Getting Comfortable With Improv

Reader Question:

I am a 14 year old competitive dancer and I enjoy performing on stage.  My dance teachers have always told me I have great stage presence.  My problem is we are required to take an improv class.  I dread it every week.  I am totally comfortable performing someone else’s choreography, but having to come up with something of my own stresses me out.  I feel silly and clueless.  I look around at some of my teammates and they look amazing.  It’s like they just know what to do.  Any suggestions that would help me become more comfortable with my own movement and not feel so self-concious each week.

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You are not alone. This is something that is uncomfortable for so many dancers! There are many things you can do to improve and become more comfortable.  You can take time actually to somewhat prepare for improv dance. When you are by yourself and have no one to make you nervous, play various types of music and just dance. Listen and connect to the music, however it makes you feel. Don’t play just one style of music – prepare for all styles. Also, many dancers have signature moves that they will pull out during improv. Just beware of overusing those kinds of moves.
*First,  relax – keep in mind that others there are probably nervous too. Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone has their own style of dance and how they interpret music. If you are relaxed, that   may help others be more comfortable and be themselves, which could open and create beautiful choreography!
*Be aware of the music playing while others are dancing in case that music is played for you; however, do not dance and choreograph while someone is dancing.
*Never turn down the opportunity to dance improv. This is how you can improve and become more comfortable with it. It may also encourage others to do it!
*There are communities that have improv classes, so you could always take a class. Even if it is not in dance, this can help you become more comfortable with getting up in front of others on the spot.


This will take time but don’t give up!  You may be asked to help choreograph some pieces if your teacher or choreographer is moved by or likes something you have done!



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