This book examines the often-posited opposition between dance improvisation and choreography, despite the emergence in the last fifteen or twenty years of an all-encompassing, expanded notion of choreography. In this alleged relation of opposition, choreography is often identified with the ‘known’ and improvisation the ‘unknown’. Concomitantly, the more unknown and spontaneous the action, the more risk-taking will be involved. This book challenges this opposition and proposes that choreography and improvisation are indeed different approaches to making dances, but their differences are best exposed when one thinks of spontaneity, the notion at the core of the difference but hardly scrutinized, in a more dimensional, situated and less determined manner. Doing this helps us to understand not only how improvisation is indeed not just “spontaneous and free” and choreography not just a “system of command and obedience”, but also how improvisation does not necessarily entail more risk-taking than choreography. Risk-taking is as a multifaceted, distributed and situated process as are improvisation and choreography. In order to argue for this, the book engages with the work of two choreographers, Mary O’Donnell (Fulkerson) and Lia Rodrigues, as well as a vast and eclectic number of theories.

João Cerqueira da Silva Junior, PhD, is a dance practitioner, bodyworker and academic. He is currently senior teacher and researcher at ArtEZ University of the Arts, Arnhem (NL). He has published articles in Kinesis, ArtEZ Press, Dutch Society for Dance Research, Inflexions and Transcript and his current interests revolve around artistic research, intimacy and ‘going public’.