Dance As...

Quick Sketch

Utilize a dance exercise to tweak movement by focusing on a single quality in terms of playwriting.

When to Use

Any point in the writing process.

I prefer using this near the beginning of the writing process.

Dance as...

Dancers, like writers, have particular training that gives them strengths and weaknesses. Areas of expertise are heralded and large blind spots are often ignored for far too long. One of the tools choreographers can employ is abstract language to get an idea into the bodies of the dancers that can free them from their training. Genevieve Durham DeCesaro explained that dancers from a gymnastics background tended to dance with as much muscle as possible. Asking them to dance as "bones" or as air would free them conceptually to give a different quality to the choreography and, subsequently, to their performance.

The only part of the body playwrights tend to uniformly move is their fingers (generally across a keyboard or piece of paper). Playwrights do, however, deal with movement of a temporal sort in the structuring of their plays, in the formulation of their dialogue, and (increasingly) in the visual components described in their stage directions. This modified exercise asks playwrights to take a hard look at their blind spots (if they can see them) and alter course with abstract ideas to create a different temporal movement within their scripts. This exercise doesn't ask for a fundamental change in the script (necessarily), but for a different quality in a specific area of weakness.

The Exercise
  1. Re-read your entire scene.
  2. Ask yourself some questions:
  3. Choose at least one area of problem/difficulty (structure or dialogue) and identify what physical reality you most want it to resemble (that it currently does not): muscle, bone, air, fat, etc.
  4. Hide away your original scene to begin (though you may look back at it if that helps -- do not just edit the existing file though -- retype instead).
  5. Rewrite your scene by focusing on and applying this new abstract physical concept to your script. Focus.




Hopefully focusing on a part of your script as an abstract physical reality opened a new door into the movement of your play. Whether your focus was on the characters or the overall structure, this should have provided a different perspective on your own work. Thinking about he play in physical terms should help to take it away from the two-dimensional space of the page (or screen) and give a different entry point to the idea(s) you are trying to communicate.