Risk, Laban, and Purposeful Movement

Dab. Flick. Slash. When I decided to walk away from acting, who knew my sophomore Laban Movement Analysis project would come back to haunt enlighten me. I honestly agreed to this project before even reading the script because I knew what a great team I would have the pleasure of working with if I agreed. It’s been an enlightening adventure from day one. Before I even considered acting, I danced, so it’s been a real joy to have such a physical and collaborative rehearsal process. This play really pushes me to new places I have had yet to explore. 

As a society, we have shifted our daily lives in such a way that we’ve been disconnected from movement and how our bodies can inform our current state or vice versa. With long hours commuting on trains or in cars heading to longer days at sedentary jobs, we are no longer giving ourselves the freedom to explore and enjoy our physical self as more than just weight loss and physical health machines. This project has forced me to reconnect with my physical self and remind myself that my body can be just as strong and influential in life as my mind. 

What I missed in the Laban project as a college sophomore was the way movement truly transforms your experience of the world and the way the world experiences you. There was a day in rehearsal when Alli went through the different qualities of movement that can be explored and how they interact with each other to create stylistic movement according to Rudolf Laban. As a petite woman from the Midwest, who was raised surrounded by strong women, I carry myself through the world in an entirely different manner than the little boy of Project: Project’s Shiver. I learned on this day in rehearsal, however, that certain movement qualities have vastly different effects on people depending on their life experience up to this point. My question was why? How can such clearly set guidelines for movement – direct, sudden, and heavy – have such unique meaning to each person when put into practice? That, I think, is an element of what is being explored in the big picture of this production. Without giving too much away, in Shiver, the boy doesn’t feel fear or anxiety, and Charlotte, perhaps feels too much. But, when giving words to the movement qualities of these characters, are they so different? Can having too much of something be the same as not knowing that thing at all? 

Movement workshop in August 2014

Movement workshop in August 2014

We’ve taken risks in this rehearsal process as we explore what it means to walk through life with fear and anxiety. It’s been thrilling to play with all of the shadow scenes as we discover what our bodies are truly capable of creating. It’s great to finally have my Jasmine on a flying carpet moment. There have been some great questions and puzzles to solve in this process, and I have found great joy in answering them with our bodies and their expansive capabilities. 

So, the next time you have to rush to a meeting, don’t chastise yourself for running from the train station to beat the clock, stop and reset your movement meter before entering the room. It’s incredible the way our moods and entire days shift when we take a moment to realign our physical self by preparing to move through the world in a purposeful way.