Can be done as an individual or in a group
This is one of my favorite exercises because it can be done anywhere and I learn so much every time I do it. Just make sure you don’t get caught by the person you are following!
How it works
The idea is simple. Pick a person and try to imitate every movement of their body as precisely as possible. It works best walking down a crowded street or some other arena where it is less likely anyone will notice what you are doing. Then, every block, two blocks, minute, two minutes, or whatever you choose change people.
If you are doing this with someone who might see or who is looking at you don’t imitate exactly but try to capture they way they use their body. This actually will build a sense of connection and trust with that person. They will feel like you are really listening if you are subtle enough.
Try to get to the point where you can do this without staring straight at the person you are copying.
Take in their entire body. Train your mind to use your peripheral vision to pick as much detail as possible. This will help you in many ways on the stage.
Break down their movements. Methodically work through their body from their feet to their head. Start with trying to capture each element of one specific part of the body instead of trying to do it all every time. For example, with the feet notice if they point in or out, what part of their foot hits first when they walk and what part of the foot spends the most time on the ground, how much does their ankle move when they walk, how high to their feet get when taking a step forward, etc…
It is fine to caricature-ize the people you are imitating but ultimately, the goal is to be as accurate and complete as possible.
Approach this with an exploratory mindset. Study the people you are imitating with the intensity of the extremely curious.
Do it with a friend. Have them tell you how close or far you are from being accurate. Get them to video it so you can see for yourself. It can be difficult to know how well you are doing as you are doing it.
Don’t get caught. It can be awkward, dangerous, and rude. If you are caught, it might be wise to tell them you are doing it as part of a class exercise before they punch you in the face.
Be wise with who you chose and when. If it is likely that the person you are trying to imitate would see what you are doing and feel mocked or belittled then chose someone else. This is not a game of making fun of people. It should be fun but not at someone else’s expense.