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Columbus improv group merges performance and life

Members of Sassy Do Improv perform. Credit: Courtesy of Barbara Allen

To be quick on your toes through the practice of improvisation is one thing; to be able to apply these practices to everyday life is another. This weekend, one Columbus performance group is merging the two in a single-day workshop.

Sassy Do Improv will host “Sassy Do and YOU The Fusion of Improv and Leadership” at Wild Goose Creative on Saturday. The event is open to all and will feature performances, a layout of the process of improvisation, and how the practical exercise of improv applies to real-life experiences.

Founded in 2013, Sassy Do Improv is an all-female subgroup within the Columbus Unscripted improv community. As the largest of its kind in Columbus, the group focuses on women and those who identify as female to support female empowerment.

“Improv is this beautiful process that can help people take risks to have a chance to play [and] to extend their learning in a safe space,” said Barbara Allen, co-artistic director of Sassy Do Improv. “Trusting that what you do is right and that others will be there to support you … whether it’s performance or in life. It’s a real transferable experience.”

During the workshop, Mihaela Jekic, an improv artist from the Duets improv group and Ohio State alumna, will speak about her journey growing up during the Bosnian

War and how that time led her to an improvised life.

“I had a normal childhood like most people, and then one day, almost overnight, my life changed. The war started and my family lost all of our possessions and became refugees,” Jekic said. “Through the chaos of war we had to improvise … it radically changed my philosophy about what really matters in life, I knew it wasn’t a bunch of stuff.”

That journey provided inspiration for Jekic and her husband, Mark Lancia, to write “Money for Meaning: Philosophy for a Life of Extraordinary Freedom.” The passionate duo teaches their readers the concept of trading consumption and distractions for a life of meaningful living.

“The foundation of our beliefs is where it all starts,” Lancia said. “When we don’t know what we want to do in life and it’s really easy to go with the flow and kind of do what everyone else is doing. We do that, we get average results. We have to take space and quiet time to figure out what is meaningful in our hearts, what resonates with us [and] what our passion is.”

Although Jekic and Lancia were both engineering majors at Ohio State, life took a different direction and the two found a lot of crossover between the principles outlined in improv and those in their book.

“Improv is about saying ‘yes, and’ instead of ‘but,’” Jekic said. “So many of us do what everyone else is doing when we come across new information. We look for reasons why we can’t or why life is so hard, but that concept of openness to new possibilities I feel is very really a connecting point between our work and improv.”

For Allen, the improvisation principles of being present in the moment and flexible have long applied on-stage as well as off it.

“We are all improvisers every day,” Allen said. “It’s hard because we are all so busy in life, but to decide that we’re really just going to enjoy this moment together, because it will never be this again. The ephemeral nature of improv is precious.”

“Sassy Do and YOU The Fusion of Improv and Leadership” will be held at Wild Goose Creative at 2491 Summit Street from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $20 via Eventbrite or at the door and includes snacks and drinks.

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