questions are a gift

Ali, Mom, NYC

Few months back, I was part of a symposium at NYU/Tisch on ensemble improvisation called Form in Question. Before arriving, K.J. Holmes invited me to be part of a group that would perform during her session and I ended up part of a sextet with Jennifer Monson, Linda Austin and musicians Kris Apple, Robert Kaplan, and David Rothenberg. It was an incredible experience as was the rest of the weekend – full of reflection and action in the field of improvisation dance/theater/stuffs. Plus I got to take my mom to the city for her first visit and meet the infamous artist Ali who took us roun to all the stuff for mom to see. Along with experiences in some amazing working sessions with Lisa Nelson, Doing By Doing (Rachel Rosenthal’s), and K.J., I also came away with a specific list of questions generated on the last day by the approximately 100 folks present.

These are dope ass ideas bubbling among some of our contemporaries right now. I have much gratitude for all present that weekend and I pass this list of questions onto you from everyone.

I think it’s a good list of questions to apply to whatever field you are in, whatever day you begin.


FORM in QUESTION 2016Jan symposium NYU/Tisch (questions shared on final day):

when is active leadership an asset or a hindrance to a process?

are the traditional words “creativity” and “imagination” still relevant?

how can interspecies ensemble practice help expand our acceptance and inclusion of other beings?

how can this work continue to serve the greater project of human evolution in wider and wider ways?

means or end?

what is ensemble improvisation – what defines it?

what do we actually watch on stage, why?

what are we actually doing onstage?

how can i/we build an audience’s capacity for complexity in performed improvisation?

is/can the audience be an ensemble? what are the perils to this idea?

what is the difference between language and lingo?

how do the words ‘meaning’ and ‘meaningful’ serve us when discussing dance improvisation?

what metaphors for ensemble can we create to question the assumed? definition, description, understanding…

where is our freedom?

who is NOT in the room at this symposium and what are the complex reasons why? (it was mostly white folks of the same(ish) class, ability, and ideology… again)

how to be an elder/mentor?

how can you compose while you improvise?

what is the impetus behind the questions about methods of improvisation and words?

how does movement improv support a writing class?

what is the source for your practice?

what is motivation behind posing choreography/improvisation as a duality problem to solve?

ongoing question involves survival and creating, taking care of oneself and our fellow humans and planet, while making great art and ‘following our bliss’…

how do / how could improvisational practices change the world?

what do we mean by improvisation? is there not improvisation in hiphop, vogue, jazz, bomba, plenary. or is it eurocentric? how can these forms have access here?

what can dance improvisation practices learn from other forms of ensemble improvisation (especially in the relationship between the act of improvising and the making/production/experiencing of meaning in performance)? AND v.v. – what can other forms of theater-based ensemble improv learn from improvisation practices that are attuned to dance composition? AND how do we distinguish, name, articulate these nuances of practice?

what is your relationship to structure, whether imposed or emergent?

what are the political and social implications of what we do?

what do we need to get to ignored to get to the work of real inclusivity?

how do we go forward to articulate and de-privilege essentializing what we do?

can this language be simpler?


I didn’t share a question that day. But some of the questions I think about are:

What are the different ways to be in relation to my perception?

Relationality. Time.

Helping the world room is important. Keep exploring ways to be. This is a form of question for me. A prompt.