Dance Movement – Mimicking Nature: Dance Like a Preying Mantis and Capture Clip on WebCam

Youtube is now an exciting source of moving images that can become inspiration for dance improvisation.

Teachers and their students can use images taken from the natural sciences and mirror movement. An improvisation through mime and mimicry will emerge.

Browse Youtube until you have found a good clear movement from an animal or creature in nature. Take the time to find one that is clear and interesting. Make sure when you project the clip onto the wall that you have the sound turned down. This is because you want the sound to be imagined by the students. This sample improvisation is from the video clip found by John Blatchford and posted in this article.

To get started

  • Play the video a few times.
  • Have a student move out in front of the movie clip.
  • Do not give the students permission to comment because you want to appeal to the mirror neurons of the student. This means that you are hoping to see them watch, copy, then synthesize, and create.
  • You the teacher are to mime for the students what you want them to do. With your hands indicate that you want the chosen student to mirror the movement in front of the preying mantis.

The student may struggle at first. It may take some time to correct balance and find a dance pose and movement that is comfortable. Be supportive of the student and if the other students want to laugh they must do so silently.

So that the chosen student can follow the movements of the preying mantis, you will need to arrange the computers so that he or she can see the picture. One way to deal with the need to see the picture in the process of mirroring is to arrange the computers so that the student is watching a screen on another computer as well as standing in front of the projected clip.

  • So far only one student has been ‘sweating the project’ and you the teacher who have been the leader by indicating instructions through mime and mimicking the preying mantis.
  • Now turn to the class and through mime indicate that they leave their sitting position – they are to come forward to join in the imitation.
  • The rest of the class is to face you and the chosen student. This means that two people face the 15 or so others students. You are now all moving as a preying mantis would.
  • Without talking, start to hum or make noises to accompany this movement .
  • With gestures and head nodding indicate that the other students very softly and quietly add sound.

If you have a technician ask him or her to use webcam to capture the dance movement. If you don’t have a technician find an advanced student who might be able to work web cam equipment for you. There is usually one enthusiast in any class.

  • Encourage improvisation and creative synthesis.
  • Allow students to amalgamate into groups and work together to begin a dance routine if this happens naturally.
  • As the students take the lead – turn off the video clip and allow the dancing to expand.
  • Wind the dance session down by gradually coming to a seated position.
  • As you catch the student’s eyes ‘nod them down’.
  • You may want to debrief verbally, but, perhaps writing about the experience in their journals might be more appropriate to the quite body movement exercise. There are many ways to journal so choose the one that is right for your class, or ask the students to make a decision about what method is right for them.

Choose an appropriate time to edit the film with the class, it might be on the same day or this project can become a longer term venture. When you are happy with the outcome, and if your school permits, upload your film clip to Youtube or just use it internally within your school.

  • If you want to protect the identity of the students find a way to blur their faces in Adobe Premier or another editing program.
  • In this way you might be able to build a library of original dance movement for your school in the electronic filing system.

If you feel a little nervous about Dance perhaps this article will make you feel a little easier. If you have questions please post them to the discussion boards.