Thursday, 16 December 2010

Diamond Dance

The Diamond Dance is a great improv tool, not only for warming up but for stripping improv down to its barest essentials.
In a diamond dance, 4 people make a diamond formation and dance. (Usually to music, but I've done it with factory-floor robots and the same rules apply.) At any given time, all four people are facing in one of 4 directions. And in each direction, one player is in front. The player in front leads the dance and the other three follow – copying the leader exactly. When they turn, a new leader takes over.

It really mirrors the give and take four improvisers should use when on stage together and how when one player has focus, the others should be following him 100%. In diamond Dance, the following is a literal copying of him, but in a scene this is usually just listening. But listening with all of your power.

D. I. S. C. Over there.
Photo by Rajab, starfilm.org
In a diamond dance, when each of the followers is following 100%, is fantastic to watch. It's like a fully choreographed dance performance. The less people apply themselves to following, the more disjointed and uncompelling it becomes.

Another factor in making the result so unified is the smoothness when the focus changes. The smoother the transitions, the better it is to watch. If the new leader continues the motion of the previous one, it looks much more choreographed. Many new leaders feel compelled to immediately start something completely new and be "original," but in fact it is much more impressive and interesting when the same movements are continued. Obviously they do need to change somehow over time, but again it looks more impressive if they morph in keeping with what has already been set up. The same as in a scene. Continuing on the same path and building the relationships and story is more interesting than jumping from one thing to another in the name of "originality."

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