Thinking Spaces: The Improvisation Reading Group and Speaker Series

Night Improvisations performance

Night Improvisations featuring Ben Grossman, Reza Yazdanpanah and Kathryn Ladano. (photo by Richelle Forsey)

The Improvisation Reading Group and Speaker Series, Thinking Spaces, considers the ways in which improvisation can provide us with new ways of thinking and acting. Throughout the year, this group organizes public talks, workshops, special events, and concerts, as well as reading sessions that may include music, performance, film, academic texts, fiction, etc., based around critical thinking on improvisation. Readings are circulated in advance, and may also include short informal presentations by current IICSI students, artists or community groups.

This group is open to all—community members, faculty, and students. We welcome new participants at any time throughout the year. Please contact us for more information or to be added to our mailing list.

Schedule of Current Events:

PAST Jan. 18 (8 pm): College of Arts 50th Anniversary: A Night at the Museum

Special programing by IICSI features local musical improvisers Ben Grossman (hurdy-gurdy), Kathryn Ladano (bass clarinet), and Reza Yazdanpanah (tar and setar) as part of a night of lively performances (Art Gallery of Guelph)
Co-sponsored by the College of Arts and the Art Gallery of Guelph

PAST Jan. 25 (2-4 pm): ImprovLab & MacKinnon Building Renovation Open House

Diamond Schmitt Architects present the vision for the performing arts wing of MacKinnon, including IICSI’s new ImprovLab. (Goldschmidt Room, Rm 107, MacKinnon Building) Co-sponsored by the College of Arts.

PAST Feb. 7 (2-4 pm): Improvisation Across Disciplines : from Theory to Practice

Co-Founder of The Making-Box, Jay Reid will join Ajay Heble, Director of the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation and founding Artistic Director of The Guelph Jazz Festival, in a dynamic conversation focusing on improvisation across disciplines. Whether in practice or theory, in music or theatre, in classrooms or performance, themes of agility, responsiveness, community, and compassion emerge whenever improvisational methods are central. Join us for this “out of the box” dialogue between two community leaders.

(Rm 265, McLaughlin Library) Co-sponsored by The Making-Box

PAST Feb. 14 (4:30-6 pm): Computer Vision Ambisonics

SOFAM student Nathan Mejia will present an installation on the intersection of music and image technology in a project that incorporates accessibility, fashion, and bodily movement. (Rm 066, Alexander Hall)

Mar. 6 (7-8:30 pm): Improvisation and Public Space

U of G faculty Troy Hourie, Mervyn Horgan, and Kim McLeod explore the improvisatory imperative of creative life in public space. (2nd Fl. Heritage Rm, 10C, 42 Carden Street, Guelph) Co-sponsored by the Community Engaged Scholarship Institute

Mar. 22 (3-4:30 pm): Ayac Village, Northern Uganda: Music and Dance as Community Building and Treatment for Trauma

SOFAM faculty member Jim Harley presents on the efforts of internal refugees affected by the years-long conflict in Northern Uganda who have formed an association for traditional music and dance, which has become an important part of their trauma recovery. (IICSI House, 9 University Ave. E)


See below for an archive of past events.

Thinking Spaces Archive


2017 – 2018

2016 – 2017


In March 2016, Mrdangam virtuoso Trichy Sankaran lead a workshop on South Asian musical traditions with Autorickshaw Trio.