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Dance Improvisations

Dance Improvisations

Joyce Morgenroth
Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Dance Improvisations
    Book Description:

    Dance Improvisationsis a book for teachers of dance and acting, choreographers, directors, and dance therapists. Systematically offering a complete range of ways to explore dance, it can be used as a syllabus or as a reference for groups of all ages and all levels of experience.

    The first chapter inDance Improvisationsintroduces ways for a group to practice working together and for the dancers to gain an effective awareness of each other. These preliminaries are followed by a body of improvisational problems, organized into three main areas: Space, Time, and Movement Invention. Each area is presented as a series of topics. Each topic progresses from individual exploration to more formally structured group improvisations, with emphasis on learning to work as a group toward common structural goals.

    This book is the first in its field to go beyond the pursuit of physical inventiveness to nurture the development of structural intuition. Joyce Morgenroth has succeeded in presenting improvisation in a way that is rational and methodical as well as inventive and personal - in the conviction that improvisation at its best is comprised of both form and fancy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7136-8
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Recent History
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    Improvisation has reemerged in the last twenty-five years as a powerful presence in dance and theater. The Judson Dance Theater and other groups whose work was based on improvisation, like the Second City, the Living Theatre, and the Open Theater, were a rousing and often disconcerting revitalization of the art of performance.

    Western theater has a long history of improvisation. The troubadours of the Middle Ages and the Commedia dell’Arte of the Renaissance were important and accepted modes of theatrical performance in their times. In contrast, the recent upsurge of improvisation, flowering in the rebellious sixties, did not fall comfortably...

  2. Practical Considerations for Leading an Improvisation Group
    (pp. xv-2)

    The leader of an improvisation group may be a teacher, a choreographer, a director, a therapist, or one of the dancers in the group. Although leaders must organize sessions to suit their own circumstances, here is a quick survey of considerations that may be useful.

    Dance improvisation does not require prior skill. However, a group that includes both very experienced dancers and inexperienced dancers can be frustrating. If this situation arises, the dancers can group themselves according to level some of the time. If appropriate, the improvisations can be adapted so that the beginners have simpler versions to work with....

  3. I Preliminaries
    (pp. 3-16)

    Improvisation teaches skills; but it requires skill as well. Dancers must become accustomed to the process of improvisation and to its concentration and focus. They must be able to see and respond. These skills are practiced in the sections on Mirroring and Unison. Once these elements are in place, the dancers can begin to learn new skills and integrate them into their continuing work in dance.

    When working with a group, individual invention is not as important as the ability to put one’s invention to work in conjunction with others. This begins with an interest in working together and a...

  4. II Space
    (pp. 17-58)

    Space is the visual medium in which we live. While we usually take space for granted, as a sort of passive arena for our perceptions, dance brings it into conscious play. The logistical question of visibility, the interest of group design, the impact of a mass of people, the changing configuration of a traveling group—all have a strong visual effect.

    The chapter on Space is introduced early in the work because even the most rhythmically articulated, beautiful movement can lose its power if it is performed in a jumble of bodies. Learning to manipulate the use of space is...

  5. III Time
    (pp. 59-84)

    “However people began to keep time, one imagines the eerie thrill they felt as they found themselves aware of hearing a beat from the outside and of taking a step from the inside, both of them at once. One can still feel a far echo of that thrill as one first finds one’s self hitting the beat; or later in life, as one finds one’s self stepping securely to a complex rhythm one isn’t able to follow consciously” (Edwin Denby,Dancers, Buildings and People in the Streets,p. 152). Denby was writing about a primal connection we feel to moving...

  6. IV Movement Invention
    (pp. 85-122)

    Group improvisations unite structure and invention. To complement the structuring elements of time and space, a section on movement invention focuses on imagination. From mimetic devices, such as characterization, to abstract devices, such as theme and variation, these improvisations represent approaches to finding new movement.

    Imagery, by directing the dancer toward new ways of moving, represents a fertile source of movement for the dancer who is interested in abstraction as well as for the one who wants his movement to be more literally evocative.

    The images presented in this section can address the dancers’ movement limitations. Ballet-trained dancers may profit...