Project Archive and Educational Resource


Student Area


Home | About | Science | Dance | Film | Development | Credits | Contact Us

Working With Dance


Basal Tears
Reflex Tears
Emotional Tears



[Image: Ruth Williams, photographed by Judie Waldmann]


What Are Emotional Tears?

'Emotional tears' are tears stimulated by our emotions and triggered by activity in the brain.

Examples of emotions that might trigger tears are:







When we feel sad for example, the brain sends a message to the eye to tell it to produce tears.

The brain sends this message via our central nervous system.

When the eye receives the message it produces 'emotional tears'.



Things for You to Discuss with Your Group:

Before you begin working with emotional tears and dance make sure you discuss the following in your group

  • All of us are different and this can mean we all respond to emotions differently.
  • Remember to respect each others differences.
  • If you find something difficult let your teacher know.
  • Work together as a team to make sure you all feel safe in exploring your emotions.
  • Sometimes reading another persons emotions can be difficult, so it is best to understand that this is something we all find difficult.


Developing your own choreographic ideas      


  • Walk in the space in different directions, when one person chooses to stop, all stop, when one person moves again, all move. This gets you being aware of each other.


  • Now repeat the exercise but stopping in a pose which expresses different emotions; sadness, happiness, anger, love. You may come up with ideas of different emotions.


  • Look at the different shapes of the poses that express different emotions and discuss.



  • Divide your group into two, A and B


  • Group B repeat the exercise of walking and stopping in different emotional poses.


  • Group A explore different ways of responding to one of the Group B’s poses.

For example, if one person is in a sad pose, you may want to respond by using a comforting pose, or you may show your anxiety in not knowing what to do by using a turning away pose.

For example, if one person is in a happy pose, you may strike a happy, or laughing pose by them.

Swap roles so that you take it in turns to be the group that poses and the group that responds.

Take some time to discuss how and why we might respond to each other differently.



Develop this idea of exploring sadness and responses to sadness by working in partners.

Have a look at the film, Sadness Duet, below, where Ruth Williams is working with Vanessa Cook and exploring different responses to sadness.

Sadness Duet

Format: colour stereo video
Duration: 2:53 minutes


Now you can try this. If you are someone who is anxious about having someone too physically close to you, then speak out. 

You can then develop your dance, respecting this anxiety by keeping a small distance from each other.

The idea

  • Walking within a small area 
  • Stop and draw a tear drop running down the face
  • The body starts to slump, and perhaps tremble from sadness
  • You can choose to respond to your partner in comfort
  • Or you can choose to respond by turning away
  • Or sometimes you may choose not to respond to each other
  • You can explore both comfort and turning away as you walk, pause and you draw a tear drop.


Creating Choreography from Different Emotions

1. In your group stand in a circle.

2. Choose one emotion e.g. frustration.

3. Go around the circle and ask each person to make a movement that represents frustration, it can be a big or small movement.

4. Copy each person’s movement.

5. Try the same exercises but with a different emotion.

6. Let the teacher choose some of the emotional movements and place them together, in a sequence, so you can see how this idea works.

7. As a group try this sequence out.

8. Get the group to decide/direct on the speed, the dynamic of each movement.

9. Get the group to direct a new sequence from chosen group emotion movement


The word 'sequence' means to put movements together. You may think of creating a sequence in dance, as like putting words together to create a sentence in speech.

It can be difficult to remember the movements, so giving each movement a name, or talking through the sequence as you learn can help.

From the above you will have a great deal of movements to play with, and to explore choreography. Explore how you move from one movement to another movement.

When we work with emotional movements-focus on how you move from one emotional movement to another, so that each emotion is clear.

So, for example really explore the contrasts between different emotions such as happy and sad. Look at and discuss the different shapes the body makes when creating these different emotions through dance.

Explore using different types of music with your dance sequences. When you feel confident, try putting the different dance sequences together.


Laughing and Crying

Format: colour silent video
Duration: 1:56 minutes

Watch this silent film by Andrew Wint of Sara Hockell and then try the idea out for your selves


An Idea for You to Explore:

1. Stand in a line against a wall, explore laughing out loud, and see what happens to the body

2. Now try laughing in your line, again but without sound, silently.

3. As a group, laugh silently and see what happens when a change in your thinking, makes you sad

4. Explore the change between going from silent laughing to silent sadness. Let your body tell the story and don’t rush this change



Laughter and Sadness

Format: colour stereo video
Duration: 6:00 minutes

In this film you will see, in the second part, the idea of the group line of laughter and sadness. 

Try this idea again, paying attention to each other when the emotion changes from laughter into crying, silently.

You will also see from this film, how you might put different ideas together to build your dance work.





Key Words List

Here are some new words for you to learn:

















Home | About | Science | Dance | Film | Development | Credits | Contact Us

Copyright © Project Volume 2011. Text and media may not be used without written permission | Website design by Riccardo Iacono