Teachers! If you’re excited at the thought of introducing improvisation to your dancers, here are three popular exercises to get you started with beginners at any age! Each can be adapted to age/level and will get dancers exploring the space and finding their own way of moving! Watch and be amazed at the innovative things they come up! Have fun!
1. “Statues”: Statues is a great introductory improvisation exercise where dancers pair up. One dancer is the sculptor and one is the clay. As the music goes the sculptor molds the dancer into shapes until they are satisfied with one they like best (or a music pause cues them to stop). Dancers are then given the cue when to switch roles. Molding shapes is a wonderful way to explore levels, size, dimension, etc. With a group, an alternative to this exercise is to have everyone take a shape as the statue and one or two dancers are to travel and improv with a locomotor movement. Once they find a statue whose shape they would like to take, those “statues” then become the dancers and begin to travel through the space; repeating the same thing.
2. “Negative-Positive”: With this improv score, dancers learn the concept of negative and positive space. Begin with duets. One dancer takes a shape and the other dancer moves through their negative or “empty” space to replace their shape with their own new shape. Repeat. For a progression use trios, then quartets. Build to the whole class moving at once (in slow motion) for a beautiful spontaneous moving picture.
3. “Mirror Mirror”: Start in duets. Moving very, very slowly and beginning stationary, (on the floor for beginners) a “follow the leader” approach to improving is done here to see how in unison the dancers can move and how to precisely replicate movement. To progress, let dancers go from sitting to standing and stationary to traveling through the space. Add dancers to make larger groupings for a more advanced exercise and change tempo.
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