Like a tail wagging the dog, turmoil in the economy has disrupted almost every institutional routine, from shopping to state budgets. In a world where the usual patterns no longer apply, the mantra, according to my brother the surfer, is “Stay on the board, don’t argue with the wave.” In that vein, improvisational arts promise potentially useful life lessons, as well as innovative, site-specific and performer-specific dance. For the Fifth Improvisational Dance Festival, organizer Jones Welsh has recruited an international lineup to join local improv artists in a week of workshops, jams and public performances. Participants include Kirstie Simson, Caroline Waters and L.A.’s own Simone Forti. The culminating improvisational dance events involve different casts, creating an array of new possibilities for each show. Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice; Fri.-Sat., Jan. 9-10, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 11, 4 p.m.; $20, $15 students. (310) 306-1854 or www.BrownPaperTickets.com/event/47986.