When I was a child, I was fascinated by kaleidoscopes. I mean, old style kaleidoscopes, made with fragments of colored glass, inserted in a cardboard tube, with mirroring internal walls. The most beautiful ones were quite heavy for my childish hands, and when I rotated the tube, a charming clinking noise captured me. Pointed pebbles trilled like bells, accompanying the formation of shapes inside the pipe: multicolored flowers, fading shapes… bright hues, optical illusions lasting for one second and disappearing while I was trying to give them a name… I spent hours with my eye in the viewfinder!

Today’s kaleidoscopes are made in plastic, they are not as enchanting as the old ones… but I don’t mind: because I found my new kaleidoscope in the world of improv!

I was thinking of this yesterday evening: it’s days that I’m struggling with the quilt top dedicated to our game; I decided to challenge myself with free-form creation, postponing to a later phase the issue of how to unite a series of jagged pieces.  

I create blocks, I place them on the design wall, I displace them trying to harmonize each one with the other parts. If the audition is successful, I take a photo to remember parts positioning, and I immediately try another version. Each trial creates a new design, and the overall perception of the image is recombined every time! It’s like a kaleidoscope: images are fragmented, rotated upside-down, remixed, and in each session I think: “Yes, this is the right shape!”, but it’s not really true, because the following trial opens new possibilities again! Even the pictures taken become quickly obsolete, because something has changed in the meanwhile, some blocks have been cut and sewn in a new fashion, a new order, a new version…

My head becomes populated with a series of images, where my top becomes alive, it shows a smiling face, an elegant bow, a funny grimace, and then disappears, leaving me alone, with the last choice fixed in stone on the wall. 
Is this one in front of me the best possible combination ever? 
I don’t know, probably it’s not the right one, maybe another option (tried twenty changes before) was a better one… but pieces have likely been cut and modified too much: that old revision is now unattainable… 

I don’t know if I expressed my feeling well, but for me, improv is like this: a captivating acrobat that offers kaleidoscopic visions as a gift.

You may say it’s just fabric, just an ordinary attempt to create a beautiful work. You may say that there are hundreds of wonderful patterns (I’ve appreciated and executed plenty of them myself too), patterns which are easier to be followed with their step-by-step instructions. But my reply is that improv can be understood once it has been tried. Trying to play with fabric, to free one’s mind, to follow a dream… the worst result is a piece that needs to be modified, to be readjusted, unless that feeling arrives: the sensation of having reached what was desired. A voice from the heart telling that it’s possible to stop, and to enjoy the result.
I wish all of you to find the kaleidoscope of your dreams, while trying improv!

1 thought on “The tumbler in the kaleidoscope

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