Improvisation Handbook | Edited Collection

Oxford University Handbook on Improvisation in Dance
Edited by Vida L. Midgelow

This Handbook attests to the presence of improvisation in live and across many forms of dance as well as to ways improvisation has been developed and employed for far reaching purposes. The Handbook recognizes that improvisation has been a longstanding and central approach within the choreographic process for many dance makers; while for others it is a performance form in its own right. It is also a key, although often implicit and overlooked, feature of most social dance forms and is widely used within therapeutic, educational and other applied contexts. As such throughout the Handbook examples of improvised dancing from tango to therapy and contact to ballet are discussed. This breadth is important for it foregrounds improvisation in dance as it occurs in wide range of contexts – be it in theatres, community halls or hospitals. This very breadth expands our vision, such that the nature and significance of the improvisatory can be better understood.

Rather than focusing upon ways of doing improvisation, as a ‘how to’ book might (although there is certainly discussion of pedagogy), it incorporates historiographic, ethnographic and interview based approaches alongside perspectives drawn from philosophy, cognition and neuroscience, phenomenology, ecology, human geography and practice as research, to name but a few.

Over 40 new essays, organised into eight sections: ‘Live worlds and ethics’, ‘Attunement and perception’, ‘Habit, Freedom and Resistance’, ‘Memory and transmission’, ‘Agency and transformation’, ‘Interconnectivity, emergence and technologies’, ‘Ecology and Environments’ and lastly ‘Techniques, strategies and histories’, the collection positions dance in the centre of the emergent field of critical improvisation studies


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