by Lynn Matluck Brooks and Zornitsa Stoyanova
Written for thinkingdance.net
Two thINKingDANCE authors intertwine their takes on performances at the NowHere Festival of Free Improvisation.
“What is free improvisation?” asks a sign on the wall. Around it, festival participants and attendees offer their thoughts on Post-it notes, stuck to the wall of the performance space.
Post-it #1: Free improvisation is
“a utopian thought that together,
on the ground, we can
investigate an aesthetic ideal.”
ZS: For me “free” improvisation means a constant interrogation of the situation and the ability of the performers to illuminate their internal and external experience, which includes us—the audience—and the world at large. Asimina Chremos did exactly this, speaking a playful and political stream of consciousness, her body revealing the power dynamics in the room. Other performers did a commendable job, though they often got stuck on trying to build something cohesive, either in expression or story. While successful in creating a beautiful improvised performance, I’m not certain that it was necessarily “free” improvisation. But, what does “free” mean? NowHere Festival’s Friday night show had a European flare: dim string lights, homemade food, and drinks served between each of the four sets. Almost three hours long, the work presented was engaging, interesting, and at times brilliant.
Friday Set 1: Dancer and Philly legend, Germaine Ingram, danced and sounded along with saxophonist Keir Neuringer. He crouched, resonating his saxophone toward the floorboards – filling the space with traveling sound. Germaine towered over him. She sang with her soul, vibrating her being outward. When they finally made eye contact, the energy in the room solidified into a brilliant cohesion.