Archive for May, 2013

Laban’s Efforts

As we work to physicalize stories, we sometimes feel ourselves “miming” too much. This skill-building exercise helps us begin the process of abstracting our movement. Move in the space, exploring one of the “Eight Efforts” listed in the chart below. Once everyone has a sense of the quality of each movement, trying having people explore them in pairs. What happens when Float and Press interact with each other? Thrust and slash? Wring and Glide? Flick and Dab? Explore the power dynamics that emerge.   Movement Quality Time Space Weight Flow Float sustained indirect light free Press sustained direct strong bound Punch/thrust quick direct strong bound Slash quick indirect strong bound Wring sustained indirect strong bound Glide sustained direct light free Flick quick indirect light free Dab quick direct light bound

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Flocking (Video)

This activity helps build ensemble cohesion. Begin as a tightly formed group, all facing the same direction. Make sure everyone is on a different plane, not in a line. Goal: move in unison, following the forward-most person. Transfer leadership with the leader’s physical or visual focus shifts to place another performer at the front. Flocking: A Brief Demo

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Integrated Storytelling

We do this activity when we want to generate a quick series of stories that integrate movement, text, and music. Most of the stories don’t “work,” but the exercise helps us improve our flexibility and confidence. Set a two-minute timer. Any person may begin with any element, working with the “basic story structure”: set the situation, throw in an obstacle, draw toward a conclusion. (It helps to start with a character’s name and a specific goal.) The storytelling may involve any combination of the elements, simultaneously or not. Anyone may step out and observe at any time. As soon as the timer goes off, reset it and try again. Keep going, even after you think you’ve gone too long. (We need to work more on fully integrating the elements in this version. We are definitely open to suggestions!)    

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Story Montage

With this “game,” we explore possibilities for improvising stories with each other. Begin with text. (Anyone may begin. This person becomes the “lead storyteller.”) The lead storyteller works with the “basic story structure”: set the situation, throw in an obstacle, draw toward a conclusion. (It helps to start with a character’s name and a specific goal.) Meanwhile, “supporting storytellers” experiment with echoes and extensions of the words, always remaining open to taking over as storyteller. The lead storyteller owns the story until a second person picks it up. Possible variations: create a story montage with movement or music.

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Cross Fade

This exercise developed from our attempts to use music, voice, and movement to tell a story. We struggled to make sure we continued the story with the addition of each elements. This approach worked best: Any person may begin the story the story with any element. That person continues until the next person takes over the story with another element. Cross-fade. The next element should extend the story without simply describing what just happened. This goal is best accomplished with the “basic story structure”: set the situation, throw in an obstacle, draw toward a conclusion. (It helps to start with a character’s name and a specific goal.)

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Here Goes

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I read a lot of very inspiring advice about generating ensemble work. And most of it makes me feel really bad. I know how important it is to build trust and take risks. I know about engaging in the flow of the work, setting aside fears about endpoints and fully connecting with each, individual collaborator. I know how to say the right words, how to craft the pretense of expertise. All that “knowledge” makes me feel like a fraud. When I step back from myself and hear the voice of a collaborator accusing me—with a laugh, understand—of hating all her ideas, I want to tear off my skin, rebuild my breath, and start over. And that’s why I keep returning to the rehearsal room. Am I alone is this? Perhaps this blog will help me find out. Here, I will

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