DANCE: Warm-up Phrase Building/Exploration

modern dancers in flight

modern dancers in flight

One of the fun challenges of dance is learning to combine movement to create longer dance phrases that you can repeat with ease and start to play with as an artist. I find that many of us, regardless of experience, are working to improve memorizing movement as well as interpreting it texturally. I find myself drawn to warm-ups that encourage my students not only to engage their bodies in movement that creates heat but also plays with their movement curiosity without immobilizing them. 

Students will choose one movement that is there own. Encourage them to pick a single action - one arm swinging forward,  turning in place, a high kick with the left foot - that they can repeat. Give students a moment to repeat that movement. This movement can be repeated in one space or traveling. Next, have students add a second movement - one arm swinging followed by a fall to the ground - and give students a chance to repeat and explore their two movement phrase. Continue adding movements for as long as you would like or based on the developmental capabilities of the group. 

still moving...

still moving...

Begin to have students explore the possibilities for their mini-phrase as individuals. Encourage dancers to try and make their movements/phrase as big or little as possible. Have them play with tempo. Encourage the dancers to make their phrase travel or stay in place. Try changing some of the movements to different body parts or changing the effort put into their dancing. How else can the dancers think of changing their phrases? Keep these exploration brief and don't emphasize thinking about HOW to make the changes - just do it. I often find that if I am doing my own exploration at the same time, this creates space for my students to think less and dance more as well. The experience is not only about building a phrase and exploring it, but also about warming up the body. 

This exercise could be turned into a main lesson by making space for more purposeful thought and having others view phrases and offer feedback. Students could share ideas for phrase manipulation and critique the changes.