Signatures: Expressions of Identity






Our signature is personal.  It conveys how we represent ourselves through the written form.  Movement is at the core of our signature and expresses our personal preference for how we use space, time and energy.  In this session, participants will explore how their signature can inspire movements that express their personal aesthetic preferences.  Participants will create individual dances that will be combined with others to form a group dance.  The session content is applicable for intermediate, middle and high school levels dance and physical education classes.



Music:  CD title - Darkness in Dreams, by Yas-Kaz.  Available at


Equipment:  Paper. Use 8”x11”, one for each dancer or use long 8’ – 10’ pieces of paper.  Markers or crayons - one for each person.



Circle Change Warm-up


In this warm-up participants express individual identity through sharing movements that represent their preferences for use of space, time and force that express straight and curvy pathways.


Participants will form a circle.  One person begins a nonlocomotor movement that uses a straight or curved pathway.  The movement is repeated over and over while others in the circle follow.  Another person in the circle calls out, “change” and begins to perform another movement.  The circle group follows until another person calls out, “change.”  This process continues with different participants offering their own straight or curved movements.  Some participants may choose to have multiple turns while other can choose to only follow.



Individual Signature Exploration


During this exploration, participants use their written signature as content for exploring air and floor pathways through changes in time, space, force.  Each variation influences the creation and performance of the next.  Variations scaffold to transform the written signature from a literal representation to a moving abstract expression.  Feeling, emotions, personal experiences all contribute to the exploration experience.


Exploration Sequence


·        Write your typical signature on a piece of paper.  Use print, cursive, or a combination.  Notice the shape of each letter and how one letter connects to another.  Close your eyes and write your signature again on the paper.  This time feel the movement of your hand and notice the force and flow of the movement.  Each dancer can use an individual 8”x10” paper or several dancers can share the large papers.

·        Standing in your own space, use your hand to write your signature in the air at chest level.  This first air signature is theme of the movement.  Next, variations will evolve as changes in space, time, force, flow, body part and relationships are suggested. 


Variation explorations include:

·        Write your signature three times and each time increase the size.

·        Write your signature using three different body parts.  For example, write the whole signature with one body part or write different letters using different body parts.

·        Write your signature vertically from high to low or low to high using different body parts.

·        Write your signature and change the size of different letters.

·        Write your signature slowly, using different body parts and different letter sizes while some letters are performed horizontal and some are vertical.

·         Write your signature adding a locomotor movement, so you can expand the signature across the space.  Use different body parts.

·        Incorporate two or three different locomotor movements while you write your signature.

·        Write your signature as a floor pathway.  Add different locomotor movements.  Find a way to continue the floor pathway while different body parts are simultaneously writing the signature using an air pathway.

·        Add a change of direction; to the floor signature pathway.

·        Write your signature while turning.  Incorporate changes of level and different body parts.

·        Write your signature and add an accent by changing the time, size or force of the first and third letters.  Next, accent three different letters in your signature.

·        Write your signature and include one or two still pauses.

·        Write your signature with one or more of the letters moving the whole body off the floor into the air or moving low along the floor.

·        As a result of the exploring many variations, create a signature dance sequence that identifies your aesthetic preferences for movement.  Make it your own.  Include a beginning shape, moving signature sequence and an ending shape.  Practice your signature sequence, edit, and finalize.


Partners or Small Group Composition


Partners or small groups will share their signature dance sequences and collaborate to integrate the signatures into a composition.


·         Each dancer, one at a time, demonstrates her or his signature dance sequence to the partner or other group members.  After or before the demonstration the dancer shares his or her personal insights about how this sequence represents their aesthetic preferences for movement.

·         The sequences are demonstrated a second time, however, this time the observer(s) selects a movement to borrow from the performing dancer’s signature sequence and then incorporates the movement into their own sequence.  In this way multiple signatures are blended into each individual dancer’s sequence.

·         Dancers practice their new signature sequence variation which includes a movement from their partner or the other dancers in the group.

·         All dancers in the partnership or group perform their signature dance sequence at the same time in close space proximity.  They take notice to recognize how their sequences relate to each other in space and time.  This communal performance can occur two or three times to gain a sense of how they relate to each other.

·         The partners or group decide on a compositional form.  Each dancer performs her or his individual signature sequence yet, the dancers agree on a shared moment of common movement or stillness.  For example; dancers can begin and end in similar shapes, they can begin and end at the same time or at different times, they agree on a common time to pause, dancers begin or end connected to another dancers, the dance includes a unison movement phrase or they decide to accelerate to decelerate the dance.

·         Dancers practice, edit and share their performance with others.


Signature papers as props or sets.


The papers with the written signatures can be placed in the space as a dance set.  The 8”x10” papers or the long papers can be taped to the walls in an organized pattern or at random.  The 8”x10” paper can be taped to cones and placed in the dance space for dancers to move over, around and between.  The long piece of paper that contains multiple signatures can be shaped into a sculptural form and places in the space.