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Drama Class: Three Activities to Get Students Moving Naturally

By Beth Taylor

Here you'll find additional work on body movement and characterization for your students.

Neutral Walk

Before we can embody the movements of a character, we must first be able to make our own movements completely neutral. Neutral is the Dance and Movement blank slate upon which we draw the character.

Have your students sit in the "audience" section of your drama classroom. One at a time, they will walk from one side of the "stage" to the other, turn, and walk back again. The key to this exercise is that they must appear neutral.

Begin by asking your students, "What does neutral mean? What does neutral look like?" Answers may include:

* Straight posture;

* Relaxed shoulders;

* Arms relaxed at sides (not swinging);

* Relaxed heel to toe walk.

See what others they come up with.

After the discussion, they will take turns performing the neutral walk back and forth. After each student performs the neutral walk, allow the class to respond with a little feedback, then let the student walk one more time before the next student takes her turn. Of course, whether or not your students can give each other appropriate feedback is your judgment call, but it is something to aspire to.

Marionette Walk

The next step is very similar to Circle Walk Two. Your students will take turns doing this activity, so they can watch each other and give each other feedback.

Tell your student that there is a string on top of her head, and the puppeteer is pulling up on the string. The strait posture while this string is being pulled is the neutral walk.

Then, have the string be other places. For example, perhaps the string is on the end of her nose. What does she look like when she walks like that? Perhaps snooty?

For each student, start with the string on top of the head. Then move the string. For the next student, perhaps there is a string on each knee, pulling up. Ask the class what he looks like walking like that. Perhaps he is in a marching band! Let them come up with the answers.

Character Walk

And of course, the last step in this process is to let the students decide where the string needs to be. For example, if one student is a very old man, where will he have his string?

Have a list of characters that your students can take turns choosing where to put the string and walking like that character. Here is a short list to get your started; feel free to use these and add your own.

* small child (3 - 5 years)

* chain smoker trying to quit

* tired housewife

* boxing champ

* shy teenager