The Importance Of Improvisation In Dance

The Importance Of Improvisation In Dance

Movement or words that are made up on the spot.
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Choreography is the art of forming movement sequences. Most choreographed pieces are designed before a performance is staged. Improvisation in dance is the art of executing movements without any prior preparation. Improvisation explores the body's shape, different levels and dynamics. I will be discussing the correlation between set choreography and improvisation in dance. It allows creative juices to flow and helps one to really understand the music they are choreographing to. I will discuss the benefits of solo improvisation and I will also discuss the relationship between set choreography and improvisational dancing. Improvisation can have a big impact and a great help with choreographed pieces.


Before I go into depth of the benefits of improvisation to choreography, I would first like to discuss the benefits of solo improvisation in dance. Improvisation is a very important skill for someone to study. It has many different benefits to it’s act. For example, improvisation can boost one’s confidence. Getting to comfortable in only dancing to predetermined, choreographed pieces can be mentally dangerous. This is because it can lead to insecurities with one's dancing. Practicing improvisational skills can allow for dancers to not be afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes and correcting mistakes are an essential part to the training and learning experience. Improvisation can also lead to self-discovery. This means that improvisation can help dancers to find out who they are as dancers, what style they like and even what they would like to do with dance in their future endeavors.

Another important aspect to dance that would benefit from the practice of improvisation is musicality. By allowing dancers to freely move to the music, they tend to start to move to the beat of the music. This will help with musicality because it will allow for the dancers to be able to connect movements from a dance to the music. Lastly, another way that improvisation is beneficial to a dancer is that it will help to aid performance recovery. (This means that when a dancer misses, forgets, or falls out of a step they are able to recover from it and make the mistake look seamless.) Improvisation can help with situations like this because the more a dancer is comfortable with coming up with something on the spot and using spontaneity, the easier it will be to cover up a mistake made on stage. Improvisation can be extremely beneficial to a dancer in many different ways.


Improvisation is a key aspect to choreography. Improvisation can lead to better choreography, and make the creation of choreography easier.I believe that in order to choreograph it is very important to have a clear, stress-free mindset.Improvisation can help to get the creative juices flowing. Just one full hour of solo improvisation can lead to more creativity and ideas. Improvisation boosts quick thinking, clears distracting thoughts, communication skills and self-expression. Sometimes choreographs start to use the same types of moves and skills over and over again. Authors say, “choreographers fall into ruts where they use the same combinations of positions and skills over and over again.” This problem can be solved by using improvisation. Improvisation can lead to new discoveries in a dancer's body and fresh new ideas for choreography.

Choreographer William Forsythe practices improvisation for choreography and teaches classes based off of that idea. Forsythe would break improvisation into around 30 smaller, individual movements, which he called “modalities,” the site explained. These smaller movements, like collapsing and folding, then served as building blocks to create new dances. He picks certain types of movements that he uses when he improvises, for ideas for newly choreographed pieces. He uses these movements as a way to get creative ideas flowing and as a start to new choreography. Helen Pickett took one of Forsythe’s improvisation classes. She says, “It opens up avenues that allow you to expand your ideas of what you thought your body could do,” She means that improvisation can lead a dancer to learn new things about their body’s range of movement which can open many different doors for choreography. By becoming more comfortable with thinking differently, choreography will become easier and flow better because as a dancer becomes more confident with their abstract ideas, their choreographed dance will become more true to themselves and the dance will be more creative.

According to researcher Minton, “The first step in creating a dance study is to discover appropriate movement through improvisation.” Minton is saying that improvisation is necessary in order to start a choreographed piece. Improvisation can also be used in choreography to get rid of mental blocks. Mental blocks are when someone can not think of anything to do at the moment. This kind of thing can be extremely frustrating when creating a dance. When someone is improvising, for the most part, the dance flows and it becomes a dance very easily. It is very common for a choreographer to find set movement that they would like to use in their piece through improvisation, but for various sections of the dance. For example, they may find the last section of a piece through an improvisation practice, before finding the beginning or middle. Improvisation is a very big factor in the creative process of choreographing. Improvisation is a very important practice that dancers should study.


Choreography is the sequence of different movements or steps. Improvisation is movement or words that are made up on the spot. Improvisation is very spontaneous. I believe that there is a very strong correlation between improvisation and set choreography. Improvisation is the building blocks and the starting point of a choreographed dance. In my opinion, improvisation is an art form that is necessary to study. Not only to improve skills as a dancer technically but to better oneself in choreography as well. Improvisation helps choreography by allowing creative freedom. It opens up the playing field to different movement and free movement. Improvisation can allow a choreographer to find new moves they had never thought of before and skills to add to a piece they are working on. Improvisation in choreography can be extremely helpful. Improvisation is a very big help to starting a dance that has set choreography.

Cover Image Credit: Dancer

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