Improvisation Class Final Notes

First item to note: approximately 1/3 of my class did not show up to class on improv day. whether this is due to the nature of class or external influences is debatable.
Second item to note: class was successful.
Third item to note: my mind is overloaded with new things to plan for and experiment with in future teaching situations.

After gathering advice (thanks ladies), doing some online research, and exploring itunes to make new playlists; i felt as prepared as I could to teach the one improv class of the semester. With so many absent, I began class in a circle allowing us to get used to seeing each other and relying on one another to understand the next movement. I am so lucky to teach in a studio where one wall is floor to ceiling windows, we turned down the lights to let the natural light flood into the room. Breathing exercises, sun salutations, and an easy but movement intense warm-up. I explained my white board diagram, going over different techniques and guidance tools for improv and choreography creation some of which we did and did not use.

To begin. While still gathered around the board I asked everyone to remain still. Become hyper-aware of the body. Notice the first movement the body naturally wants to do. A minute or two passed and I started pointing them out as I saw them. Toes twitch, eyebrow itch, brushing bangs off the forehead, etc. I had them spread out on the floor, turned on music, and had them keep repeating this move--over and over--as we gradually added the techniques and qualities we had just discussed: let it grow, let it become abstract, let it move you across the room, let it change levels, let the timing change. We split into two groups to take turns watching and give one another feedback: What drew you to watch any particular person? What specifically caught your eye? Undoubtedly the most common answers were focus, and level changes.

Everyone back onto the floor. Begin again with this original organic movement. As you feel inspired, begin moving to the music. The song will play for 5 minutes. You must move the entire time. You must mirror someone else during this time, for how long? up to you. Use it when you get stuck, when you find something you like, whenever you feel like it. They danced for 5:45 without stopping. If class were longer I would have loved to do this in 2 groups letting them watch one another because some really great things came out. They loved the mirroring strategy claiming, it was cool because, "they were coming up with movement I would never normally do."

Back to the board. I had one of the modern dance majors in the class explain the concept of Chance Dance. We made our own version of chance dance using Annie's advice of dancing a situation or feeling. I brought 4x6 index cards and markers and as a group we came up with multiple situations: Finals week, a new relationship, last break up, getting lost, feeling insecure about the future, etc. And a second stack of adverbs. In groups of 3, each group chose one card from each pile. One situation, one adverb, I chose the music at random. Again, interesting things to see when the dancers were dedicated to their own movement.

At one point in class I put on "The Golden Afternoon" from Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland soundtrack and told them to dance like they were 5. Dance like the fairy princess they always thought they were. It was brilliant advice to break down some of the security walls they had build up around themselves. Everyone laughing at themselves and at one another: it's okay to look stupid.

Truly I learned more about my own teaching styles and focuses more than anything. Truly. Thanks for the help, *love*, and curiosity. Next class is "mock audition" to get them prepared for spring audition season.


welundell said...

I am so glad that class went so well! I am sorry I didn't leave any suggestions, but after reading what Annalece and Libby had written I thought "what more do you need" you three are brilliant dancers! Emmy, I so wish I could take your class, I have been in too structured dance classes the past few years and I would love to break free with an improvisation class! (I don't think I have done improv since Mrs. Debbie was banging her drums at us!)

mem said...

Ah hahaha! oh whitney i'll bang my drum at you until your quills bristle! Well I don't know when you are at school but my class is from 1:30-2:50 MW at UVU PE154. You can totally drop in if you are available!

libby said...

Sounds like a success!! I *so* wish I could have been there! You sound like a fantastic teacher.

I miss dancing.