Combinations, Lego and Improvisation

Combinations, Lego and Improvisation

This week I was teaching some combinations, that could be used in improvisation. And I had a bit of time free after class, so on a whim, I decided to video them. Because that might help people.

Sorry for filming vertically, horizontally just didn’t work at the time.

First the Farnham class combinations. These are all done in a Sa’aidi style.

Heel Drop

Horse step

Step Touch

And the Guildford class combinations. We were using these in Oriental style, but they could easily be done in other styles.

Figure 8s

Hip Drop


I don’t teach combinations to create mini-choreographies for people to use (though, by all means, go ahead and use them!), but because they’re like lego bricks.

Imagine you get a Lego kit to make the Millenium Falcon. There are instructions as part of the kit, a picture on the box, you follow the instructions, put bricks together into blocks, and then put the blocks together. And bingo! You’ve got yourself a Millenium Falcon.

But, if you wanted to be a bit more imaginative, playful, mischievous even, you could change how you put the blocks together to make a different kind of spaceship.

And if you wanted to be even more creative, you could throw away the instructions and the picture, and use the bricks to make a galleon, or a dumper truck, or whatever you can conjure up from your own imagination.

And that’s how Improvisation works… You have your basic moves (your Lego bricks), and to start off with, it’s helpful to have a sequence of moves you can use with any basic 8 count music (your building blocks). You can drop these combinations of moves into any dance. Essentially, that’s how the Tribal dance style works – the tribe has a repertoire of combinations that they all know and recognise well enough that they can identify them as soon as the leader cues them. But Tribal dance doesn’t have the copyright on that idea – anyone can use it!

When you’re improvising, you can change how you put the blocks together, you can pull the blocks apart and rebuild them. So you could take the first part of the Flamingo combination above, and then instead of finishing it with the grapevine, you could finish it with the forward back step part of the Hip drop combination. Or with a three-step turn, or cross-steps, or a big hip circle… You can build the Millenium Falcon, but you can also build the Eiffel Tower!


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