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Make graceful and lasting change

Gods of improv

Cindy Tonkin - August 5, 2008

If you do things on stage with beauty and grace, the gods of comedy will get jealous and begin following you.

Here is a photo of an Aztec God on the logo of a restaurant near my bus stop.

This morning’s impro was heavenly. Jet (a nickname for Jessica) is a gorgeous ethereal red head with a touch of the new age. She is unbelievable.

Warmed us up using a neutral stance and some stretching, then with a process called African Hunting Dog.

Begins by walking round on stage, and stopping as a group and beginning again (for a while until this gets smooth). Then one person moves and everyone else stays still, passing that focus around.

The side coaching at this point was about doing what is easy, and then looking where someone needs support.

Then we began a soundscape (this is where Jet’s quote about grace and beauty comes in).

Slowly 2 people move, then 3. We went to 5 (with 14 players). As more and more people move the sound builds. Then we reduced the number of people moving, the music getting less and less. Finally no one is moving. We ended on a series of deep breaths (and there would 6.5 million ways to end at least).

Really cool warm up.

Next Jet took us through what she calls Stacking to create a character.

Take your body to neutral. Practise going from normal to neutral so this can be smooth.

Then from neutral exaggerate one body part (an elbow, a hip, a knee). Let your body respond to that misalignment, and let the response go right up to your face. Then find a sound that this character would make. Finally a mantra for this character.

I found this much easier than the “lead with a body part” method, although it is essentially the same. When you build a character this way, you always have your character sound to fall back on.

So much wisdom comes from Jet’s mouth – a whole poetic life philosophy. I’m going to put it all in my next post!!

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