Dr. Ajay Heble

The University of Guelph’s International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) was the subject of  a feature article in The Globe and Mail examining how improvisation in the arts can be used as a social model.

“..There is a growing movement in academia looking at artistic improvisation as a guide for all of life’s improvisations, even larger societal progress,” the article noted.

“…The University of Guelph is considered a leading centre for this, with its International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation.”

Dr. Ajay Heble, a professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies and the institute’s director, explained that the IICSI looks at musical and other forms of artistic improvisation as models of social practice,“…thinking through what we can learn from the arts and from music in particular.”

Such study helps in the understanding of improvisation as a social phenomenon with real-world implications beyond the creative realm.

Referring to the societal disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic Heble said, “If there’s ever been a moment in our history that demands that we know how to improvise, this may be it.”

Heble is an accomplished pianist, music jurist and community-based arts adviser. He is also artistic director emeritus of the award-winning Guelph Jazz Festival.

More recently, he launched IF, the Improvisation Festival, an online celebration of improvisational arts that featured more than 150 artists from 20 countries.