Studio Play

This week, I began to research what the ‘potential for movement’ means within the context of theatre and the various forms it can take. After finding one example in Pina Bausch with The Fall Dance, I decided to play with the same idea. I created one simple arm task that involved moments of stillness that ‘fell’ into each movement.

Here is the original task:

(Sorry this URL will not allow you to view it on this site, just copy and paste to watch it on Vimeo)

I realised that breathe and pace played a large role in how the sequence would come across. Naturally I did not think about these two elements when creating the phrase and did what came instantly to me. The breathe fuels the movement, and can set a tone for the rest of the sequence. Incidentally it is the pace that created the breathe pattern in the first place. If the movements were performed any faster or slower, how I breathe would change drastically, which in turn affects my demeanour.

This version is done by taking out all of the pauses in the sequence, to see whether these ‘potential for movement’ moments were imperative to the overall context.

It was interesting to note that as I removed the pauses the sequence became faster and faster. Those moments of stillness I realised kept the pace, and also the detail of each movement. It gave a particular dynamic, and suddenly the sequence became something that was completely different to what I had created.

This next version is done while holding my breath. I wanted to see what would happen if I were to take an important aspect out of moving. Would the suspense of anticipating the next move be lost? Or would adding a layer of suspense by holding my breathe give a different connotation to the phrase?

After having Jessi film these sequences, she later expressed that she naturally held her breath when watching that previous version. A relaxation in the body is discarded when the most important function of the human body is taken away. And this I think can make people feel uncomfortable, it is something so understandable the concept of holding your breath and the fear of not being able to catch the next one. The sequence once again took on certain characteristics when I was not actively thinking of controlling them. Particularly the pace once again, now that a certain urgency affected the sequence, each movement was faster than the next to finish the exercise as quickly as possible.

The last version, I played with the pace of the initial movement out of the stillness. Usually when beginning a fall the first move is slower and like a roller coaster it speeds up as gravity takes the lead. Here I did the opposite and sped up the first movement before finishing off with a slower pace.

I found this sequence the most interesting to watch, possibly because when watching back I did not expect to see that dynamic, and its pleasantly surprising to watch. When a fast movement comes first, you naturally expect to see a ‘fast’ sequence to follow. My mind had more to say when thinking about subtext and what the sequence could mean.

I am glad I completed this task, as simple as it was, it allowed me to break down movement in a different way and analyse a sequence from the point of how it can effect someone when viewing it. As opposed to how it feels and whether it looks good. In its simplicity I could break down ‘dance’ moves and apply them into a ‘movement’ context allowing me to strip back habitual habits and create what is needed for the task, instead of creating what I know. However there are still simple elements of creating movement that I did not think to dissect until  watching them back on the video. Pace and breathe particularly are so important and I think are assumptions we make in the rehearsal space. Without looking at the nature of a movement, those two elements can dictate how an audience perceives the sequence.





4 thoughts on “Studio Play

  1. Really liked this post as you can so clearly see your thought process through each video and the accompanying notes. Like Jessi, I also held my breath on that video! I would imagine that this breaking down of movement and what you see will be really beneficial to your directing. Maybe another thing to try would be to have a scene and do a similar process with that, with you as the director? Perhaps a scene that is more sedentary as well so you have the experience of the lack of movement?


    1. Thanks Charlotte, that is a great idea to play with the same idea but use text. It is something that daunts me a little more, however I would love to give it a go and see whether that potential moment is only reliant on movement, or whether it can work with spoken word.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really really loved this. A very clear breakdown of what you did step by step, thanks for adding the videos too. The last one is indeed wonderful!! Amazing what breaking habits and expectations can do. I was also interested by the kind of ‘vicious circle’ you describe of the mutual influence that pace and breath can have on each other. If the pace speeds up, breath speeds up, which makes the pace speed up more again. Right?

    I would love to do this exercise once, as I am not sure exactly what the basis of it is. I know the Pina Bausch Fall Dance, but how exactly did that inform this exercise, and how is it related to the potential for movement exactly again?


  3. The potential for movement I was exploring was the still moment before an action which I first found in The Fall Dance. I see the moment the women stops before she falls as the most exciting element, as is the moment before a kiss or a slap in the face in any story. Its always the suspense before action that allows the imagination to run free that holds people on the edge of their seats.
    This task in the studio was a very simplified version that I think presented other thoughts I had not considered more so than the ‘potential for movement’ idea. It is a very abstract concept that can easily slip through my fingers, however when you see it happen it is definitely effective. I would definitely recommend trying the task out, and allowing time to play with a set of movements to see where they lead you.


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