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Spontaneity in the morning: Ny Mills High School starts an improv group

Connie Vandermay/FOCUS The improv group practices spontaneity through various activities. One was forming an elephant. After spinning in a circle for a count of 10, Jackie Imsande points to Charlie Peeters, who immediately forms the elephant's trunk. Sam Weber and Latham Hetland bend quickly to form the elephant's ears.

Ten students gathered last Friday morning in Heidi Dresser's room at New York Mills High School for their fourth practice as an improvisational team.

The newly-formed team is the first of its kind at the school.

"Improv is simply creative practice of spontaneous scenes," said Dresser. Each week, the students pick new exercises that help them, "develop quick thinking capabilities and foster teamwork."

Last Friday's exercise was similar to "The Dating Game," with one student trying to choose the best date by asking three contestants a series of questions. There was a slight twist, though - everything the kids said had to fit with their chosen character.

Senior Jackie Imsande, for example, was an "obsessed stalker." So when she was asked to describe her perfect date, she said, "We can just hang out in your room," and then went onto describe the bedroom in great detail, as if she were peering in from the street.

In an earlier scene, when the guys were the bachelors, Latham Hetland was supposed to be a freeloader, and made it quite obvious when most of his replies insisted that he wasn't going to pay for anything.

Charlie Peeters said there are benefits to being in the improv group. He said, "If you start out a Friday with creative thinking, it makes the rest of the day that much better."

The idea behind the group was Hetland's.

"We gave impromptu speeches and we thought, 'Oh those are so fun,'" Hetland said, adding with a shrug: "We are crazy."

Though the group has only been gathering for a month, they hope to take their improv show to the stage at the spring talent show.

Until then, the kids will continue to improve their improv skills, with a little spontaneity in the morning.