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The Instigation Festival is an annual fest of improvised music and dance in Chicago and New Orleans. Started in 2016 by Improviser / Guitarist, Steve Marquette, and Mover / Producer, Marie Casimir, the fest has brought together more than 50 artists to-date, highlighting the rich diversity of talented improvisers in both cities. The fest venues have ranged from the New Orleans Contemporary Art Center to the Hi-Ho Lounge to Constellation | Links Hall to the Chicago lakefront.

We create improvised work, we provide opportunities for our collaborators to share their compositions and choreography, we teach improvisation tools to K-12 students.

Find out more at the festival website

Festival Past

February 2018

September 2017

February 2017

September 2016

February 2017


Kim Alpert (video), Marie Casimir (dance), Anton Hatwich (bass), Felicia Holman (dance)
Katinka Kleijn (cello), Lia Kohl (cello), Damon Locks (voice, electronics) Steve Marquette (guitar), Meida McNeal (dance), Jasmine Mendoza (dance) Avreeayl Ra (drums) Mike Reed (drums), Cristal Sabbagh (dance), Mars Williams (saxophones)

New Orleans

Jeff Albert (trombone), Marcello Benetti (drums) Rob Cambre (guitar), Helen Gillet (cello)
Jeremy Guyton (dance), Chanice Holmes (dance), Kai Knight (dance), Nicole Loyd Buckles (dance) Maritza Mercado-Narcisse (dance)Aurora Nealand (saxophones, accordion, voice), Reagan Mitchell (saxophones), James Singleton (bass, pocket trumpet), Paul Thibodeaux (drums), Brad Walker (saxophones) 

Supported by Junebug Productions, The New Quorum, Nicole Loyd Buckles

The Instigation Orchestra with the Djasporas 2016 (Chicago)

September 6 - 10, 2016 at Constellation | Links Hall, The  Hungry Brain, Heaven Gallery


Ben LaMar Gay - cornet, Damon Locks - voice, Anton Hatwich - bass (Chicago), Steve Marquette - guitar (Chicago), Avreeayl Ra - drums (Chicago), Mars Williams - saxophones (Chicago) 

Marie Casimir , Meida McNeal (HPP), Felicia Holman (HPP), Cristal Sabbagh
Onye Ozuzu, Kantara Souffrant

New Orleans
Jeff Albert - trombone, Aurora Nealand - reeds, accordion, voice, Helen Gillet - cello, James Singleton - bass, Paul Thibodeaux - drums

Dancers /Performers
Jarrell Hamilton, Maritza Mercado-Narcisse 

video footage editing by Cameron Crosson