Most students will want to make this harder than they should. The goal is to mirror the partner perfectly. I tell my students that if they are doing a good job, I will not be able to tell who is the leader and who is the "mirror." I coach them to use smooth, continuous movements, because abrupt movements almost always catch the "mirror" lagging. I coach them to look into each others' eyes, rather than at their hands, because this facitates more precise communication. I try to keep them from using their lower bodies until they have really mastered the arms-and-face mirroring.
I challenge my students to really focus on the process. I point out that it is the leader's job, as much as the "mirror's" to see that the exercise works. The leader does not try to trick his partner--on the contrary, he works very hard not to trick him. It is the leader's responsibilty to perform movements that the "mirror" can follow precisely. I remind the leaders that they should be looking right at their partners, because their partners must look at them, and therefore the only way the mirror illusion can be perfect is if the leader also looks at the partner. (If the leader looks away, and the "mirror" duplicates this movement, the "mirror" can no longer see the leader to mirror him.)
Once you've got all the students concentrating on mirroring, have them switch leaders a few times. At first, every time they switch leaders they'll have to start over, but they should reach the point where they can switch leaders in mid-stream, without interrupting the smooth folow of movement. If the group is older and advanced enough, see if they can switch leaders without communicating ahead of time. (When the "mirror" feels it is time to take over, he simply takes over, and the original leader is sensitive enough to perceive it and become the "mirror.")
Eventually this exercise can grow to involve the whole body, and even movement in space (locomotion), but be wary of beginning this too soon. I usually don't do it at all except with my older students. It is too difficult. I use the metaphor of model building. Some people buy the biggest, most elaborate model kit they can find, and take pleasure in building something really complicated. But others take their pleasure out of making a simpler model absolutely perfect in every detail. The second attitude is the one it is necessary to apply to mirrors if their full value is to be had.
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Begin with a circle just like in "Circle Mirror." Practice making very smooth, rhythmic movements. The best kind of movements for this game are ones that repeat in rhythm, and gradually change. (A true pattern won't work--it is essential that changes happen.) Once the group is good at this kind of movement, someone is chosen to be "it." That person then leaves the room or turns his back, and the teacher chooses someone in the circle to be the leader. The leader begins to move, and the rest of the class to mirror. "It" is invited back into the circle, and must try to guess who the leader is. The more perfect the mirroring, the more difficult this will be, until, theoretically, it becomes impossible. I usually give "it" three guesses before I declare the thing a draw. A new "it" is chosen and the game is repeated. As the game is played, I coach the leader as necessary to vary the movement, or to make it more smooth, or whatever, but always addressing him as "leader," and never looking at him.
I usually don't introduce stratetgy until we have played a few times. I like the students to come up with the strategies, rather than having them handed to them. But there are some basic strategies that make the game harder for "it" to win:
Don't all look at the leader. At first this seems like a contradiction, but the students eventually realize that as long as some people--probably the ones opposite the leader in the circle--are looking at the leader, the rest can look at those people. usually the best thing is for everyone to "mirror" someone opposite them in the circle. This means "it" cannot pick the leader by following everyone's eyes.Back to top.
Leader look at someone. The leader is the only person in the circle who is not compelled to look at someone else. If he allows his eyes to wander, "it" can easily pick him out this way.
Don't make noise. Any movement--such as clapping, snapping or slapping--that makes a sound will give the leader away, since he will probably be slightly ahead of everyone else.
Again, rather than telling my students these "rules" I coach them to figure them out for themselves.
Everyone stands in a circle. Everyone turns to the left (or right, as long as everyone turns the same way) so that they are looking at the back of the next person. One person is chosen to be the leader, and begins to make simple movements. (The leader must be careful not to bring his arms fully in front of him.) The person behind the leader mirrors him, but with a "delay" of about a second. The third person mirrors the second, again with a one-second delay, and so on around the circle. Eventually the leader will see his own movements recreated in the person in front of him--but delayed by many seconds. The effect for someone standing in the middle of the circle is of a "wave" of movement making its way around the circle. For the leader, the reward is seeing that movement come back to him.
I recommend that the teacher not participate in this exercise, but rather watch closely to make sure it is working. All it takes is one student not paying attention to put a stop to the "wave," and you need to be there to light a fire under any such students. You also might like to pull a few students out of the group at a time and let them watch from inside the circle, because it is so cool.
Variation 1: Once the canon is working in the circle, you can spread the people about the room randomly. Each person must remember who he is mirroring, and make sure he can see that person, but other than that they can be anywhere in the room. This is much more difficult, because there is usually at least one person closer than the one we're supposed to be mirroring, and we have to concentrate on the person we're supposed to mirror while ignoring the others. But when it works the students feel a great sense of acomplishment.
Variation 2: For advanced students. Find an actual musical canon--something simple!--and listen to it a few times. Two-part is probably best. Work in pairs. The leader imporvises movements in time with the music (the first part of the canon). The partner mirrors the movements in time with the second voice of the canon, so that music and movement work together.
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Students stand in a straight line, facing the back of the room. The teacher stands at the back of the line and taps the last person on the shoulder. That person turns around to face the teacher. The teacher performs a very simple series of hand movements. Only the last person in line can see this, because the rest of the class are facing the other way. Then that person taps the next person in line, and passes the movement on. Eventually the movement series makes its way all the way to the front of the line. Then the teacher shows the whole class what the original movement looked like, and everyone marvels at how much it has changed.
Often when I teach this activity, I use it as a jumping-off point to talk about the way that rumors and innuendo can get started. If even in a class in which everyone is doing his best to get things exactly right, an idea can change so much in transit, is it any wonder that half-truths and even utter falsehoods can arise from honest if catty gossip? The resulting discussions are often illuminating.
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Fun House Mirrors
Magnifying MirrorsBack to top.
Work in pairs. The leader tries to keep his movements "small," but the "mirror" makes all the movements "bigger." This is lots of fun, and calls for imagination, because it is not always obvious how to make a movement "bigger."
Like "Magnifying Mirrors," but in reverse.
Opposite, or Video Mirrors
The "mirror" does not reverse left and right. This allows for some very interesting effects, because unlike regular mirrors, it allows the partners to enter each other's space. In regular mirrors the partners can touch, but can go no further because the point of contact becomes the imaginary glass of the mirror. But in "Opposite Mirrors" the partners can even move around each other and change places.
Try out these variations, too!
Enlarging or Shrinking Emotion MirrorsBack to top.
Mirror the emotions of the leader, but make them "bigger" (If the leader is mildly put out, the "mirror" is furious.) or "smaller."
Opposite Emotion Mirrors
You figure it out.
Use Emotion Mirrors in a Scene
This is an interesting exercise to try with a cast who is having trouble connecting to a script. Run through a scene, but with all the actors "mirroring" one actor's emotions. Then try it again, "mirroring" a different actor. Interesting discoveries here!
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