They say that copying is the best form of flattery and in our day to day lives we tend to do it without realising when we are feeling comfortable around people. They always say that the best form of improv is when you speak truth to reality, so the form of copying body language is actually an important thing to incoporate into your shows as it reflects what we do as humans.
When you are taught improv, there gets to a point where you are introduced to mirroring another person on stage or in a group so that you are all doing the same simple movements. It is a style that is used a lot in musical improv to create a style of dance to a song and to create ambiance but at times it can be forgotten in your everyday improv.
First of all lets talk about warm ups you can do – one of the most popular exercises you get taught in improv is to have the whole group follow one person. In this exercise you have a sort of leader at the side of each room and whenever the group end up facing that wall you copy the dance movements or actions of the person that is in charge. Another popular exercise is to be in pairs and act as a mirror. Noone is in charge, instead you naturally follow each others movements.
There are many more exercises that I am sure if you look online you will be able to find them by the Improv Gurus but I wanted to mention a couple to raise an important observation.
I don’t tend to see copying a lot in normal long form or short form shows – it does happen but not that much. The times I have seen it, the movements or mirroring it has created subtle humour or some of the funniest part of the show. Whether it’s used to create comedy, annoyance or attractive towards another, copying body language is a really powerful part of improv and try and remember that the next time you do a scene.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio