When I first started taking improvisation classes I wasn’t sure I understood why there’s a warm-up part to the class. I mean why do I need to warm if all I’m doing is making up stuff anyway?
As my understanding of improvisation developed I realized that, asides from warming up the physical body so I don’t get injured, I need to prepare it mentally. In order to have more options available for me in the choices that I make second to second in the moment of improvisation, there needs to be a process where I become acquainted with or get reminded of different movement possibilities before I’m required to make the choices, like looking at a menu to see what’s available.
One way to remind ourselves of choices is to go through different body parts and hang out with each one for a little bit, articulating that area not in a pre-planned way like we sometimes do in other movement modalities, but rather letting them express in ways that we might not be used to. It’s almost like we keep telling the foot or the hand “so tell me what else you can do?”.
Sometimes we can remind ourselves to initiate from even a smaller sub-section of that body part, like from a finger or the nose and all of the sudden we find ourselves creating movements that are totally new to us. Because honestly, when do we ever get to initiate movement from your nose?
The result of letting every body part speak is that we get to connect to our entire body and not just the parts that we are used to moving when we do “our dance”. Our awareness of the movement possibilities of different areas in our body become heightened.
We can always choose to move in familiar ways and there’s nothing wrong with that but it’s also good to have options if we want to stretch ourselves mentally and emotionally in ways that allow for transformation.
That’s one of the things that I try to include in the beginning of my Transformational Movement class so that when we later extend a more open invitation to our body to speak it might remember, on its own, to include the elbow or the the ankle in the telling of it’s story and therefore give us a more complete picture of its existence.
You’re welcome to join us anytime to engage is body part conversations but in the meantime, what are the go-to body parts that you always initiate movement from when you do your signature dance?