Spring 2024 - CA 124 D100

Improvisation Tools and Scores (3)

Class Number: 6332

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Tue, Thu, 12:30–2:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Daisy Thompson
    Office Hours: available for meetings by appointment throughout the term.
  • Prerequisites:

    Declared dance major, extended minor, or permission from instructor.



Movement improvisational skills will be explored in a variety of solo, duet, group forms through structured movement themes and scores. Emphasis will be on sensory awareness, elements of movement, and composition.


Whether as performer, maker, or teacher, an important element of your artistry is to explore the power of your expressive body. Dance practice and performance reveals and enhances our kinesthetic capacities through what Maxine-Sheets Johnstone describesas “knowing ourselves as movement – not as bodies that move”. By knowing ourselves as movement, we can draw attention to the infinity of our moving body’s capacities and its affective reach. This course introduces the student to dance improvisation as an integrated technical, compositional, and performance practice. We will explore a nexus of ideas, intentions, and movement concerns, gaining a deeper understanding of the complexity and depth of improvisation as a vehicle for tuning into the present moment, attentiveness to the emergence of nascent ideas, performance practice, and enhancing awareness and response to ever-changing contexts. These skills will be developed through structured exercises and scores that include solo, duet, and group activities, activating greater sensory awareness, sharper intuitive decision making, and a compositional sensing of the individual body in relation to the broader action and architecture. Additionally, we will explore the use of text, sound, and images, and we will delve into readings that analyse different artists’ methods and practice. To further expand your understanding of improvised composition, performance, and technical practice, assignments will include practical score-making tasks (solo and group), short written assignments, and a work journal with weekly reflections.


  • Advance and further develop kinesthetic, intellectual, relational, energetic, and creative capacities in one’s own dancing and dancing with a group within improvised performance structures.
  • Develop a strong connection between the imagination and the moving body.
  • Become versatile with different approaches to movement scores and creation.
  • Demonstrate personal ownership of embodied movement, and awareness of how one is affected by and affects a group creative and collaborative space.
  • Develop a nuanced understanding of the benefits of risk taking and rigour.
  • Interact safely and respectfully with other students towards creating an affirmative shared experience.


  • Participation 40%
  • Creative assignments 30%
  • Short Written assignments 20%
  • Work journal 10%


COURSE EVALUATION: Grades will be based on the following:

  • Participation – 40%: Daily commitment to the working process and a proactive approach to practice. This includes timely completion of practical and written assignments, attitude, thoughtful participation in discussions, attendance, playfulness, risk, generosity, leadership, respectful and active collaboration.
  • Creative assignments – 30%: Devising 2 creative scores:
    • 10% Solo score 3-5 minutes
    • 20% Group score (4-5 people) 7-10 minutes
  • Short Written assignments – 20%: 2-parts
    • A) short analysis of an artist or an artist’s group practice drawing from 1of the essays from the required reading list that makes a connection to their practice. 500 words. Does not need to be as formal as an academic essay, but it does need a title, page numbers, double-spaced, font size 12, and quotes and readings need to be cited, including bibliography (bibliography not included in word count)
    • B) Process reflection of either solo or group assignment. 500 words. Include title, page numbers, double-spaced, font size 12, and quotes and readings need to be cited, including bibliography (bibliography not included in word count)
  • Work Journal 10% – Minimum 10 completed entries (out of possible 14) – can include notes, questions, doodles, ideas, reflections, etc. Minimum 250 words.



Bring a notebook/journal to write in. Ideally one with removable pages


Readings are provided by the instructor and available on Canvas as PDFs.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html