Who Said that Only Jazz Players Improvise?
by Gisela Gold
on May 9, 2008
I’m used to seeing people who let music drain form their veins, gather their troops and make up solos from each instrument to give our ears good sounds. They play in jam sessions. We think these guys are crazy as we leave and that they do that out of nowhere. It’s like a good wind comes and makes their fingers itchy. Then, in that moment, they start blowing something new, and we don’t know exactly where it came from, but recognize some similarity with some kind of classic. But it’s still different. It’s their own kind. Let’s look it up in the dictionary and we’ll see that it sounds like something called improvisation.
One day I got things straight with one of these improvisers to check how he did it. He told me that it takes years of non-improvisation. Years of non-craziness. Years of dedicated studies. Whoever can make one’s finger juggle has enough intimacy with each part of the string he’ll balance himself on.
That’s what I felt with Illuminations. I saw the best of people who thrilled me intensely. The ballet of the fingers I referred to in the jazz improvisations was replaced by a body symphony composed of improvisations and prepared movements.
Everyday somebody asks us if that film is worth seeing or not, if that show is worth seeing or not, if that exhibit is worth seeing or not. So I’ll dare to say, in simple words, that good is whatever makes me feel different after I see it. If I feel the same as before, I say 'no'. Good is the art that makes our eyes jump. An eye that wants to be even more shaken up. An eye that notices that under an improvisation of head, torso and limbs, there are years of work and research. There’s affection when picking the music, when picking the elements and the bodies that will play in the scene and when trying to convey the successes and shortcomings of flirting with the other art: the painting. It’s good to see the swing of contemporary dance conveyed in that exact moment by the hands of a painter, who improvises from what he feels about that body beat. I’m no critic, just a human being who says 'wow', with a chill in my arms, whenever good art flirts with me.
Illuminations didn’t have a screenplay originally and attracted the eye of the filmmaker Ivy Goulart, who made it a film. That shows that it’s impossible to remain passive in front of people in movement. Illuminations gave me the chills, because it reminded me of my eyes of a child that see the play and the improvisation on stage. An improvisation like everything was created at that moment. And we pretend to believe, but feel deep inside that our eyes are amazed by the dancing of people who have already thought out every movement.