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by Darren Held

I think I may have mentioned it before, but in case you missed out on this useless tidbit about my life, I have a degree in art. You know, the drawing/painting/making-collages-out-of-found-objects kind of art. And without getting into a whole big thing about art and society and the Dark Ages, let me just assure you that art of every kind (ie, painting, acting, writing, photography, singing, composing, improv-ing, etc.) is crucial to a civilized society.

Of course, improv is more crucial than the others. Duh.

What? You think I can’t justify that statement? C’mon, people, you know how I roll.

All of the arts fulfill important needs of both the artist and society as a whole: personal self-expression, social commentary, calls to justice, propaganda and of course, entertainment, to name a few of the biggies.

But where improv differs from the other arts is in the skills needed to create it. The technical skills I learned for drawing and painting apply specifically to drawing and painting. They may even help me see the world differently. But they don’t help me function in the world differently.

Improv is the only art whose skill set helps people function better in their day-to-day lives. Listening, agreeing, contributing, trusting, working well with others, accepting and committing are skills needed in improv – and, if I’m not mistaken, come in pretty handy in life as well.

And, like the other arts, improv is totally a learnable thing. I’m not being disingenuous when I say that this whole mystique that makes people think arts can’t be learned is total crap. You learned how to make coffee, didn’t you? Then you can learn how to paint a coffee cup. Or compose a song about coffee beans growing in the sun. Or improvise a scene set in a Starbucks in Times Square.

Whether you want to try improv because it looks fun when Drew Carey and his pals do it, or because you want to push yourself out of your comfort zone, or because you think some of those skills you learn in improv might actually come in handy in the real world, Held2gether improv classes are the answer. January classes are enrolling now!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some glitter and macaroni waiting for me…

By Sonnjea Blackwell

Darren Held
About Darren Held
Darren is the CEO and Creative Director of Held2gether, Improv for LIfe. He has been teaching and performing improv for 15 years, and has performed with H2g, the Groundlings, UCB and Second City. He loves Moto, red wine, and Madonna.

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