How to Learn Improvisational Dance

The great thing about doing improvisational dance is that you can do whatever you want, and you don't have to remember the steps. Just turn on some music, have fun, and experiment a little.

Steps

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    Get comfortable. Warm up and stretch. Wear movable clothing (this can mean elastic shorts if you don't have a leotard). Wear dancing shoes of your choice.
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    Find a space large enough to dance. Move furniture and other obstacles aside. Make sure the area is not slippery.
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    Be alone. Especially when you first start. It helps you build your confidence rather than when you are being watched.
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    Get a mirror.A mirror will help you see how you look. If no mirror is available, a glass door or large window can provide some feedback, too. It helps to stand on the more brightly lit side.
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    Put on some music. Something upbeat with plenty of drama and variety is a good place to start. Try many different songs and styles to find what works for you.
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    Become familiar with the time and beat just by walking to the music. As you warm up, vary your steps and start to move your upper body any way that seems to go with the music.
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    Experiment with different ways to move. Arms, hands, legs, and feet are the obvious ones, but don't forget shoulders, knees, head, chest, hips and everything else. Notice what looks good and what feels good. Notice what works with your music.
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    Work up to dancing with your whole body. If you're extending a hand, for instance, follow with your chest and head and use your legs. Unless you intend to keep something motionless, you'll just end up looking stiff.
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    Try moving slowly between a series of poses, with or without slow music. Think about the shape and posture of your whole body.
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    Move to the music and do the obvious. Pantomime the words. Get bigger when the music gets louder; get faster when the music gets faster.
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    Put spirit, conviction, and enthusiasm into your dance. Shake, turn, move with the music. Intensity doesn't necessarily mean speed, though. A slow motion can be every bit as intense and deliberate as a quick one.
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    Notice moves and ways of moving, whether in other dancers or just in those around you. Dance is an amplification of body language you already know. Does your music call for you to puff up your chest and strut, or shrink sadly away?
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    Watch other dancers for moves and ideas. Also watch anybody else moving. Martial artists, figure skaters, actors on a stage, soccer players, and children can all suggest ways to move.
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    Take dancing lessons in different styles to learn motions, then mix them together. This is your own creation, so there's no reason that elements of belly dancing and ballet can't blend.
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    Try dropping in unexpected elements once you get the hang of it. Step on a beat when the music is still, subdivide the beat, change direction mid-measure or mid-phrase, and occasionally do something a bit contrary to the mood of the music.

Tips

  • Have fun!
  • Don't worry about messing up. There are no wrong moves, so the more confidence and expression you put into your moves, the better the dance will be.
  • Practice. Even though you're not repeating the same moves as the last time, you'll grow more comfortable with the process.
  • Experiment and explore to find your own style and favorite moves to recombine and vary.
  • Rest and drink water between songs, especially if you haven't danced in awhile.

Warnings

  • Just because a trained dancer or figure skater can leap several feet into the air doesn't mean you can. Dance within the limits of your space, flexibility, strength, and experience.

Things You'll Need

  • Music and a player.
  • Space.
  • A mirror or glass door, if possible.
  • Imagination.
  • Shoes.

Article Info

Categories: Dancing