What’s happening with me and Total Improv Kids!

I am back!

Hello everyone, and please forgive me for not having blogged sooner. I guess I just have too much going on, which is a good thing. I thought I’d take this moment (while I have one) to touch base and give an update as to what’s been going on.

As I wrote about last time, I was invited to speak at a conference in Paris for the Applied Improvisation Network. This is an amazing organization that I joined last year after I first discovered it. Through the organization, I met so many people from many different fields who are like-minded when it comes to the power of improvisation. Teachers, psychologists, corporate trainers…I met people from all over the world using improv to help people find improvements in ways they may not have even considered. I love this organization!

I was there to speak about child development through improvisation and I was happy to see that there were people in my audience from all over the world. In fact I will now be working with a teacher in Bucharest and Vienna that I met there. It was truly a place for collaboration around this important life-improving skill. I can’t wait to see the new friends I met once again when we have the next conference next August in Stony Brook, New York. The conference is going to be held in partnership with Alan Alda’s organization, where he’s been and exposing people from all different walks of life to the benefits of improvisation and how they could use it in their chosen fields. I would love to encourage all of you to think about attending the AI conference. You will come away with so much inspiration and you will network with so many people doing so many different things with it. It’s just inspiring and I would love you to be a part of this community, to help see it grow and grow. After 45 years of improvisation, I still find that there’s so much more to learn and so much that other people have to offer in terms of how they utilize the art form for practical purposes. This organization is helping me discover new things in my own work!

One of my former students named Brooke joined me at this conference. Brooke had been studying in London to become a theatrical director. However she never forgot her improvisation roots. In fact, while she was there she told me that she had an improv class and that her teacher felt that improvisation was pretty much about theatrical performances and comedy. Brooke raised her hand and begged to differ but the teacher was going to have none of it. When Brooke told her that there were many practical applications for improvisation, the teacher just argued with her and said “Are there any scientific studies on this?” To which Brook replied, “No but I’ll do one.” And so she did. She wrote her thesis on improvisation and self-concept after conducting a study with two groups of children to show that those kids who had some improv training did well or showed marked improvement compared to the group that did not.

I could not possibly be any prouder!

I asked her where she got a lot of her information from and she just looked at me and said, “YOU!” I guess sometimes when we’re in the middle of teaching, we just lose track or just take for granted what we’re doing and the impact we can have. Anyway, it was in that moment I decided to do something I had never done before. I decided that since I am completely convinced that this young lady gets it completely, that I need to give her a special graduation present. After all she just received her Master’s.

So I offered her the opportunity to open Total Improv Kids East in New York City! She was thrilled by the idea so I’m going to be bi-coastal! Who knew that one day I’d be going for my little corner in North Hollywood to New York City as well? I think Brooke will be the perfect person to pass the reins off to one day. I can’t wait to see what this opportunity does for both of us and kids looking to learn improv out east.

Meanwhile, I’m still working with other people around the country and actually around the world trying to spread the word about my techniques, hoping that more and more people will begin to start teaching children the wonders of improvisation. I just cannot stress enough how important improvisation is on the developing brain. But more on that later. I say that because I might be working with a doctor who is conducting a scientific study on the effects of improvisation on the brain. Looking forward to sharing what we find! Until then, please do yourself a favor and look at the Applied Improvisation Network and keep up the good work!

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