Creative Dance Exercises: 5 Rhythms and More [2 Videos]

Dance Improvisation To Music

Dance Improvisation To Music

Creative dance exercises are very good for you. Did you know?

Many people live far too much in their heads. Our bodies are much more than vehicles for our thoughts. For proper oxygenation of all parts of our bodies, we need to move.

Some forms of physical exercise are quite repetitive, like running or lifting weights, two popular forms of exercise which only train a few muscles and neglect all the others, with the effect that the adepts are so often injured and in pain.

Instead, I much prefer activities that are more creative, and wholesome, which use all of our muscles, and our brains too at the same time. So here you will find several leads to get you started with including in your schedule on a regular basis some creative dance exercises for yourself and your well-being.

My Experience and Advice

I’m a slow learner for physical movement, struggling with coordination, rhythm, flexibility and I’m also easily prone to injuries. However, I’ve improved and I’m still improving. Nowadays, at 48 yo, I’m reasonably competent at many activities, all of which I started as an adult: figure skating, dance, acroyoga, etc. I’m also naturally a good runner, a rare physical activity for which I have a natural talent.

Some of my advice about physical exercise for making the journey easier consists of:

1. Try new things slowly and carefully to avoid injuries. Learn what your current limits are and strive to extend them. Practice regularly your acquired skills so you keep them sharp.

2. Take lessons from others, about the physical activities that interest you, and focus on mastering the basics. If you’re not sure where to start, I highly recommend dance, of any form you like, as this is the what uses your body in the most well-rounded fashion.

3. Have fun with using free-form movement, i.e. dance improvisation, to explore what your body can do. Actually start your journey with dance improvisation.

This post is about this 3rd piece of advice. You may find that taking lessons about a sport is tough at times, and that a remedy for that is to simply move more freely.

My Stepfather’s Story

Sadly, my stepfather passed away last year, most likely from a heart attack. Like many people in their mid-70s, he didn’t believe in physical exercise.

His cardiovascular system was in terrible shape. From his humanities studies, he held strange beliefs like “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and that as long as your mind is healthy and thinks positively, your body will be fine.

Unfortunately for him, science tells us otherwise. All our cells, especially our brain cells, need an ample supply of oxygen to stay healthy.

The body needs to move often and regularly so that muscles stay strong, tendons, ligaments and connective tissues stay supple and flexible, and that blood flows unimpeded and richly oxygenated thanks to efficient breathing.

Dance Improvisation Examples

Here are two examples of dance improvisation, the first without music, and the other one with music.

For these demos, I gave myself the only instruction to stay on the green mats. I had no idea how I would end up moving.

Upon watching the videos, I had several thoughts on how I would do it differently next time, and also of things that I liked, where I felt in flow.

I recommend starting without music, so that you don’t feel pressed, or influenced, by the music to go somewhere before you are ready. This is better for exploring what you can do, which is the basic reason for dance improvisation. Yet adding music is fundamental to dance, to dancing to the beat of the music, and even if you start with a slow track, it will feel fast at first. It will also add a style to your dancing, so that you will naturally be dancing in different ways to different tunes.

Hopefully these videos will convey the idea that no special skill is required in order to dance. Dancing is really just about moving in space, and everyone can do it.

Exercises at Home

It is very important that you video-record yourself when doing dance improvisation, and watch it, so that you can observe, learn and improve from what you did.

After your first few recordings, you might want to build on your success by taking your improvisation in more structured directions.

Here are some ideas:

a. You can dance to different songs and music styles

b. You can pick elements that you’ve seen in other people’s dances

c. You can use databases of movements in other formats. For example, here is a book addressed at school teachers who run group activities, “Building Dances“. It consists of activity cards, each describing a type of movement. You can play with the cards to build dances from separate movements.

There will be many benefits to your efforts at dance improvisation:

1. You’ll be more fit all around

2. You’ll have fun

3. You’ll learn the movements of specific sports or dances faster

4. You’ll become more creative in other areas of your life too

5 Rhythms

If you’re ready to join a group, there might be a 5 Rhythms group near you.

Over 60-90 minutes, you’ll be free dancing continuously to songs fitting into 5 different styles, and occasionally you will be interacting with others. It’s a lot of fun and a great workout.

If you’re interested, and I very much encourage you to try it when you feel ready, you can find much more information on the Wikipedia page for the 5 Rhythms, which were invented by Gabrielle Roth.

Voice Movement Therapy

A more specialized form of free-form movement is voice movement therapy. As always, you can find out more about it on Wikipedia with the pages on Paul Newham and on Dance Therapy, while the VMT organization can lead you to a teacher near you.

At its origin, It’s a therapy for performers who use their voice, but it’s wonderful for anyone of us too. The idea behind VMT is to associate movements to different voice registers.

You will sing and dance at the same time, producing high pitch sounds when moving in an upright posture, and low pitch sounds when moving low on the ground.

This helps with freeing the voice, relaxing and strengthening the breathing and exercising the rest of the body all at the same time.

Conclusion

What forms of physical exercise are you practicing regularly?

How good are they for you and how can this be improved?

How creative are they and how can you make them more creative?

Looking forward to hearing about your experience or answering any questions below!

You’re also very welcome to like the dance improvisation videos and comment on them.

Last word: and if you’re curious about dance improvisation on ice, check out Le Patin Libre. We are big fans! Their techniques allow even beginner skaters to safely perform dance improvisation on ice!

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8 Responses to Creative Dance Exercises: 5 Rhythms and More [2 Videos]

  1. Akshay says:

    That’s an awesome post. I’ve learned a lot of insights on dance and it’s related therapy. Reading your post was an enjoyable experience and at the same time it consists of a lot of information. 

    I’ve never tried dancing as an exercise. Though I dance during parties and special occasions🙂 Since, how long have you been practising this? I’ll surely try it out and contact you then. 

    Thanks a lot for sharing this useful information. 

  2. JJ says:

    This is very useful. The videos are very helpful and Im going to be checking them out a bit more. I hope to reached peak physical form and really hope to be able one day to achieve that goal and add that to the many things I would’ve accomplished by then. Do you think this will be possible for me to achieve ?

  3. Alenka says:

    I love this article! And I really enjoyed watching the videos. The best thing about it is that it truly requires no special skill but gives permission to be creative and free. We spend our days being boxed in all day long, and this is such a wonderful way to overcome that. Your guidance is gentle but obviously knowledgable. I will head over to read your other articles for some more ideas on how to keep fit in this unique and accessible way.

    Best,

    Alenka

  4. Aabidah Ahmed says:

    When I dance in a club, I always tend to go wild, because I never get out of the house, as I have a 5-month-old baby to look after. My point is I let all my frustrations out and reading this article made me realize I’ve been getting some exercise in while doing this.

    This is, of course, different from dancing in a club. I like dancing and getting everything out there. Now I know that I can use this as an exercise routine at home.

    Thank you for this post. I’ll be bookmarking this to go through everything again when its “time to dance”.

    All the best.

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