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Drama warm-ups for performance
ELLEN OSBORNE: Hi, my name is Ellen Osborne and I'm the drama teacher at Gymea Technology High School. I'm also the drama ensembles coordinator for the State Drama Ensembles at The Arts Unit.
In this Art Bits module, I'm going to take you through a series of exercises you can use to warm up your body and keep your mind focused. You might like to use this video before you look at any of the other Art Bits modules or before a drama lesson or if you just need to move around a little bit.
In this video, you'll need some loose comfortable clothes, something you can move freely in, some activewear or a sports uniform might be great. Or you can go and change into your drama blacks if you would like. We also need a little bit of space to move around, particularly for our last two exercises. They're going to involve a little bit of walking, so a nice, clear area. If not, you can just do it on the spot. Don't stress too much.
1. Warming Up: So warming up is an essential part of drama for a number of reasons. One, warming up your muscles allows them to activate, to make them limber for physical activities and some of the demands of physical performances. Two, it can help you relax, shake off any of those performance anxieties or confidence, help you feel comfortable and ready for whatever the lesson holds. And three, it can help you train your voice and your body ready for performance mode. And this can help with things like improvisation or script work or group work, anything. So with these important aspects in mind, let's get started.
For our first exercise, let's take a moment to breathe. You might be in your room or your classroom. But let's tune in and get ready to focus for the duration of your workshop time. I'm going to lead you through the box breathing technique. So I'd like you to imagine a square box in front of you, or in your mind, with four sides. And let's imagine that each side of the box has four counted seconds per side. So when we begin, we're going to breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, and then hold for four seconds. We're going to do that four times through. And I'll count for you. So you might like to follow along and draw a box with your own finger. Or you can close your eyes and listen to the sound of my voice.
Ready? Let's go. Breathe in, 2, 3, 4. Hold, 2, 3, 4. Breathe out, 2, 3, 4. Hold, 2, 3, 4. Breathe in, 2, 3, 4. Hold, 2, 3, 4. Breathe out, 2, 3, 4. Hold, 2, 3, 4. Breathe in, 2, 3, 4. Hold, 2, 3, 4. Breathe out, 2, 3, 4. Hold, 2, 3, 4. One more. Breathe in, 2, 3, 4. Hold, 2, 3, 4. Breathe out, 2, 3, 4. Hold, 2, 3, 4.
Great work and you can return to your normal breath. The box breathing technique, I think, is really easy to remember and a really good one to just calm you down. It's easy to remember because of the four sides of the square, you hold and breathe in for four seconds each, and you repeat it four times through.
2. Moving and Stretching: Next, let's get right in there and get that heart rate up a little bit. So we're going to jump on the spot for eight counts three times through.
Ready? Go. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. 2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. 3, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Great. And then just shift a little bit side to side, a little bit of movement to shake it out. We didn't sign up for a PE class or a gym workout. But here we are, and you can shake it out.
We're going to use our nose to make some little circles in front of our face. Just be careful with your neck hygiene here and ensure that you're using your nose to draw those circles. So let's make some tennis ball sized circles just in front of your face. And let's move that up into a dinner plate. Now, you can look straight ahead, or you can follow that with your eyes. And then into a beach ball. Nice. And then reverse your direction. Beach ball size and then coming into a dinner plate size. My neck circles are a little bit dodgy. And then into a tennis ball size. Great. And shake it out.
I want you to just roll your shoulders back a few times. And then roll them forwards a few times. And you can twist it out and just release your spine. Great. Now let's give our quads a stretch. So put your weight onto one leg while coming onto the tip toe of the other foot. And then you're going to raise that leg, bring it around the back, and hold on for dear life. So if you're struggling to balance, you might like to hold your other ear. Or you can choose a spot in front of you. You might like to pretend I've got a monobrow. You can hold onto a wall. I've got no wall. This is an imaginary wall, but you might like a real one. Great. And let's shift over to the other side. Weight on the other leg, tiptoes up on the ground. And then raise your leg, swig it around. And you can hold onto your ear, monobrow, or an imaginary wall or a real one.
OK. Let's bring both of our arms up into the air. And you're going to drop one of your arms. So you can mirror image me if you like or whatever you feel comfortable with. And then the arm that's up, you're going to bring it over the top and lean towards the arm that's down. We're going to take that hand that's down and pat the side of our torso, just to stir up the blood. Give it a good pat. Great. Now, bring that top arm down. We're going to use that same hand and just give our shoulders a bit of a rub, a bit of a squeeze, as you roll your shoulder forwards and you roll your shoulder backwards. Great. And you can squeeze all down the arm, all the way down. And give it a pat. Great. And if you put your arms in front of you. You will actually find that you've got one arm longer than the other at the moment. I know. Freaky. So we can't leave our arms like that. We'll go around lopsided. So let's do the other side. So our arms up over our head. We're going to drop the other arm down and lean over towards it. Taking the arm that's down, that hand that's down, you're going to pat down the side of the torso. Pat, pat, pat. Give it a good pat. Stir up the blood. Great. And you're going to drop that arm that's up down, take your hands that you just used to pat, and give your shoulder a bit of massage. Rolling it back, rolling it forwards, squeezing all down the arm, giving it a pat, stirring up the blood. Great. And then if you put your hands out in front of you, they should be the same length again.
Great. And you'll find that the reason that maybe we've released some of those muscles is because we hold a lot of tension in our shoulders. So if you just give them a release, it helps you warm up and get ready to be limber.
3. Shapes: Now that our bodies are a little bit warmer and we're feeling loosey-goosey, we can move about more freely, let's start our next exercise. So in this, I'm going to ask you to experiment with all the different ways you can possibly move your body and create shapes. What kind of shapes can you make? They might be big, open shapes, or they might be little, closed shapes. It could be high. It could be low all the way down to the ground. You can play with direction if you wanted to as well.
Now, I'm going to name a few objects and you're going to use your body to create those shapes and hold them in a frozen position, also called a tableau. So go with your instincts, but also try not to go for the obvious choice. Now, our first shape is a pot plant. So let's talk about what kind of pot plan you are. Are you a tiny, little, spiky succulent? Or are you a big, leafy, fiddly, fig? Have you been watered recently? Are you feeling bright? Or have you been left in the corner to droop and to wilt? All right?
So I'm going to give you five seconds, and then you're going to create the shape of the pot plant. Once you've got it, I want you to hold it until I call out the next shape. So go, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. And hold your pot plant shapes. Amazing. Amazing. So you're going to go straight from this pot plant into the next object that I'm going to give you. And I don't want you to come out of it and think, oh, what should I do? I want you to go straight into it. Your next object is a crab. Go. Five seconds. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Hi, crabs. Great. Excellent. And we're going straight into our next shape. And it's going to be a fried egg. Go. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Amazing. Amazing.
Now we're going to extend on some of those shapes. And I'm going to get you to spell your name with your body. And if you're joining this video for a second time, you might like to try your last name or a word with some interesting letters or the longest word that you know. Now, I don't necessarily want you to start spelling your name like we would with the YMCA. That's just moving your arms into those shapes. And it is one option, but we can move our bodies in a lot of different ways.
So think about all the ways that you could use your body parts to spell your name. So I'll do a little demonstration. My name is Ellen, so I'll start with my capital E. And I'll just move over a bit, because I kind of want to write it this way. So you can write it along. You can spell it on the spot. So I'm going to start with my chin and draw my big capital E with my chin. And I'll go from the top and then to the middle and then all the way down to the bottom. And that creates some nice levels for me there, too, go from a high point all the way down to the ground at a low point. So the next letter in my name is an L So I'm going to signify that with a move across and then I'm going to jump up with my arms up over my head. So I'll create a nice, long L-shape. So I'll go up into an L. The next L in my name, and I think I'll just crumple it down almost like a crayon being drawn on a piece of paper. So I'm going to move across again. And I'll crumple that L all the way down to the ground. So again, using some nice levels. The next letter is an E. So I'm going to come up, move across, and I'm going to use my hips to draw the shape of an E, as if someone was looking down onto that E. So you don't need to necessarily have it as if someone was looking at it front on. And the last letter, the N, I'm going to draw with my foot and my knee. So I've just spelt out my name across. But you can spell it on the spot, whatever works for you.
So now is your turn to have a go at spelling your own name with your body.
4. Go, Jump, Stop. Clap: Great work. For our final exercise, we're going to use our bodies and our minds in a game of Go, Jump, Stop, Clap. You've probably played this in drama before. So this is where we might need a little bit more space, as I advised at the top of the video. But if you're pressed for space, you can just walk on the spot and jump on the spot and clap on the spot. Not a problem.
So in this game, I'm going to call out a series of instructions, and you're going to follow them. So when I say go, you're going to start walking, or start walking on the spot. When I say stop, you stop. When I say go, you go again. And then I might call out clap. So you just take a moment to clap and then keep walking. I might call out jump. So you take a moment to jump and then keep walking. I will also reverse those directions and try and confuse you a little bit.
Great. Let's start. Go. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Clap. Stop. Jump. Jump. Go. Jump. Clap. Stop. Clap. Go. Stop. Jump. Jump. Go. Stop. Jump. Clap. Clap. Clap. Jump. Jump. Go. Stop. Go.
Great. I hope you enjoyed me barking those instructions at you. Our next activity is we're going to reverse the go and the stop. So stop now means go and go now means stop. Let's see if that gets a little bit confusing. Jump still means jump, and clap still means clap.
Let's have a go. Go. Who moved on that first one? Not good. Stop. Stop. Go. Go. Stop. Jump. Clap. Stop. Go. Go. Stop. Clap. Jump. Jump. Stop. Clap. Go. Stop. Go. Stop. Jump. Clap.
Great. You can relax. Now, finally, I'm going to reverse clap and jump. Let's see how confusing this can get. OK, here we go. Jump. Jump. Clap. Clap. Clap. Go. Stop. Stop. Go. Stop. Clap. Jump. Jump. Clap. Stop. Go. Go. Stop. Stop. Go. Jump. Clap.
Great. And you can relax. And just shake it out when you get back to your normal positioning.
So thank you so much for joining me today in this Art Bites module. I hope you enjoyed your warm-ups. Now you're all limber, your mind's focused, you're ready to engage in one of the other Art Bites modules if you like, or you're ready for your drama lesson, or you've just had a chance to move around a little bit and get up out of your seat.
Thank you for joining me and I'll see you next time.
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