KU AUMI-Interarts Considers Mixed-Ability, Multimedia Performance as Research

Our goals, questions, and partnerships involve exploring questions of community and difference through performances that improvise across abilities and across multiple media.

Performance Archive

Jesse Stewart, international perf​ormer, composer, artist, and founder of We Are All Musicians (organization dedicated to inclusive community music making) will facilitate all-ability music workshops, culminating in two community performances using the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument (AUMI) during the week of August 7th-12th. His artist residency is part of an international symposium and made possible by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Commons at KU, as well as support from community partners Independence, Inc. and the Lawrence Public Library Sound + Vision Studio, the School of Music and Departments of American Studies, Dance, and Theater.

Registration is now closed for performers, but the performances and several other events will be open to the public.

August 9, 2017, 7:00 pm: Jesse Stewart Percussion Concert in Duet with the Audio Reader Garden

August 11, 2017 5:30 pm: Improvising Inclusive Communities Performance with Jesse Stewart and the AUMI Workshop Ensemble, The Commons, KU

August 12, 2017, 9:30-11:45 am: Symposium Sessions (open to the public), Hall Center for the the Humanities (900 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS). [9:30-10:15: Elizabeth Boresow, Kara Caine, Abbey Dvorak – AUMI and Music Therapy; 10:15-11:00 am: Jesse Stewart – We Are All Musicians: Reflections on Community Music Workshops and Performances Involving the AUMI; 11:00-11:45 am; one – AUMI: Dreaming Across Borders 

August 12, 2017, 3:30 pm: Improvising Inclusive Communities Performance with Jesse Stewart and the AUMI Workshop Ensemble

 For more information, contact: improv@ku.edu

The public was invited to attend a free performance utilizing the AUMI and other mixed-ability improvisation tools and media on October 30, 2013 at the KU Commons, Spooner Hall, at the University of Kansas. "(Un)Rolling the Boulder: Improvising New Communities" was the culmination of a devised improvisation directed by Nicole Hodges Persley, Assistant Professor in the KU Theater Department, involving 20 participants from Lawrence, Kansas City, and other towns and cities in the area, who answered the call for performers for "Four Rehearsals and a Performance: No Experience Necessary!" 

Audience Participation

The approximately 80 audience members who attended the event were invited to choose where to enjoy the performance. Some lined the walls, and others selected seating from chairs that had been strewn throughout the space, facing different directions. Some clumps of seating had spaces between chairs that were wide enough for a wheelchair. Scraps of paper were on the chairs with text (some printed in Braille) with sayings such as "Ho, ho, hey, hey, ADA is here to stay!" and "If we were only spiritual beings, why would we have bodies?" Part of the improvisational nature of this performance was that the ensemble had collaboratively made all of the decisions pertaining to the show, from its title, to the selection of text, images, and sound files used in the program, to where the audience would be. The ensemble had wanted the audience to experience the performance interspersed throughout a performance space that presumed patrons of all abilities. They also decided they did not what the audience to know who was in the show. The audience was also invited to participate--and many did.

AUMI to Conga Line to Zumba

The performance began when several members of the ensemble began to play a musical instrument called the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument, a free software download from the Deep Listening Institute, that turns any computer with a camera into a musical instrument that adapts to all bodies. The performers played it while dancing around a table. A steady pulse emitted from a computer at the other end of the room, operated by Music Professor, composer Kip Haaheim, and several performers began to clap and dance. Audience members and the ensemble joined in, dancing Zumba moves led by JoAnne Fluke, Director of Groovability, Kansas City, and a member of the ensemble. 

JESSE STEWART, internationally acclaimed musician, scholar, educator, and founder of We Are All Musicians - an organization dedicated to fostering inclusive community music-making - will perform a drum and percussion concert in a duet with the sounds of the sensory garden.

The pre-pandemic ensemble poses for a photo in the KU Lied Center
Photo taken by Kendall Conway