Bring it! part 2: how to practice in class

Yesterday we talked about the importance of committing to your goals within the scene.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you make the choreography as fast as humanly possible with as much viciousness as you can manage. If all you’re doing is trying for fast and vicious, you’re not actually committing to the scene. You’re committing to your impressions of the scene. Remember that committing to the pursuit of your goals means that you need something from your scene partner. You’re fighting this person, because they hold the key to your success. You have successes and failures in each moment of the fight scene.

You can practice this in class, long before you receive choreography:


First, make sure that you’re actually present. Once the drill becomes comfortable, ask yourself if you’re paying full attention to your partner, or simply repeating movements? Are you already pretending that you are fighting them? Maybe take a step back and find out how the movements work together.

Then, run the drill several times while acknowledging your wins and losses. When do you almost succeed in your attacks, when do you successfully defend, where are the near-misses? Start simple. If you try to push the emotional commitment right off the top, you’ll just “schmackt”. You’ll gesture towards intensity, rather than finding genuine place from which to react.

Once you’re present and you have mapped the highs and lows of the fight, give yourself some simple Given Circumstances to play, starting with your relationship: are they your friend? your lover? your sibling? Do the drill with this relationship, and pay attention to how that influences your execution of the movements. Perhaps try several different relationships.

NB: Do not share any of your choices in this series of exercises with your partner. That information is not important. What’s important is that you choose something meaningful to you that allows you to connect to the scene.

Then add a twist on that relationship: some reason that you would be in conflict with someone you care about. Betrayal is a good one, or perhaps difference in beliefs and the other person cannot see the error in their ways (You can use your “social hot buttons”: religion, racism, sexism). Do the drill.

Then, get really specific. What was the imaginary conversation and what were the imaginary action that led to this conflict? How long ago? Were other people involved? Is this an ongoing offence that has finally boiled over, or is it a sudden change? Ask yourself to delve into the details and create a history that enables you to connect to this story. Do the drill.

Remember to allow nuances to surface. If you do this series of exercises thinking, “you did this to me so I should feel this way! Yeargh!!!” and then attack your partner with your impression of rage, you’re not reacting to a set of circumstances. You’re showing the audience your impression or opinion of a situation. Instead, use this series of exercises to practice genuinely connecting while there’s no attachment to a specific outcome like rehearsing a show or preparing for your exam.

Maximize your learning experience.

Many thanks to Tim Klotz, of Youngblood who first introduced me to this style of rehearsal.