Body & Body Parts

Body & Body Parts

Goal - Essential question

A first meeting with contemporary dance on the theme of Body & body parts.
The participants will discover through this theme different principles and variations of contemporary dance individually and interacting with another bodies.

Practical setup

Two leaders and preferably two helpers/assistants – one of them is managing the music of the workshop.
Sometimes we provide another option or a variation of the same exercise.
The room has been prepared and on all four walls there is a colored  paper that can be referred to rather than left, right, front, back.
In the estimated duration of the workshop the explanation is included.


Rather show physically by being an example rather than only explain.
If explanation is needed – use pictures/ imaginary pictures.
Try to offer different ways of receiving the information given, verbally, imaginary pictures, touch, spatial awareness, sounds, rhythm, music.

Hi & welcome | Estimated time: 4 min

  • Gather in a circle introducing the leaders & helpers
  • Quick presentation of the facilities, toilets and choice of clothes.
  • Presenting the theme of the workshop, the basic structure of the workshop.
  • Good to mention that is ok to go to the toilet at any time, remember to take care and that there is No. right or wrong. This workshop welcomes everyone and we will together make sure we all are able to take part.
  • Introduction of the leaders & helpers.

Option: If there is participant with visual impairment this is a good place to take a tour of the room of the workshop using touch – a touch tour.

1. Pointy finger + name exercise

The purpose with this exercise is to get to know everybody´s name and get a small glimpse of everyone´s personality and introducing a brief experience of touching another body/person.

Standing in a circle.
No music needed
Estimated length: 8 min

The leader manages the attention in the room and implies with the body language and facial expression that there is something in the pocket. Suddenly a pointy finger pops out. The leader points to himself saying his or her own name – the finger takes a little journey and offers the pointy finger to next person’s finger in line (this person should be a helper which makes it easier to set and show an example). Next person in line meets up with his or her pointy finger and point to him or herself and says his or her name – that person’s finger journey starts and seeks the next person´s finger.

This happens for everyone in the group and it is a way of introducing different elements just by showing (levels, tempo, mime, theatrical qualities, comical associations, connotations, associations, qualities etc).


If a person with visual impairment is participating one option can be to make imaginary name for every movement or a sound so the person can use that to create a movement (Eg. Peder with “the explosion flower with two dots”). Another option is to make the person feel the different movements from the other participants moving.

If a person with hearing impairment is participating one option can be to use the exercise below Sign name as explained below.

Sign name

The purpose of this exercise is to get to know everybody´s names with a sign name as used in deaf culture time. Just as personal as your name, but easy and accessible for persons with hearing impairment. This creates an easy- to-remember name, everyone doesn´t need to know sign language and it saves time.

  • Gathered in a circle.
  • No music.
  • Estimated length: 15 min

The leader presents the idea of sign name. A personal name created from personal qualities, actions, habits or interests. Help and suggestions might come from everyone but have to be agreed upon from the user. The leader shows his or her sign name with a movement and lipmimicking. Next person in the circle repeats the leaders sign name and then the process of finding a sign name for that person starts. Once agreed upon this continues to the next person until everybody has a sign name.

Second part:
To get the sign name settled you can start with the leader saying his or her sign name and then the next person in the circle repeats the leaders sign name and says his or her the sign name. The next person repeats the sign name of the previous person and says his or her the sign name. This goes on until everybody´s the sign name has been said out loud.

Variation on the second part:
To get the sign names settled after assigning the sign names you can start again with the leader saying his or her name and then the next person in the circle repeats the leaders name and says his or her sign name.
Next person repeats the sign name of the leader and says his or her name.
Next person repeats the sign name of the leader, the sign name of the previous person and says his or her name. Every person repeats all the names from the beginning and add his or hers in the end. This goes on until everybody´s name has been said out loud.

2. Skin, muscles, bones - waking up the body in three depths

The purpose of the exercise is to wake up the different layers of the body from the outside as well as introduce three depths of touch- starting with your skin, moving into muscles and then bones. All this with the breath actively engaged.

Continuing in a circle.
Music of your choice -maybe some nice floating background music.
Estimated length: 4 min

Breath in and breath out. Rub your hands together to create heat. Start with the outer layer of the body – the skin. Use one hand in a swiftly and energetic way waking up the skin on the other hand, working yourself through the arm on all sides, shoulders, back of shoulders, neck, and chest. Remember to use your breath. Change hand over to the other shoulder and the other arm. The two hands are No. w activated. Work from the chest down toward the stomach, side of your body, try to reach the back parts your body. Moving on to pelvis back and front, one leg at a time all the way down to your feet.

Going back up and start with layer two – a slightly deeper grip acknowledging the muscles, feeling the tension and the texture. Work yourself through the body in the same way as above.

Third time you are going for the bones, feel your bones and how the skeleton of your body feels and is constructed.

Finish of by breathing in – stretch your arms up and use the hands starting on your head showering down on the body swiftly through the skin – all the way down. Repeat three the last shower three times.

3. Stretch, bend and twist

The purpose of the exercise is warm up the body by stretching, bending and twisting.

Gathered in a circle
Some nice floating background music with or without rhythm.
Estimated length: 5 min

Here are some suggestions of elements that can be used. Feel free to add in or change.
The leader shows and everybody follows.
No learning or explanation before.
Your choice if you have music with a rhythm that we then suggest that you follow or have one without rhythm if you won´t use it.

If you use legs make sure you also provide something for participants not using legs.

Start with breathing in, arms up along your sides, palms together above your head pulling them down through your centerline.
Repeat three times.

Reach arms up above your head – breathe in.
Release them down breathe out.
Repeat three times.

Say yes.
Looking down in front of you and up above you, moving your head – repeat three times.
Head to the middle, looking from side to side, saying no a few times.

Rolling shoulders front, up, back, down – repeat four times.
The opposite way – back, up, front and down – repeat four times.

Bending upper body sides and bending legs pretending to pull up carrots from the earth on each side of your body.
Repeat four times – alternating sides with a “rolling down the upper body” in between before you go again.

Fast feet and fast hands together moving out from center on both sides and in again.
Out, out, in, in


front front, middle middle, side side, middle middle, back back, middle middle, side side. middle middle

Shifting weight from side to side

Moving out from the circle all together and then moving in.

Twists for your upper body, reaching up with one arm to opposite corner/side, other side, then down corner/side and other side.

Crawling (alternate arm moving back of you and up around one at a time)

4. Freeze and investigate

The purpose with this exercise is to break the ice and move together. We will put a little focus on each and everybody while moving to easy, imaginary inspiring instructions. We will also practice stilnessl, experience proximity to others, introduce qualities and elements that will appear later.

Spread out in the room
Music of your choice – maybe different types of music to stimulate choices
Estimated length: 9 min

Start by mingle amongst each other in space – your own path.

First instruction:
• Move like being running water – a stream or a river.

(The leader entertains the instruction by more words if needed but mainly by being a dancing example and moving around to inspire… While moving – the leader will explain what happens next:

Keep moving as different waters…
soon I will call out two names.
Those persons will freeze wherever they are.
All the others will immediately drop what they are doing and go find these persons.
Without touching them we will investigate and explore the shape and spaces they create.

The two persons that will freeze is…. X and… Y!
Let´s explore their position and spaces.
Levels, holes, under, around, over, in between….”

Second instruction:
• “Now everybody including the frozen ones will move as if you had no balance – go!! You might almost fall around, keep trying to be in balance… but you fail….”

And then repeat the previous:
“Keep moving with no balance… soon I will call out two names and then those persons will freeze wherever they are….”

The rest of the instructions:
• Now everybody (including the frozen ones) will move as smooth as a cat … go!!

• Now everybody (including the frozen ones) will move as you would go through a jungle … go (through bushes, in high grass, jumping over a river)!!

• Now everybody (including the frozen ones) will move as if it is very slippery on the floor or any flat surface.
It´s hard to stop and you slip all the time… go!!

• Now everybody (including the frozen ones) will move as you would be an overcooked spaghetti… go (very loose, no joints, no stability)!!

• Now (everybody including the frozen ones) will move as you would be a fish… go (maybe swimming slowly, or quick, change direction, looking for friends or looking for food, maybe escaping a shark, finding new nice sea areas)

• Finish of with an introducing of tempo: Ok – everybody.. great… let us move faster – and faster… and faster… now slower, slower – like an action movie in slow motion towards a circle in the room… (Here is great with contrasting intense music) and lets just have a pause, let´s move again – short pause, move again – and pause…. … Thank you.

5. Quality and body parts -part 1

The purpose of this exercise is to take time to focus on a few selected parts of the body that are the same for all participants. Then we will add on and try out some specific movement actions and qualities.

In a circle
Music of your choice
Estimated length: 8 min

We are all placed in a circle.
We all start with the already introduced pointy finger (choose a body part that everybody can use). Introduce the action of bending. Explore how you can bend your pointy finger
(the leader/and helpers may inspire and show different options if ideas are needed.)

Now introduce the quality sharp – explore your pointy finger in a sharp way.

Let´s add another pointy finger. Now you have two. Explore sharp movements and bendy movements.

A possibility of interaction between participants here…

We will now change body part to elbow. Exploring bendy elbows and then sharp elbows and then two elbows.
The circle may open up.

If there is time try the same thing with the whole arm.

Take a short journey with these parts of the body and let´s gather on the blue side of the room.

6. Quality and body parts part 2

The purpose of this exercise is to take time to focus on a few selected parts of the body that are the same for all participants while adding on movement actions and qualities as well as travelling across the room.

From one side to the other
Music of your choice
Estimated length: 8 min

We will go back to the pointy finger and the sharp movement.
Now we will add one more thing – lengthening. Move a body part sharp, then lengthen it and repeat until you reach the other side.

So now we will use the elbow in the same way but cover more space across the room over to the red side

Let´s gather on the blue side of the room.

7. Open/Close

The purpose of this exercise is to explore different parts of your body with the actions open and close.

Gather in a circle
Music of your choice
Estimated length: 5 min

Go through open and close in four different variations:

• Arms open up as a start of a hug (+ wide turned out legs) and closes as in hugging yourself (+ turned in knees) for example.
Repeat a few times.

• Eyes – open close
Repeat a few times.

• Spine/upper body – open by releasing your stomach and close by sucking your stomach in.

• Side of the body – open a side- other side. Mention that while one side is opening – the other is closing.

Encourage to explore and investigate – what other places in your body is possible to open or close?

Throat, neck, armpit, back of knees, hands, feet

8. Open/Close across the room

The purpose of this exercise is to explore different parts of your body with the action open and close while covering space.

From one side to the other (note the color)
Music of your choice
Estimated length: 8 min

Gather on the red shorter side and travel eg three by three exploring open and closing across the floor. When participants are ready – ask for small and big openings, maybe add levels (high, middle, low) and tempo (slow, middle, fast).

Small 3 min break for water

9. Introducing elements for a little dance

The purpose of this exercise is to introduce or repeat elements that will be used in a small dance based on the theme body and body parts.

Spread out in the room,
Music of your choice
Estimated length: 6 min

Lead and encourage the participants to move inspired by water. Let them find their versions of their water or even their invented water.
Stream, river, beam of water, spray, fog, sea, watergun, raindrops…. Maybe even pink water?

Go through levels in the room while being water: low, middle, high

Open close as seashells and maybe some interactions with others.

Go through the tool size: small, middle, large and larger – waves in a storm.

Freeze and melt


Finish of by finding one or a few difffernt connection point to another body. Then you might try to move all together while being connected.

Parts becomes a unit. The rivers become a lake.

10. The sea

The purpose of this exercise is to make a score together that we can dance as a small dance based on the theme body and body parts.

In the whole room
Music of your choice
Estimated length: 20 min

We have pictures to help the explanations.
Find a good place for the pictures so they also can work as a memory map.
This might be done in two or more groups with the waiting group waiting in the positions of the first picture or an audience.

1.Be a water in a lake (from exercise No. 9).

2.The water travels in your chosen level (high, middle, low from exercise No. 9) –  towards the middle – connect to each other physically (from exercise No. 5 and 6). and become one with the sea.

3.The sea travels to the North pole and turns into ice (everybody is connected and travels as one whole big sea)

4.Global warming happens – the iceberg melts (from exercise No. 9) and collapses downwards as a low sea – as far down as you can (still connected).

5.One by one releases the connection point and engages in a finger dance (from exercise No. 1). through the room – and becoming a sea in another corner.

6.The wind starts to blow, waves starts to appear and increases in size (from exercise No. 9).

7.One selected person starts. One by one is pushed out by the storm and moves in a stormy way to a calmer place and becomes a seashell. The seashells are constantly opening and closing themselves (from exercise No. 7 and 8) making a calm dance together. Maybe closing and opening around each other?

8.Find a seashell friend, make a dance towards to the middle of the room.

9. Play with each other in the sea world. Happy herrings, dolphins, hot springs, whales, bubbly water and maybe even waterfalls. Have your moment!

10.After a play – get as close together as you can but not touching each other, take down the speed and move with a feeling of seaweed in a sea.

Warm down

The purpose of this exercise is to gather the group, refocus and give attention to the body with slow stretches, breath and extra care. We finish with a small little hand dance.

We gather in a circle
Music of your choice
Estimated length: 5 min

Breathe in, breathe out two times
Arms makes a half circle starting down and out from the body up over the head – stretch up and let your arms just release down.
Chin towards your chest and you will dive down as far as you can to roll up your spine again.
Two hands together and rub up some heat. Put them somewhere on your body that needs some extra care or attention. Breathe there for a moment.

Release your arms down, stretch up one last time – arms to the side – touch the hands of the person next to you – we do a small hand dance before we finish.