Myriam Verzat (front, centre) is holding an improv dance workshop at the Rotary Fieldhouse on May 13. (Photo courtesy Manikmati Christopher Mancini)

Dancer Myriam Verzat hosts improv dance workshop at Nanaimo Rotary Fieldhouse

Verzat said improvisation concepts can be applied to daily life

When Myriam Verzat moved to Montreal from the French Alps for a university internship six years ago, she didn’t expect to be swallowed up by the city’s art scene.

“I didn’t consider myself an artist at all before arriving in Montreal and there’s something in the city that told me, ‘Yes, you can be an artist. Just do it.’ And through improv for me was my big door to art.”

Verzat had been a dancer from a young age and did some acting back in France, but when she was living in Montreal she discovered and became attracted to “a universe of improv.” She said she saw improvisation in theatre, dance, music and performance art. This led her to form and improv group of her own.

She said she was drawn to improv because of the idea of “this creativity in the present moment, this uniqueness that it’s happening now and it’s never going to happen again in the same way and it can only happen in the magic of the present moment. I’ve always been fascinated by that.”

Verzat then discovered the Applied Improvisation Network, an organization that uses improv techniques and exercises in non-performance environments, like schools. She said the idea is to encourage people to be more creative, communicative, receptive and perceptive. Verzat said she discovered those changes in herself as a result of practising improv.

Last fall Verzat moved from Montreal to Nanaimo to be closer to nature and closer to mountains in particular, as they remind her of her homeland. She brought her improv concepts with her. She is currently co-ordinating Bike To Work Week Nanaimo and she said incorporating improv activities into her meetings reduces tension.

On Sunday, May 13, Verzat will be leading an improv dance workshop at the Rotary Fieldhouse.

She said the class is open to performers and non-performers alike and focuses on about being, creative and playful in a group setting. One exercise involves all participants moving in unison like a school of fish, and when someone adds a sound or movement the rest must follow.

“I really believe that creativity is not something that we have or we don’t. It’s kind of like a muscle…” Verzat said, adding that she’s become more imaginative since picking up improv six years ago.

“I notice that ideas just pop out all the time and my body is capable of going in places that I would never have imagined before, just because of this muscle of creativity.”

WHAT’S ON … Improv Dance with Myriam Verzat at the Rotary Fieldhouse on Sunday, May 13 at 3:30 p.m. $15 registration at

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