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UBC Colloquium 2009

Photo: Paul Steinbeck (UBC Postdoctoral Fellow and Keynote Speaker) Kevin McNeilly (UBC ICASP Site Coordinator and Colloquium Moderator), & technician at UBC/CJBS Colloquium, Vancouver February 6, 2009. (Photo by Frederique Arroyas)

Power Play: Improvisation and Sport

Creative Music Think Tank Symposium

February 6-7, 2009

Many improvising musicians who are fans of a variety of sports, including hockey and basketball, have identified parallels and synergies between athletic pursuit and contemporary creative music, such as the discourse of rules, set formations and plays, along with an improvisational or "thinking on your feet" approach to playing games. Mile David, for example, was an avid swimmer, and the poet Quincy Troupe has examined the connections between basketball and the drumming of Roy Haynes. John Zorn uses sport-based systems in his game compositions such as Lacrosse or Archery.

The symposium Power Play: Improvisation and Sport was presented by Coastal Jazz in conjunction with the Time Flies Improvised Music Festival. It provided artists, academics, athletes and fans an unprecedented opportunity to investigate ways in which both athletes and performers utilize improvisation when they play. The symposium covered many aspects of the cross-over between sport and musical pursuits: the identification of national cultural signifiers intrinsic to sport and music; the exploration of how signifiers are manifest in national protocols of training, teamwork, sportsmanship, rivalry, and cultural aesthetics; the place of the body and human kinetics in improvised performances; improvisation, dance and theatre sports; music in sport - improvising along with the crowds; game-theory and improvisation; improvisation and power - sport a discourse; sport as cultural or social pedagogy; improvisation, sports, and the law; bioethics and improvisation; and the gender politics of play.


  • Dr. Paul Steinbeck: Nothing but Net(works): Aspects of Modular Organization in Group Improvisation
  • Dr. Christian Munthe: Stretching the Performing Art-Sport Analogy Thin: Possible Conceptual and Normative Limits to the Room for Improvisation in Sport

2009 Conference Poster

2009 Conference Schedule

...the innovative working models of improvisation developed by creative practitioners have helped to promote a dynamic exchange of cultural forms, and to encourage new, socially responsive forms of community building across national, cultural, and artistic boundaries.

– Ajay Heble