Introduction to Movement

Lesson 5:

Introduction to Movement


by Meredith Walsh


Educational Objective: Students will demonstrate their understanding of movement skills by performing in a group scene with emphasized movement.


Materials Needed: Situation Cards (for Step 6), Chalk and Board, Internet Connection


Hook: Explain—Ask students for applicable examples of movement, how different motions are associated with emotions. Also, discuss how stage performance would be pretty dull if there was no movement—it helps tell the story! Ask (standing up, in circle)—how do you move if you are [emotions and actions]… excited, angry, happy, scared/ afraid of own shadow, with a false façade of liking the person next to you, grief- stricken… swimming through Jell-O, like the floor is hot, in a winter wonderland, etc.—other possible examples from students.


Step 1—Transition: Discuss with students what they thought about the movement in the circle. Ask—how did you know how to move with a certain emotion or in a particular setting? Discuss—stage performance would be pretty dull if there was no movement or expression, it helps tell the story and make it believable!


Step 2—Instruction: Write MOVEMENT on the on the board (What makes movement significant? How does movement help give detail to your character?) Explain how motivated movement gives more power and emphasis to a character’s point or message. Every character’s movement should have a purpose. We use various strategies to get what we want.


Step 3—Activity: Explain to students that music will be playing in the background. One by one, come up and create a situation. Let the music help you visualize what might be happening in that setting. They can internally decide who and where they are, but they can’t vocally tell anyone else. They must create the image through action and movement. Each student will add their own characters and movement without saying a word. The music will change, so adjust the scene as you see fit.  Activity music link:


Step 4—Reflect: What influence did the music have on your actions? How did a student’s actions influence your own and your interaction with them? Now, think of a movie score— for example, you don’t hear a happy-go-lucky tune when Harry Potter is facing Voldemort; music can help define movement. Ask—what made you know what was going on, though no one was speaking? Most actors on stage are SEEN before they are HEARD, if they are heard at allà Clip that exemplifies stage movement: “Rowan Atkinson Live: ‘Pink Tights and Plenty of Props’”


Step 5—Instruction: Movement and stage position are contributors to the significance of a characters actions and words (reflection of preceding lesson on stage direction, which I feel would be an appropriate order to a unit). For example, you can recognize the power of entering from stage left, and the finality of exiting from stage right.


Significant aspects of movement:

  • Body Language: How your stance conveys a message
  • Emotion: How emotion is portrayed through motion
  • Purpose: Emotion and motives influence purpose—active movement


Step 6—Modeling: Ask two students to come to the front of the class. Give students the scenario that (student A) had just told them (student B) “no” to something they wanted. Give them the liberty of creating their relationship. Pose a question– How would student B maybe use voice and movement to portray their feelings? How might student A interact? Have volunteer students give a short example, then discuss what the students saw. Explain to students how stage movement must be “bigger than life”—more exaggerated in than in a normal situation.


Step 7—Individual Practice: Divide students into small groups. Each group will be given a situation card, in which each student will participate in portraying a scene. Within their scene’s situation, they must emphasize their movement rather than their voice. Give students time to organize and practice their assignment.

Situation Card Examples:

            At a surprise birthday party

            Looking for your lost dog

            An argument with a sibling/ siblings

            Seeing your best friend for the first time in a while

            Encountering a reluctant customer service desk employee


Step 8—Performance: Have groups perform their situations. The rest of the class views the presentations and determine if the performer’s movements were motivated by what was going on. Pose the question—could you tell their movements had purpose, conveyed emotion, and had proper use of body language?


Assessment: Students can be assessed on the situational performances based on how their movement was motivated, creating believable emotion, and active/ fitting use of body language.