Improvising for life

May 24, 2011

So I have temporarily found a way to get past this great big firewall of China to gain entry into WordPress! I can finally write in my blog again!

I have been doing some movement improvisation workshops with high school students, and a lot of these techniques draw upon the normal movements that we engage in everyday. I believe that improvisation is important even for non dancers and movement specialists. It is a unique skill that allows one to move without thinking, to truly bring out emotions and thoughts through bodily language. Simply taking five to ten minutes out of your day and giving yourself completely to your body, letting your mind relax and letting the motions flow, will have amazing changes in your body and overall health. Not only does improvising improve your physical health, it also stimulates the growth of body awareness in the brain, vital for mental health.

Below is an exercise I did with the dancers, but it can be done by anyone.

Stand upright in a relaxed position, let your mind be at peace and take a couple deep inhales and exhales. Slowly melt yourself to the ground, take your time, make sure you are completely sprawled out on the ground at the end of the melt.

On the ground, let your eyes close softly, let your eyeballs relax in the back of your sockets. Now, while on the ground, choose one of the following scenarios to do:

1. You have suddenly gained superpowers. What kind of superpower? What kinds of movements are related to your superpower?

2. You are in the ocean swimming with fearsome sharks and beautiful schools of fish. How will your body move in response?

3. You are slowly entering a blissful lucid dream, everything about this dream is perfect. Notice how your body reacts to this and explore all the possible movements and poses.

Remember to take your time, and music is optional – in fact, I usually recommend against using music because it has such a powerful influence on the way we perceive movement.

Body movements are the purest forms of expression. When we talk to someone, actual words provide very little impact for the way others will interpret your communications. Body language and tone of voice provide the bulk of understanding. This is why I smile when people say they can’t dance or move. That’s impossible, because dance is a birthright possessed by every single human being. So please, enjoy this little improvising session. Take your time, be aware of your movements, and become fascinated and inspired by them. It is a journey.

By the way, I also recommend against using mirrors. Mirrors are great…..for intense technical classes. For improvising and free movement? More of a distraction.

If you tried this and enjoyed it, I will make a page specially for these kinds of improvising exercises that anyone can do.