Friday, 22 February 2008

Everyday Action/Movements

1. In a circle, ask each individual to choose an everyday movement or action e.g. brushing teeth, combing hair, sweeping, lifting something heavy, climbing stairs. With music, each person shows their movement and everyone else copies it and repeats it twice so that it acquires a rhythm with the music.

2. Split the group into pairs and ask them to select four of the movements they have seen in the circle. Then ask them to use the four actions to create a movement phrase to the music, in unison, that they can remember and repeat. Depending on the length of the session, ask each group to show their movement phrase at this point – if there is not a lot of time, just ask them to make sure they can remember it.

3. Now ask the pairs to create a second sequence by making the following changes to their first movement phrase:
i) Make one movement very fastii) Make one movement very slowiii) Use a change of directioniv) Use a change of level
(The groups can combine changes if they wish e.g. they might make one movement both very fast and in a different direction. They may also naturally start to experiment with timings and facings which can be encouraged e.g. one person moving after another instead of in unison, one person moving behind another instead of at their side. In the process of doing these changes the groups may also notice that a story or an emotional content starts to be generated and they might wish to make further changes/adaptations to develop it.)

4. Ask the groups to show both their pieces and encourage the other pairs to observe and comment on how the changes made in the second phrase affected the performance. Some useful questions to ask might be:

i) What difference(s) did it make to the phrase when you made the changes? ii) What kind of ‘story’ or emotion/ ‘feel’ did the movement phrase start to express (if at all)?
Rationale· Accessible because based on movements chosen by participants rather than using ‘given’ movements· Movement with music is often enjoyable and fun in itself and has the additional benefit of not requiring language to achieve successful outcome· Encourages cooperative and collaborative working which enables young people who speak different languages to get to know each other through ‘doing’ rather than ‘talking’· Participants can develop the tasks with more or less complexity, which allows for different levels of experience/skill within the group

· Experimentation with a range of ‘manipulations’ of movement can lead to a range of interesting and potentially more complex outcomes e.g.
Speed – fast, slow, varying pace Dynamics – smooth, hesitant, jerky, tense, erratic. Repeating, reversing, adding, subtracting movementsAdding more people, removing peopleUnison, canon, solo, different phrases at the same time. Staging - perform in different spaces, different facings
· Putting phrases to different kinds of music (different moods, feels, instrumental, non-instrumental) to see how it affects what is conveyed by the movement and how the movement might need to change to work with the new music.
· This task can be a good starting point from which to develop both dance work and physical theatre with young people. Experimenting with familiar/everyday movement can lead into both abstract and more narrative work depending on the interests/needs of the group. You may decide to work with very specific everyday movements as a particular theme/issue is being explored e.g. movements from work situations (typing, lifting etc).
i) For example, using the ‘manipulations’ suggested above can take the movement further and further away from the original ‘source’ material into more abstract movement work e.g. the action of typing may no longer be recognisable as it has become part of a choreographed sequence of movements which are engaging to watch because they effectively complement the chosen music.
ii) Alternatively, it might be that a group wants to create a physical section within a more narrative drama – by creating a ‘choreographed’ sequence of everyday movements associated with the theme/idea of the drama, the movements can acquire a powerful symbolic impact which heightens the dramatic moment.

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