How to pick-up someone (literally!)

Finding creative solutions to business issues within a team setting can sometimes be challenging. In a business world where original ideas are rare, ways to find inspiration – when none seems available – is a critical skill. Managers are constantly asked to perform both creatively and strategically, as well as to collaboratively work in teams in order to instill change within their organizations. This workshop allowed HBS students to explore some of the theories of team building and creative thinking through dance-a method rarely considered in the context of business.

Martha Mason, Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Snappy Dance Theater, Boston’s most rapidly growing, internationally touring dance company, taught students how to build trust and stimulate creativity within a group. By discovering how to occupy the space around them through choreography, students were asked to create movements with their bodies and to use others as a source of creation and inspiration. Having performed, taught and choreographed internationally for the past 19 years, Martha brought her extensive experience in body expression to help students increase their ability to generate ideas, seek inspiration, and act spontaneously in a risk-free environment.

The workshop started with warm-up expression exercises, where each student was required to make an unexpected face and accompanying sound. This simple exercise helped make people feel comfortable within the group, breaking down barriers and facilitating communication. Through the subsequent simple improvisation exercises, students discovered how to establish trust and positive reinforcement between each other. With the “Lean and Leave” exercise, for example, where one person pretends to lean on another, students learned how to trust other members of the group at a more physical level, and to use this trust to stimulate creativity for the next movement. Students discovered how powerful non-verbal skills in communication can be-a skill that can be translated into the business setting through more effective interviewing, networking, or negotiating. Finally, students were asked to synthesize all of the skills they had learned and create an improvisational dance within a group. However, participants were required to communicate using only their bodies, rather than their voices…certainly an unconventional way for HBS students to communicate!

For more information on Snappy Dance Theater, visit Also, see Snappy’s performance of “String Beings,” a live, multimedia show running from Mai 30 to June 10 at The Virginia Wimberly Theater at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion (Boston Center for the Arts; 527 Tremont Street; Boston, MA).

April 30, 2007
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