Forum: Ask a Teacher

Dance Improvisation Ideas
By jodiedancePremium member
On Tue Oct 20, 2009 09:11 AM


Does anyone know of any good improv exercises to do in modern and in jazz class? I feel like I am running out of ideas and doing the same type of improv every week. Thanks.

4 Replies to Dance Improvisation Ideas

re: Dance Improvisation Ideas
By Dancebear8504
On Tue Oct 20, 2009 09:18 AM
This might help: . . .
re: Dance Improvisation Ideas (karma: 1)
By steppinsteph
On Tue Oct 20, 2009 09:46 AM
Here are ours. I use them for different age groups:

"basic 8 count game" have the students begin in a pose of their choice. Let them know that Lindsey goes first, Kaylie second, Susan third, and so on. They can free dance for 8 counts and then they must freeze in a pose of tehir choice while the next person free dances for 8 counts. I sometimes clap the 8 or count it or just do the 'one' and 'five' depending on their level of experience.

Some twists on the 8 count game: For each pose, they must take up the negative space of another dancer. For each pose they must mirror another dancer. For each pose they must have physical contact with another dancer. To work on counting music, they must hold their pose with their eyes closed and only open them and begin dancing when they think it's their turn--lots of cheating on this one :)

"ABC" in groups of 2 or 3 have group 1 make a lower or capital 'a' and group 2 do 'b' and so on, and when they make it, I give them a different letter until they are all used up.

Some twists on 'abc'. The letters can not be done laying flat on the floor but must be vertical. All caps. all lower case. You can use the groups to spell words in the mirror. ie. their letters need to be done backwards so that they show up forwards.

"magazines" I have pictures cut out of dance magazines, and they draw a picture out of a box. They must make up a combination (either in groups or independently ) that incorporates that picture from the magazine.

some twists: Give them 4 or 5 pictures and they must connect them with as little transition as possible.

"add on" In a line for across the floor. The first person does a repeating step, like chasse right all the way across. When they're across the first person goes to the back of the line, and the next person adds to the combination--chasse right, step left then after they're all across that person goes to the back and the next person adds==like chasse right, step left, shimmy and that repeats.

Some twists: Have them stay on the right beat of the music. On the way back they have to do the opposite foot.

"Sounds" The kids love this one. I got it from one of my students who learned it in a college improv class: Susan goes to the center of the classroom and does a repeating movement with a repeating sound: bends and straightens her knees and says boo, boo, boo. Kaylen goes and stands beside her and opens and closes her eyes saying 'yaaaa ' 'yaaaaaaa' in opposition to the 'boos'. Every child goes. The girl who taught it to us then had them stop and go away in the same order that they started-with Susuan first, but that's a bit more difficult. It's hard to explain ,but it's really fun once they loosen up a bit.

twist: We do it for holidays a lot, so this last one was one they kids did in honor of Hallowe'en last night.

"seven movements" We discuss the seven movements in dance, and then I put the kids into groups. I make up a VERY basic combination like battement left, battement right, chaine turn right, saute. Then I tell the groups to modify the combination to suit whatever movement I choose--like 'stretch' They have to do every motion with that in mind, or 'bend' I also use the same premis and have them do it in opposition to each other, or mirroring each other, etc.

twist: let them make up their own combinations--chances are, though, they get too complicated. They choose what movement to do and we try to guess their choice.

"negative space" ONe person poses at the center; person 2 poses in their negative space, person 3 poses in the negative space of person 1 and 2, etc.

a twist: Have them do it without stopping, with a modern or lyrical song. This looks really cool.

"Props" I have props that we used for previous shows. Handhelds like batons, capes, hoops, etc. I give to them and tell them to dance with it in ways it was not intended-like they aren't supposed to hula the hoop. Sometimes we do it all at once, unless it looks dangerous. With the older kids I break out the bigger props like chairs, we also have a stretcher, table, bench, bridge, huge box that opens and closes, doorway, etc. and they have to use these in creative and different ways. Sometimes all with one prop at the same time, and sometimes I give them each a prop.

"carry on" All start at center in a pose of their choice. Person A dances freely and then goes beside person b and assumes her pose and person b takes over and then gets into the pose of person c. this is good for a starter for littler ones.

"My shadow" This is pretty complicated, and is advised for older girls who will get it: Okay. Put the kids in groups of 2 like trains, with one in front of the other. The music starts and the people in front begin to move about the room doing something--not too difficult. The person behind them has to shadow until another group comes by and they can get onto the back of that train if they'd rather. OR, the person in the front can get onto the back of another train. The rule is that no dancer can ever be alone for very long, and someone who ends up sandwiched in the middle can't leave the train--only back and front people can leave the train. If there are 2 girls and one in back leaves for another train, the one who was in front has to catch the next train that goes by. Sometimes you end up with one huge train, and then we quit.

"sustain" start the music. the dancers have to choose a step that they can sustain for 4 counts--not 'hold' but 'sustain' constantly breathing and growing until count 5 where they release and change to a different position where it's repeated for as long as you like. this is better for older kids, too.

re: Dance Improvisation Ideas
By tappin_cait
On Wed Oct 21, 2009 09:40 PM
^^ Great ideas so far!!

Some improv activities I've done:

> Warm-up lines - like follow the leader, the leader is in charge of warming up their "line" (3-5 students in each line). They can move around the room or stand/sit while stretching or warming up their body parts and the line follows them. Then I shout "rotate" and the next person in line is the new leader. Sometimes I will shout out what part then should be stretching to keep them on track.

> Warm-up Improv - similar to above, just everyone improvs their own warm-up based on body parts the instructor says. Tell your dancers they should start each part with small movements and gradually get larger.

> Name Circle - Stand in circle and first dancer says their name and has a gesture that goes with it - ex: "Suzie!" while jumping up and down. Everyone repeats the gesture. Go around the circle until you have a combination of everyone's names. Then do it without saying their names outloud.

> Energy Ball - In a circle, an "energy ball" (invisible) is passed from student to student. The ball can change size, weight so that each person passes it in a different way. Encourage students to pass it with something other than their hand.

> Sleep Study - Students spread out and find 3 “sleep” positions lying down (positions they normally sleep in). Have students transition between positions. Then have students find a way to make their sleep positions sitting, and then standing. Practice smoothly transitioning between levels. Split into two groups and take turns performing it and observing.

> Transition challenge - in partners: Partner A picks a “beginning pose”. In 30 seconds, Partner A sees how many ways they can transition out of the pose. Partner B counts how many successful transitions they have made. Reverse roles. This is also good when you're stuck for choreography.
re: Dance Improvisation Ideas
By J1ll
On Thu Oct 22, 2009 07:10 AM
Try choosing a moving piece of music and asking them to dance the lyrics, or call out a color and they have to perform a movement that they associate with that color, this exercise also works with other words-call out a word (like ice cream!) and they have to interpret the word through dance. Hope that helps!


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