Improv Time! (part 2)

Last week I extolled the many benefits of learning to improvise on aerial apparatus. In that post I promised you, my readers, some ideas for improv exercises that you can use in your classes.

And here they are. These are some of my favourite improv exercises to use in class with my students:

A Guide to the Journey of One's Mind 5-discover how to get into a basic movement (eg, getting up onto the apparatus/from sit to stand/into catchers or hiplock) in 10 different ways THAT YOU DON’T ALREADY KNOW in 10 minutes.

This is a great exercise because it can be used on any apparatus. You as a coach can dictate the position to be achieved, and is great for developing new transitions into familiar moves.

-come up with 3-5 moves and transitions that don’t use your hands

This can be used on any apparatus, although it is much more challenging on silks or rope. Although gripping with the elbows can be used, don’t simply replace hands with elbows. If you see your students doing this, make the rules more extreme so that they can’t use their arms AT ALL.

-in pairs, come up with between 3-5 moves that mirror each other

Works best on lyra or trapeze. I’ve found that students doing this exercise are less intimidated to show the results of their efforts to their class mates, as it is a team effort rather than being alone.

-make up a sequence of between 3-5 moves where one appendage (hand or foot) must be touching the ground at all times

Works best on a lyra or dance trapeze that can be lowered close to the ground, and the spinning motion of these apparatus tends to emphasise movements from this exercise beautifully.

-improvise a routine to music.Net Ginnett 2011 5

This can be the most intimidating to students because it feels like a performance, like a routine that should have been rehearsed. I recommend taking students aside one by one and setting as task for the other students (either one of the above exercises or training set trick/s) so that it’s just you, the teacher watching them rather than having an audience of their peers (although this would only be appropriate in a high intermediate/advanced level where students are capable of working independently without direct supervision). To make it less confronting for your students, the first time/ couple of times you use this exercise, tell them the week before what you are planning, and allow them to choose the music. Ask them to choose a song that they know well, that makes them feel a certain way or makes them want to move in a certain way, and ask them to interpret that song physically. This way, the students feel like they have a certain degree of control over the situation. As they become more experienced with improvising movements, you can dictate the music or mood.

After playing with these, it can be fun for your students to show the rest of the class what they’ve invented but is not necessary, especially if they are feeling uneasy with the whole improvising concept. Like I mentioned in my post last week, the more of this work they do the more they will feel comfortable being watched and sharing their creations.

This week, why not comment below with your favourite improv exercises to do in your practice or use in your classes.

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