In live arts the product of the work that has been done in advance needs to materialize at a pre-set moment. We may have worked conscientiously and be confident but this kind of work has a certain degree of instability, because it needs to be made on a certain “now” that may not offer the best circumstances. Everything that happened beforehand was preparation and needs to bloom when the cue “now!” comes. Worrying about the outcome pulls our attention out of “now” and into the future and can be overwhelming. If we stay in the present, “now” gets broken down into lots of minute “nows” which follow one another seamlessly. “Now” can create pressure, and “now” can relieve it.
Improvisation has always been used in live arts, either to generate material that is then set or as an approach to performance. No situation is exactly the same as a previous one and the most appropriate response needs to consider the specific internal and external circumstances at hand, rather than what happened in a previous similar event. That is improvisation. It’s not about acting randomly but about being honest with what is here and now. Considering the brain’s strategy of saving behaviour that has worked in an attempt to be energetically efficient and repeat the success, how much can we actually bypass our patterns and improvise? Conditioning is building up every day. Being true to the moment implies letting go of this buildup ongoingly.