Keeping Creative at Home: How to explore inner & outer space

Shermaine Slocombe and Maria da Luz Ghoumrassi share activities which use objects and places in your home to invent movement and ignite imagination

9 June 2020

Image credit: 'Metrum' by Erwin Wurm

Whether you're a teacher, a parent, or both, we hope our Keeping Creative at Home blog series will help you and your children through this tricky period of adjustment.

We're aware there's currently a lot of pressure on parents in particular around home education. So, first and foremost, all of the activities in this series are designed to be fun, creative experiences for your children (and hopefully for you too!), but there is also potential for learning in all of them.

Share the activities below with your children or students to get their imagination's working and their bodies moving!

These activities will help you appreciate the space around you differently. Mistakes are okay and you may feel a bit self-conscious, and that is okay too. You will feel charged, full of energy and excited in the knowledge that opportunities exist in your own home to create movement.

Staying safe

Always ask permission to use objects and rooms

What you will need

  • Music of your choice
  • Your home and everything in it
  • Paper and pens
  • Print outs of action words – download here

1. Warming up – paint the space

Warmups are good for flexibility and help prevent injury. Make sure you have plenty of space around you.

Imagine you are in outer space and your mission is to catch as many stars as you can. Reach out and clap your hands together to catch the stars. Don’t forget the stars are on the ceiling, walls, floors and hiding in corners.

Using the action words to create a warmup. Explore each word with movement using different body parts such as the hands, head, shoulders, waist, hips, knees and feet.

Try interpreting the action words in different ways. For example, does roll always mean roll on the floor like a log or are there other ways you can roll? Your hands or head can roll too. Create a short movement sequence and notice how you feel after the warmup. You could try saying the words as you do the movements. Don’t forget to breathe!

Want to go further? Try these:

  • Make a chatterbox with the action words on the inside
  • Add a story or a song that can help you highlight the action words

2. Filling the space

Use the furniture, walls and obstacles in your home as inspiration to create interesting shapes with your body. Try expanding your body to fill the biggest room. Imagine stretching your body from one side of the room to another, or add stillness like an ornament on the shelf.

Staying safe: avoid the stairs and make sure you have plenty of room to avoid bangs and breakages!

Our action words give inspiration for movement, but here are some other ideas you can try (with adult supervision):

  • Stretch and spiral on the bed
  • Forward roll on the sofa
  • Shrink in the smallest space
  • Roll like a carpet or rug
  • Crouch to be as small as your smallest toy
  • Balance like a cushion on its end
  • Stretch like the tallest object in the house
  • Hop and step over the patterned carpet or floor
  • Lean on a heavy wardrobe
  • Twist like a plant

Want to go further? Try this:

3. Sculpting in space

Find objects around the house that inspire curved shapes or straight lines that you can make with your body e.g. a clock, a plant, a table. Touch them, if you are allowed, and trace their outline outline with your hand. You could draw your object, using its shapes and shadows as inspiration.

Now choreograph a dance solo. Choose one object and find five different shapes you can make with your body inspired by your object. Try experimenting with different ideas. Piece your chosen five shapes together to create a short sequence.

Repeat it until you know it by heart, then add some transitions (when movements and shapes merge or link). Are your movements strong, precise, light, or sharp? Do some movements low to the ground, medium height and high in the air. Try dancing your solo to different types of music to change the speed. Try it in slow motion. Does it change your piece?

Want to go further? Try this:

  • Teach your dance to someone else and create a duet. Try dancing at the same time in unison, or one of you could start before the other person, so your movements overlap.
  • Involve your family to form a dance company! Each select your favourite objects or toys and assemble them to create a still-life. Try recreating the shapes with your bodies.

4. Lost in space

Warm up:

  • Step into every corner of the room; the places that never see feet
  • Try walking with different body parts leading
  • Walk like an astronaut in space without gravity
  • Move like a helium balloon floating in the sky

Now try some ‘contact improvisation’ with someone in your family using a balloon, a small ball or cushion. Standing close together, e.g. back to back, keep the chosen item between the two of you and whilst you are both constantly moving, you must roll it around, sharing the weight of it without using your hands. Try using your back, head and shoulders. You don’t need to plan the movements – and it may take a bit of practise!

Next, using your favourite toy or an object, consider how you can hold it so it looks like it is floating in space. Develop your puppetry skills by making the object breathe, twirl, float and tumble in space and land gently on the ground. The movement needs to be smooth, light and controlled. Imagine you are orbiting the globe – make up your own story and narrate it whilst moving through space, soaring over islands, famous landmarks, rivers and oceans.

Want to go further? Try these:

5. Shape the space

Observe objects that you can pick up and handle, or that you can observe through a window in the outside world. Follow the object’s form, mood or pattern. Can you find a connection between you and the object?

You could try echoing and mimicking:

  • the trees and its movement of leaves and branches
  • a bird perched on the fence or bird feeder
  • a leaf or an empty packet of crisps in the wind
  • a pet - how and where they move through the house

Copy the movements of small and light objects by:

  • dropping a pillow, a scarf and or a cushion
  • scrunching up a piece of paper and letting it unfold and unfurl
  • freezing like something in the freezer and then melting like a lollypop in the sunshine

You could try moving your:

  • head like a balloon
  • hands as if in water
  • feet as if in the rain

Create two contrasting solos. Give your movements a heartbeat; find a rhythm or a beat. Experiment by changing directions. Try adding a feeling and dance how you are feeling right now e.g. happy and light, frustrated and heavy. Perform it to someone – can they guess what your starting points were?

Want to go further? Try this:

6. Space exploration

Imagine you are looking down on your house with a bird’s eye view and draw a map of all the rooms. Don’t forget to include all the doors, big furniture, stairs and cupboards. Using your map, transform your rooms into new spaces. A door can become a secret portal to another world. Behind the sofa is a wormhole leading to a completely different location or time. A rug could transform into a magic carpet.

Use your map to go on an adventure and explore. Give yourself a name and a superpower – how will use your superpower and how does your character move? Are you looking for buried treasure? Who did you meet, what can you feel, see and hear? Use your senses and notice if your breathing changes. Is there anyone you could take with you?

Want to go further? Try these:

7. Mapping space

Using the same map of your house from the previous activity, make a dance map. Draw three or four stars on your map, and connect the stars using different types of lines, e.g. curved, straight, dotted, wiggly and zigzagged. Try walking your lines on your map to go from star to star.

How does a dotted line compare to wiggly line and how does this affect your movement? Now try walking in curved, or spiral lines. How does it feel? Turn this into a sequence using the action words and any movements you remember from the previous activities.

What happens when you encounter an obstacle or another family member? Can you go over, under, around and/or through? Attempt dancing the pathways as if you are an astronaut, a superhero, a robot, an animal; as if you are tired, in a rush, excited and or really happy. What happens when you get to your destination? Is there anywhere to hide along the way?

Want to go further? Try this:

Shermaine Slocombe is an artist, choreographer and educator experienced in engaging young people in creative learning projects. Follow her on Twitter at @shemyslocs

Maria da Luz Ghoumrassi is a dance artist and educator working with interdisciplinary arts. She teaches regularly for various organisations including Greenwich Dance.

Both artists are passionate about dance and the arts and are committed to finding ways to make them accessible to all regardless of age and ability.

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