Dance improvisation is the process of spontaneously creating movement. Development of improvised movement material is facilitated through a variety of creative explorations including body mapping through levels, shape and dynamics schema.
Improvisation is a free, seemingly unstructured, less technically strict and impulsive form that draws inspiration from everyday dance practices and influences. It is a movement technique that is capable of evoking dramatic and thought-provoking content just as well as more codified western dance techniques such as ballet and non-western movement forms.
Dance improvisation is not only about creating new movement but is also defined as freeing the body from habitual movement patterns (see Postmodern dance and Judson Dance Theater). Dancer and singer Michael Jackson combined improvisation in both of those definitions, insisting that he had interest in performing a dance to Billie Jean only if he could do it a new way each time.
A lot of improvisation is focused on finding a deeper way of comprehending otherwise concealed thoughts or feelings of an individual. Through the emphasis of instinctual, unpredictable, free movement that improvisation is centered upon the mover is able to explore authentic feelings and inspirations.
Developed dance forms with improvisational life
Argentine Tango, is a dance form that despite the apparent choreography relies on improvisation. Improvisation techniques are taught and improvisation is encouraged as necessary to reach high levels of competency in dance and performance environments. Closely knit crowds, varying rhythmic patterns in music, switching partners for each dance, and a large vocabulary of movements encourage improvisational dance in Argentine Tango.
Belly dance is one of the most commonly improvised dance forms, since the often live music does not support the structured nature of choreography. Professional belly dancers may dance publicly 6 nights a week, up to three times a night, and simply do not have the time to choreograph for the 15–60 minutes a night that such performing requires. Even dancers with substantial choreography repertoires often choose to improvise when performing to live music because they value the exchange of energy between the dancer, the musicians, and the audience, which is heightened by working "in the moment". American Tribal Style belly dance is built entirely upon group improvisation, although the group will typically plan and rehearse individual combinations and their cues in advance.
Blues dance is generally done to blues music, and is highly improvisational. Like lindy hop, emphasis is on the lead and follow connection, but the emphasis is even greater. Blues dance is a partnered and structured form of interpretive dance, and relies mostly on the leader interpreting the music how he or she will; at the same time, the follower usually has some freedom to interpret the music and add in his or her own style as well.
B-boying features a heavily improvisational style based on cyclic movement patterns. Many styles of b-boying exist, and dance crews will often choreograph performances for specific songs. Individual performances are more commonly improvised due to the nature of the dance.
Lindy Hop is generally an eight-count swing dance, developed in large part by Frankie Manning, and includes a large amount of improvisation. Once a dancer has learned a variety of swing dance moves, ranging from West Coast Swing to Charleston to Balboa, the dancer will often combine any and all the moves he or she knows of these styles of dance, as well as add his or her own dance style, or make up new dance moves or aerials. Because of its improvisational nature, lindy hop heavily relies on lead and follow connection, rather than each partner knowing the steps and doing them together.
Post-Modern Dance and Contact Improvisation
Contact improvisation is an un-codified, somatic technique used to generate and develop movement frequently in post-modern dance. It involves the participation of at least two bodies exploring movement as a pair by remaining in contact with each other. Typically the relationship that exists between the dancers is balanced in this improvisational form. Unlike ballet, contact improvisation makes way for a practice that enables men and women to explore movement together on a more equal basis, both bodies serving as support for one and another. It also allows the dancers to experience homogenous partnering, which is seen less in ballet. For example, men and women are encouraged to lift up, lean on, and carry each other.
- Minton, S, C. (1997) Choreography: A Basic Approach Using Improvisation. Human Kinetics . ISBN 0-88011-529-7
- Tufnell, M. and Vaughan, D. (1999) Body Space Image : Notes Toward Improvisation and Performance. Princeton Book Co. ISBN 1-85273-041-2
- Barrios Solano, M. (2004) Posthuman Performance: Dancing within Cognitive Systems. 
Reeve, Justine (2011) "Dance Improvisations". Human Kinetics. ISBN 9781450402149