holistic · improv
~ Our Approach to Community Learning ~
What can we create?
What wisdom can we discover?
What skills can we learn?
We practice an artform called applied improv, which is about connecting the principles of improvisation to everyday life. It’s about healing our inner child, seeking personal growth, and moving towards collective responsibility with a playful mindset. Our practice relies on critical improvisation studies, a field of interdisciplinary research that explores improv in political, cultural, and spiritual contexts.
Improv is about embodied listening and resourcefulness in the present moment. It's about finding potential in what readily available and adapting to change. In our work, we translate the theory and playful practice of artistic improv to concepts of global citizenship, ecology, and wellness. Our work is therapeutic, but it is not therapy. It's social emotional learning.
The word therapy usually refers to institutionalized mental health care, which improv is decidedly not. Although therapy can refer to a wide range of care work that includes expressive arts, traditional medicines, and spiritual practice, the therapy we're talking about refers to Eurocentric psychotherapy and counseling from licensed individuals.
Therapy comes from the Greek word therapia which means healing. Improv is healing so, in a sense, improv is "like therapy” because it facilitates resilience in the face of the unknown, develops meaningful relationships, and deepens our sense of self. Improv, however, is not an intervention nor a substitute for specialized care.
We recommend therapy. We believe professional mental healthcare is as necessary as brushing your teeth. We believe everyone should pursue talk therapy with a liberation focused healer, and everyone has a right to compassionate, culturally responsive healthcare. We believe it is important for individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD or other forms of struggle to have access to licensed and loving medical professionals. This is not the world we live in, but we hope it is the one we are working towards.
Bottom Line: Mental health is health; and none of us can get free if we don't take care for our mind, body and spirit - collectively.
Play is one of the most therapeutic activities that we engage in. Play is the mindful exploration of joy. Play encourages risk-taking, interconnectivity, and self-expression. These embodied practices re-create feelings of belonging. That's why they're recreational. Perhaps you play music or sports. Perhaps you play games. Maybe you role play. When we play together, we stay together, which means we stay whole. We play together and we stay united. We play together and we support each other's joy.
We engage a praxis of play in all our work. We believe work is a function of play and play is liberation-focused work. Play centers happiness and wellbeing. It invites us to be daring. It challenges us to confront our failures and grow. It invites us to connect and understand that life is about so much more than struggle. It’s also about celebration, resilience, and community.
If life isn’t fun, if we're not intentional about joy, then why are we healing? Yes, healing hurts, but does healing really happen if we can’t cultivate happiness in the end and along way?
Mapping the Work
Our approach to improv engages three areas of study:
Applied Improvisation | This field of study explores the lessons that improv has to teach us about how we communicate, collaborate, and innovate as a collective. It helps us to improve our sense of self and our sense of belonging in community.
Critical Improvisation Studies | This field of improv explores the intersections of spirituality, politics, and culture. It invites people to be curious about where improvisation lives, where it is emerging, and how spontaneous action can shift paradigms internally and externally.
Artistic Improvisation | This field of improv is concerned with creating new works of art that explore culture and community. Hip-Hop, dance, drag, comedy, DIY crafts, and even everyday conversation are examples of artistic improvisation.
We believe that improv is a visionary art form because everything can be viewed through the lens of improv. Its applications are vast, its concepts are subtle and its implications are profound.
We create improv and improv creates us. Learn more about our offerings: