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How many body parts—an improv warm-up game

This is an excerpt from Dance Improvisations by Justine Reeve.

This is an excerpt from Dance Improvisations: Warm-Ups, Games and Choreographic Tasks by Justine Reeve.

You can use this improvisation as a warm-up for many of the improvisations in Dance Improvsations. It is a quick way to get dancers to work in groups. It gets them moving in the space with an awareness of where the other dancers are.

  1. Ask the dancers to walk around the room anywhere they want to go. Encourage them to be creative and careful with the pathway that they are making; they can make curves and straight lines whilst paying attention to where the other dancers are so that they do not bump into them.
  2. As they travel, give them a series of commands such as walk, run, gallop, change direction, travel in a straight line, travel backwards, stop or jog on the spot.
  3. Next, ask them to form groups of a given number with a given number of body parts touching the floor for that whole group. For example, groups of 4 dancers have 24 of their body parts in contact with the floor. Once they can achieve this goal, they can go back to walking around the space as before.
  4. Then, add more commands as they travel. For example, low levels work well for this task. Also, try having dancers dodge around each other or not let others pass them by.
  5. Again, give them a number of group members and a number of body parts that they can have on the floor, making it more challenging each time. For example, have them try 3 dancers and 2 body parts; then 6 dancers and 3 body parts; then 2 dancers and 14 body parts. Have them travel on their own between each try.
  6. To add another challenge, require that the number of body parts touch each other. This time, the more body parts that are involved, the harder it is to succeed.
  7. Now, combine both challenges: The dancers must quickly form groups of a certain number, have a number or body parts in contact with the floor and a number of body parts in contact with other dancers. For example, try groups of three with two body parts on the floor and four body parts touching each other. This combination is challenging, but eventually dancers come up with an appropriate answer.

Teaching Tip

Encourage dancers to learn anatomy: Use the names of bones and muscles for body parts or have them tell you the correct anatomy terms for the parts they are using.

Further Development

For dancers who are familiar with each other, develop phrases using step 7 of the improvisation. How they get into and out of the final position could create an interesting phrase with dancers pushing, nudging, catching and responding into the shape as well as out of the shape.

Read more from Dance Improvisations.

More Excerpts From Dance Improvisations



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