¿What is the Genetic Choir? A Utopian Singing Ensemble

Originally posted on vocal explorations:

¿What is the Genetic Choir? A Utopian Singing Ensemble


There are very few vocal ensembles in the world that improvise, that compose as a collective, and that work in interdisciplinary projects.  Choirs are usually tight hierarchical structures lead by a conductor; they usually sing composed repertoire; and improvisation and composition are never part of the game. ¿Why so, if the capabilities of the voice and of individual singers are endless? And even more, ¿why haven’t more people in the world attempted to make the most out of the powers of collective singing and collective composition?

“The ambition of the Genetic Choir is to instantly compose, as a group, the music that any given moment asks for. Rather than being conducted, we want to be a choir that organises itself by the musical intelligence and intuition of all the members.” (Thomas Johannsen, leader of the Genetic Choir)

Collective improvisation, though, requires…

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Performances Genetic Choir & Instant Composition Dancers

The Secret Life of Phrases

Two Concert-Performances in Utrecht and Amsterdam as a conclusion to our research into voice and movement improvisation

A musical phrase, just as a movement phrase are the DNA of any music/dance improvisation performance. They are building blocks, that combined create more complex structures of dance, composition, story…phrases_pic1And what are phrases themselves made of? Sounds, tones, rhythmical relationships in music, and for physical performers: smaller pieces of movements and the way they are pieced together in tension and timing.

Dance & Voice Performers/Researchers: Sarah Kate Gardiner, Maria Michailidou, Johnny Schoofs, Marc Alexander Nukoop, Virag Dezso, Moira Mirck, Petra Pieck, Marjolijn Roeleveld, Yinske Silva, Marisa Grande, Thomas Johannsen 

Saturday 29 March at 19.00-19:45 in Amsterdam 

DANSMAKERS, Eerste Helmerstraat 102 ½ (opposite 147)

- free admission to the performance

In the afternoon, dancers and singers can join an open workshop session (IC practice) where we will share results of our research (16:00 doors open, session 16:30-18:45, contribution: 15 euro) Please announce if you would like to join the session via writing a comment to this post (click here).

Sunday 30 March at 16:00 – 17:30 (with pause) in Utrecht

a performance in the BOILER ROOM series @

HET HUIS Utrecht, Boorstraat 107

Admission: 6 Euro

The BOILER ROOM is the new monthly music&dance improvisation event in Het Huis Utrecht, inviting dance & music professionals to perform in instant composition settings. More info here.


“The Secret Life of Phrases” has been a project by Marisa Grande & Thomas Johannsen, in collaboration with theGenetic Choir, the IC Practice of Dansimprovisatie Utrecht&Amsterdam and the Carpet Improvisation Research.

We are looking forward to seeing you at the performances and sharing this work with you!

Wonderland on Sunday

There’s a new Wonderland edition that I will perform in this Sunday!

wonderland_image-mixed16 March 2014 in OT301 - Amsterdam
15.15-15.45     0-3 jaar / 0-3 years old
16.15-17.00    alle leeftijden / kids of all ages (0+)
Overtoom 301
1054HW Amsterdam NL
dance: Silvia Bennett, Manuela Tessi, Thomas Johannsen, Makiko Ito
music: Alfredo Genovesi, Marcos Baggiani, Yedo Gibson, Thomas Johannsen
lights: Emese Csornai 
more info on the Wonderland website

Improvising with known music – the Well-Known-Song workshop

Originally posted on Genetic Choir:

Family Radio Living Room_well-known-song Upcoming is a workshop that combines the free improvisation approach of the Genetic Choir with the apparently opposite: Bring your own song!
On 8 and 9 March we will diffuse the idea that there is a difference between improvising and singing a known song. Well, there is – and there isn’t. The challenge of singing a well-known tune in such a way that it is fresh and engaging in the moment is very close to the challenge of improvising free material, as we will see. And what about cutting up a song and using the material to create completely new vocal music? How to deal with another singer/improviser who brings in his own (prepared) material? We will look at those things as well.

The workshop will combine individual work on your own voice and interpretation of your song with duo/trio improvisations and ensemble singing.

If you have questions about this…

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Genetic Choir sings Visually Enhanced on 8 February 2014

The Genetic Choir will sing on


in Amsterdam, Kunstkapel, next Saturday, 8th of February 2014 at 20:00.

vladimir grafov

There’ll be three vocal instant compositions performed that evening, collaborating with visual artists Vladimir Grafov
and Ksenia Pankratova, with Joris de Jong of hybridvisuals and with performance maker Lee Ellickson and musician Alfredo Genovesi.

All part of a wonderful evening with even more unique collaborations. Come and see, listen and wonder…!

More info on the event:

“The Cumulus 2″
Saturday, February 8th – 8 pm

Prinses Irenestraat 21

Entrance: five euros

A unique evening of interdisciplinary collaborations drawing artists
together from many fields to create performances, projections,
installations and interventions both inside and outside the spherical
kunstkapel in order to guide the audience into a new exploration and
experience of the space

GooseBoard (2)

Including performances by BMB con., Dmitry Gelfand and Evelina Domnitch, Hilary Jeffery and Jaap Pieters, The Moonlighter’s Vanishing Point (Alfredo Genovesi and Lee Ellickson), The Genetic Choir, Joris de Jong, Vladimir Grafov and Ksenia Pankratova, Ariuna Nina & Ana Ladas and Marnix Carpentier Alting.

The Cumulus is a new collective of artists, filmmakers and musicians who
initiate collaborations with other artists on investigations into unique
sites and locations. The Kunstkapel event is the second in a series which
will take place irregularly throughout the year in various remarkable
venues in Amsterdam. Check soon for the appearance of the new website at

The secret Life of Phrases

Originally posted on Interdisciplinary Instant Composition:


The secret Life of Phrases
An investigation into Voice and Movement

A musical phrase, just as a movement phrase are the DNA of any music/dance improvisation performance. They are building blocks, that combined create more complex structures of dance, composition, story…

And what are phrases themselves made of? Sounds, tones, rhythmical relationships in music, and for physical performers: smaller pieces of movements and the way they are pieced together in tension and timing.

Vocal Performers and Dancers lean into each others’ discipline quite often. As for a dancer the use of voice can be seen as just another layer of playing with the body as an instrument, while for a singer the way the voice is affecting the body (and vice versa) is an always present aspect of musical performance.

Working with phrasing means working on a higher level than just producing sounds or movement, which is to say that in…

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An exercise in falling into impro

Thomas Johannsen:

I expecially like the observation about “ice-breaking” at the beginning of the text.

Originally posted on CATS 3000:

Purpose of the activity

Many facilitators of improvisation work with the metaphors of “energising” a group or “ice-breaking” early on at a workshop. A friend of mine, Jack Martin Leith critique ice-breakers because they assume there is “ice” – people in a default state of coldness, stuckness, and that they need “un-freezing”. I agree with Jack on this. I don’t believe there is ice to be broken in a room. Nor do we need to inject energy into people who may simply be in a mood of nervousness, expectation, or even hesitant openness.  I like the idea of a simple activity to allow us to fall into an improvisational state – a state of falling where we know there is a soft landing waiting for us. Leaping in also works for me! And that is what this gentle activity is all about



This is an activity for a…

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