Choreo vs. Impro

The glass is either half full or half empty.

Wrong. It’s both. Those two states are not mutually exclusive.

Been thinking about choreography, improvisation, definitions a lot since M2M ’09. Had an “aha” moment the other day driving home. No piece is either choreographed or improvised. All pieces are both. Even the most rigorously choreographed piece has a vast number of variations each time it is performed. And each improvisation has a lot of choreography i.e. habit, physical limitations etc.

Also the question of which elements are improvised and which are choreographed arises. For several years, Lower Left has been choreographing pieces using the lights. We predetermine(choreograph) what the lights will be and how long each will be on and what the transitions will be. What our bodies do within those lights is improvised. But then there is the question of habits and current injuries and what other information we have been taking in recently. All those elements can limit or choreograph us.

In fact with each improvisation each piece that people claim is “open” has a huge amount of predetermined factors:
-Gravity
It will still be same throughout the piece. There might be some fluctuation due to the moon and the earth’s spinning core or other factors. But essentially the same.
-The Theater
Not many pieces change venues partway through. How many improvisations have decided to leave the building completely? (How about choreographing a piece but improvising the theater/location?)
-Performers
yes, people do enter and exit the performance space, but they are still the performers. How do we improvise the performers. Beside the names in a hat thing, because that is from a predetermined set of performers.
Costumes
The pieces I have been in that had costume changes were choreographed as were the costume changes. I haven’t been in a single improvisation in which I had the opportunity to improvise my costume. I have disrobed, maybe that counts. But never had an improvisation with costume as an equal improvisational element. Must look into this.
-Bodies
I always (for the most part) have the same body. I have never been able to grow extra legs on stage. Never have I seen anyone improvise on stage how many limbs s/he had.

Every piece is choreographed and every piece is improvised. The question is what elements are the choreographed ones and which ones are the improvised ones. And the next question is how tightly each one is improvised and choreographed.

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