Dance Improvisation Performances

Original Performance on January 1, 1972

1972 –  Starting in 1972, every six to 10 weeks,  Maida Withers, Brook Andrews, John Bailey, and GW MA graduate students created dance and movement improvisation events in GW’s Building K gymnasium and Building J dance studio spaces and in sites around Washington, DC.  John Driscoll became an important collaborator as a visual artist and sculptor working with electronic technology  in creating sound with objects.

Improvisation continued to be an important aspect of experimentation on the founding of Maida Withers Dance Construction Company.

1979 – A series of scripted and improvised dance performance events with MWDCCo dancers and musician / sculptor, John Driscoll, creating and altering the performance space with sculptural objects and everyday items during the event.

1981 “MWDCCo presents a spontaneous, scripted evening-length, improvisation performance in GW’s Building K Theatre, December 6, 1981 and December 7, 1981.

Example of content: For one of the more memorable events, Driscoll brought a live fish on the end of a fishing rod and line. At was at these events that we asked the question, “Can the musician be a sculptor and a musician at the same time?” “Can the dancer fish and dance at once?”  Many events were held in GW’s Studio K Theatre, Washington, DC.  Many events took place in various locations in Washington, DC.  For example one Sunday we performed in as many water fountains we could locate in Washington, DC.  Performances were made without permits, generally….more like guerilla performances with found audiences and found locations.

Event/performances were serious artistic concerns during this experimental period with a desire to connect with audiences.  Humor and nonsense were inevitable due to the constructions we created with objects, movement limitations, etc.  No written record has been located for most of these events.

Improvisation performance and events have been an important consistent aspect of MWDCCo.  Withers includes opportunity for improvisation in almost all choreographed dances.  Withers feels if she can improvise in choreography why not all dancers? The definition of improvisation has expanded and clarified over the years.  In addition to independent performances of improvisation,  that skill is required in most rehearsals and is essential to the process of MWDCCo.  It is a skill to be learned.

Improvisation events and dances are given names and are included with other choreography in the archives purposely due to our belief that it is a genre of art comparable to choreography.

Artists and Collaborators