicated to movement improvisation. Here are some ways that I approach music for this environment.

Possibly, whoever is leading the improvisation may give  a specific musical direction for  the music.

Quite often, the dancers are given a brief form of direction and the musician is then asked to `play when ready`.  My first response in this case, is to wait and  envelope the ambience of the room listening to the general environment for sounds. It is a very rare occasion that you will ever find silence (don`t think I ever have). I usually begin to play quietly and attempt to blend with the environmental sound scape attempting not to affect any one particular person in the space. Whatever the instrumentation, I am looking to create as varied a timbre as possible.

I may react and make a dialogue with any one of the environmental sounds and have found that this  opens  the ears and encourages sensitivity,  inspiring  fellow protagonists to create their movement from yet another dimension.

This clip shows Michael Schumacher in the process of developing a student choreography,  a fantastic performer, choreographer and teacher of Improvisation.

To be continued.