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Learning To Improvise When Dancing

By: Sarah Chamberlain - Updated: 13 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Dance Dancing Dancer Improvisation

When you watch improvised dance it all seems to come together so easily, with dancers breaking out moves and unrehearsed routines with ease and style. In actual fact creating tight improvisations require high levels of dancing ability- a combination of musicality, ability and training. Improvisation certainly must maintain an element of unpredictability whilst discovering new moves, but it takes practice to be able to dance confidently to a piece of music you have never danced to before. Learning to improvise is really just about being true to your music and performing movements that feel comfortable. Improvisation is probably one of the most honest, natural ways of dancing, and a therapeutic means of expression. Most dance styles were initially born out of improvisation, which was considered a form of artistic expression. so who knows maybe you will come up with a new dance style to share with the world.

Musical Choice For Dance Improvisation
Start improvising dance to music you feel comfortable with, and that expresses your personality. Simply put on the music, and move! This is the best way to start, by feeling the music flow through you to inspire the movement. You will probably find that at first, you stick to certain ‘safe’ dance movements that come naturally as the music begins, and these can be developed upon with more practice.

Break Your Dance Patterns
Usually dancers fall into patterns when starting to improvise dance, particularly if it is new to them. You will need to push yourself through the process and develop varied dance movements to make for an interesting interpretation. Repetition in dance is fine to a certain extent, but you will need to keep it interesting, so try a few of these practice techniques:

Arms Only- Play a piece of music, and in front of a mirror, move you arms to the music in the most interesting way you can, whilst the legs remain stationary. You will find that without the help of the rest of your body, you can create some great arm movements.

Legs Only- same concept, only in reverse. Some dancers favour arm movements over legs, so this technique will help you develop your lower half.

Floor Improvisation- Perform floor movements only, which will require you to interact with the floor with the entire body. Try to create ways of travelling using the floor as this can be very interesting.

Static- Improvise dance whilst remaining in a relatively fixed position, which you can mix with travelling movements later. Travelling- Travel around in the space creating interesting and varied dance movements. This technique really requires you to push the boundaries- it is not enough to simply be moving through a space, keep it fresh and unique by incorporating as many new travelling techniques as you can.

Change the Music- Challenge yourself by changing musical styles, and develop your movement accordingly. Good improvisational dancers are able to pick up on nuances of the music and adapt their moves to express musical style. Versatility is the key to improvising, so stay fresh by moving to music that takes you out of your comfort zone.

Don’t be afraid to look silly when learning to improvise dance, in fact if you don’t look a fool you are not pushing yourself enough to explore new movement techniques. Whatever your style as a dancer, put on the music and see where it takes you, be true to yourself and to the way the music makes you feel. Improvisation is an emotional expression so whether it is comical or sombre, hip hop music or classical, popular or abstract, be original and true to the music to express your individuality. With practice you will expand your boundaries, and you will discover your natural identity as a dancer.

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