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Begin by having dancers choose one word that describes their body (e.g. strong, powerful, changing, mine), and post their “my body is...” statement on the mirror.
Next, ask dancers to craft a phrase inspired by that word and by their body.
Options for complexity vary based on age/level (share phrase work with class as it is, or could continue to develop with choreographic tools, put in combination with classmates’ work, etc.).
This exercise asks for a great deal of vulnerability, and best serves advanced students that are comfortable with improvisation. Mary has used this exercise yearly for nearly a decade, and has consistently seen it to be one of the most impactful LYBW experiences for many teens.
Start with some reflective journaling - ask dancers to write about a favorite body part, as well as a least favorite. Two groups take turns improvising for one another. For the first round, dancers initiate movement from their favorite body part. For the second, they initiate movement from their least favorite. Finally, dancers initiate movement from both.
Allow time for reflection and conversation, facilitating support and community. Dancers are invited to share about their own experience, and/or about the experience of watching their classmates move through this exercise. In the past, we have not included any mirror posting as a part of this activity. We often use it at the end of the week when the mirrors are already very full of positive statements, so rather we use this experience to reflect on what it is like to dance without the mirror. During this discussion time, often what comes up is how much beauty dancers see in one another, even when watching their peers move from their least favorite body part.
This activity can be equally interesting and powerful with dancers that know each other well, or those that don’t.
Have dancers partner up. One dancer improvises while the other observes. Then, the watching partner “reflects” back the beauty that they saw in their partner through movement. This may look like repeating specific steps or actions they saw, or may just embody tone or quality. Switch roles and repeat. This exercise could also be used to generate choreography.