my journey as a dance improvisation artist

For forty years I have been engaged in a dedicated practice of dance improvisation. My encounter with this work in my early twenties transformed my life. As an earnest young student in a beginning improvisation class, I understood in a flash of insight that everything I would ever need to know was already present within me. I took this life-affirming message to mean that each one of us is graced with latent potential, talents that are waiting to be uncovered and brought to consciousness. I intuited that life was a process of self-discovery and a quest for meaning. In my own case this journey unfolded through my exploration of embodied intelligence.

I was catapulted into a life that has been more than I could have imagined. I realized I was an improviser, and went on to study Aikido, Meditation, the Development of Consciousness and the Alexander Technique as ways of supporting my path forward. I have become an international teacher/performer of improvisation who continually travels the world sharing my knowledge about the potential that dance has to liberate, and bring us to a deeper understanding of ourselves and each other. Over the past 12 years, I have held a fulltime position as a university professor of improvisation, instructing young students at the beginning of their dance exploits. 

I did not plan any of this. Something has propelled me along this journey of discovery, in which listening to life seems to be the key.

Reaching 60, I have decided to create this website as a means of documenting the many projects and collaborations I have had the pleasure of participating in over the years, as well as a place to publish information about my ongoing workshops and classes. 

performance & collaboration

My research as a performer is to explore the nature of meaning as it arises in each moment and situation. My performances are often collaborative, site-specific and cultivate an intimate relationship with the audience. Through the use of humor, eye contact, dialogue and proximity, I invite the audience to join me on a journey as I negotiate my way through present moment decision-making that is inherent in improvised performance.

My mission as an Improvisation artist is to honor the individual within the collective, make room for difference within the harmony of relating, learn by making mistakes, search for solutions, and to create new movement-based languages through the exploration of gravity and weight.
Improvisation is a practice of confronting what is real, recognizing/listening/responding to what is occurring in the moment—and honing the body/mind to a state of readiness and continual questioning. This constitutes a state of mind where embodied awareness and physical action are simultaneous. It is in retrospect that the results of the split-second timing of awareness-in-action can be analyzed. This process provokes a continual revelation about oneself, others, the artistic creation and the world around us.

My ability to communicate with diverse populations and to bring people together in a state of heightened sensitivity comes from my depth of understanding the language of the body. For forty years I have passionately pursued my Improvisation practice, thereby refining my skills of communication through touch and the natural rhythms of the body, creating a physical and philosophical practice that facilitates bridge building across cultures and disciplines.

At its foundation, the practice of Improvisation is about transforming a fear-based relationship with what is unknown and unpredictable into one of excitement about the potentiality that each moment offers us, and can lead an individual to discovering a way of living where constant alert awareness, questioning, and curiosity are the norm.

performance & collaboration

My research as a performer is to explore the nature of meaning as it arises in each moment and situation. My performances are often collaborative, site-specific and cultivate an intimate relationship with the audience. Through the use of humor, eye contact, dialogue and proximity, I invite the audience to join me on a journey as I negotiate my way through present moment decision-making that is inherent in improvised performance.

My mission as an Improvisation artist is to honor the individual within the collective, make room for difference within the harmony of relating, learn by making mistakes, search for solutions, and to create new movement-based languages through the exploration of gravity and weight.
Improvisation is a practice of confronting what is real, recognizing/listening/responding to what is occurring in the moment—and honing the body/mind to a state of readiness and continual questioning. This constitutes a state of mind where embodied awareness and physical action are simultaneous. It is in retrospect that the results of the split-second timing of awareness-in-action can be analyzed. This process provokes a continual revelation about oneself, others, the artistic creation and the world around us.

My ability to communicate with diverse populations and to bring people together in a state of heightened sensitivity comes from my depth of understanding the language of the body. For forty years I have passionately pursued my Improvisation practice, thereby refining my skills of communication through touch and the natural rhythms of the body, creating a physical and philosophical practice that facilitates bridge building across cultures and disciplines.

At its foundation, the practice of Improvisation is about transforming a fear-based relationship with what is unknown and unpredictable into one of excitement about the potentiality that each moment offers us, and can lead an individual to discovering a way of living where constant alert awareness, questioning, and curiosity are the norm.

KirstieSimson-Performance

As a teacher of Dance Improvisation my interest is in engaging all people in the experience and vitality of pure creation in moment-to-moment virtuosic improvisation. What inspires my work is the constant rediscovery of how such exploration can serve as a catalyst for learning opportunities that will benefit the individuals for the rest of their lives.

I understand learning as a transformation of self-discovery through a process of uncovering and revelation, and it is my belief that all people hold within themselves the potential for great creative achievement.

Our bodies are designed for movement, and it is our birthright to engage and enjoy embodied intelligence. Through the investigation of simple movement practices we can generate a state of body/mind that is of great benefit to our overall sense of wellbeing, one that can enhance and potentially transform our relationship to being alive.

When I am not teaching at the University of Illinois, I facilitate workshops
throughout the world, sharing my passion for the exploration of dynamic
freedom and unity through improvisatory dance.