This summer, for the first time in 14 years, The Architects did not gather to hold the space for the People known as MICI (Movement Intensive in Compositional Improvisation). Instead, we took a pause. We took a breath. We let the space be space, without rushing in to fill it. We decided to practice our pedagogy, and begin again.
We gathered for a week, in Portland, Maine, and gave ourselves the gift of simply being together, without the pressure or agenda that comes with teaching and facilitating an intensive for a large group. We affectionately called the week RICI (sounds like "Reachy" and stands for Research Intensive in Compositional Improvisation.) The experience felt at once like an incredible luxury and also an absolute necessity.
We spent the week immersed in (literal, physical, poetic, kinesthetic, philosophical, etc) conversation: in the studio, over long meals, on long walks in the woods, and on the shore. We approached each moment both as deep rest and deep research. We took up some questions we'd long wanted to wrestle with; we uncovered assumptions we didn't know we carried; we covered the studio walls with paper and wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more. We gave each conversation, each session, lots of time and space to emerge as it would.
We came away from the week with more questions (of course!) and a desire for more such deeply nourishing time together (ah! the vital importance of the Artist Retreat). We also came away with several clarities; among them, the need to write more, as individuals, and as a collective.
Although we have been working together professionally for nearly three decades, and our work and words have been cited in numerous publications by peers, we have yet to focus our attention on writing about our own practice and pedagogy in any extensive or ongoing way. But that is about to change!
Welcome to the (as yet untitled) Architects Blog, a space of weekly reflections, questions, observations and reports on a wide range of topics related to composition, improvisation, art-making, ensembles, and the wider collaborative project known as "being alive together".
In this space, we aim to practice what we preach, and show up to the blank page as fully and honestly as we can. As Jennifer often reminds us when we're moving in the space, we don't have to know what we are going to do before we enter. Equally important: we don't enter to find out if we're paying attention. We enter into the unknown already listening, with all receptors open to what forms will emerge.
We've drafted a short list of topics to unpack. Each week, we'll take turns offering some thoughts towards a deeper understanding of that topic, until each of us has had a say. This structure echos how we teach: riffing off each other, to collectively build an embodied understanding of what we perceive and practice. In between cycles, we'll share an experimental WILDCARD post, which will emerge from Architects text conversations.
(Texting, incidentally, stands as one of our most fruitful, potent, and hilarious vehicles for articulating complex ideas. Is it because there's no pressure? Or because text messages are written in the moment, without being precious? Is it the singular power of the short form, potent, like a haiku? Is it our unparalleled use of emojis? All of the above? Perhaps time will tell...)
You are warmly invited to follow along. And if you have ideas for topics you'd like to see us unpack, send them our way!
Yours in the unfolding,