Improv…it seems to be every students worst fear. To stand in front of your classmates or audience, and to make up a dance on the spot–well, you might as well ask your students to read their diaries out loud too. Improvisation is an easy, but difficult task to accomplish and master; not to mention Improv requires for the dancer to be vulnerable, because they are portraying how the song makes them feel.
I’ve actually had students tell me that, they didn’t know how to improv. The teacher they originally had for contemporary didn’t explain improv or what it required. I sat them all down and explained to the best of my ability, how they could be great at improv:
-There’s no right or wrong answer.
-Don’t think about it, just go for it.
-Avoid throwing out your best acrobatic tricks.
-You don’t have to keep moving. You can take a moment to pause.
-Adjust your tempo from quick to slow.
-Take a moment for physical contact with another dancer if you’re in a group.
-Retrograde a movement (completing a move in reverse mode).
-If you have a move that you like to do often, how can you make it different each time?
-Listen to the mood of the song.
This list was just the beginning in introducing Improv the correct way to students. I find that there is a huge problem in not preparing students adequately when it comes to improv. Of course it is normal for the student (especially if they are older), to feel awkward at first, but it is important for them to understand that Improv will play a huge role in their dance careers. In my personal experience with dance, technique of course will always be a priority, but if the student can’t improv and explore themselves through dance, they are hindering themselves from moving forward in the dance field.
For the teachers out there, I highly encourage you to always be working on Improv with your students. While you are trying to help your students find themselves through this “difficult” concept, make sure your classroom is a comfortable place for them emotionally. It helps that the dancers feel comfortable, because then they feel more open to explore without the fear of judgment.
Improv is supposed to be fun, and make the dancer feel liberated throughout their body. I can only hope that in the coming years, students won’t cringe when us teachers tell them it is time to improv.
Sound off in the comments below your thoughts, and if you have a topic you’d like for me to cover!
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