Essential Videos on Movement

This weeks video resources focus on movement. Here is a selection of video content from around the web. There is the full spectrum here, from abstract dance to more naturalistic theatre. Some are training masterclasses and some are performances. I hope each can serve as an inspiration for your own creativity.

PLEASE NOTE: Not all movement exercises are suitable for everyone and this or any other movement exercise may result in injury. To reduce the risk of injury, never force or strain, use the exercises only as intended and demonstrated, and follow all instructions carefully.

A Eurhythmics introduction and demonstration with Lisa Parker, director of the Dalcroze Eurhythmics program at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA. Lisa discusses Eurhythmics, its goals and benefits through a lesson on measure shape.

In the 1990’s, after the opening of archives in the former Soviet Union, an original source of Biomechanics became known. Nikolai Kustow, the Biomechanics instructor in Meyerhold’s Theater, maintained a “hidden” school and secretly passed on principles and etudes to a new generation of actors. In this video, Russian actor and pedagogue, Gennadi Bogdanov is shown presenting the most important etudes and principles of Biomechanics. In addition to historical film and photodocumentation of Biomechanics, the video also displays recent scenic work from Europe and the USA developed from the basis of Meyerhold’s Biomechanics. In English, 43 mins, colour & Black & white.

Gennadi Bogdanov demonstrates a Biomechanics study created by Meyerhold. Then he applies the work to a study of Lucky’s monologue in Waiting for Godot.

The study of Meyerhold’s ‘Throwing the Stone’. This video shows a demonstration of Meyerhold’s study by Ralf Réuker, student of Gennadi Bogdanov, and analyzed by Eugenio Barba. It was taken during a series of lectures organized in 1997 by the Center for Performance Research in Aberystwyth, Wales. During the demonstration Barba sometimes addresses the audience and in Ralph, the student of Biomechanics.

Revolutionary dancer and choreographer Mary Wigman introduces some of her work.

Martha Graham discusses her craft in A Dancer’s World.

Choreographer Merce Cunningham took chances. Over a seven decade career, his explorations reshaped dance into a new kind of art form, deeply influencing visual art, film, and music along the way. Through experimental collaborations with John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Marcel Duchamp, and others, he became the 20th century’s most influential choreographer. In conjunction with the exhibition Merce Cunningham: Common Time, we look at the many sides of Cunningham: dance maker, collaborator, chance-taker, innovator, film producer, and teacher.

In the spring of 1981, during a residency at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, choreographer Merce Cunningham and composer John Cage sat down to discuss their work and artistic process. As frequent collaborators, Cage and Cunningham pioneered a new framework of performance. Their novel approach allowed for mediums to exist independently, or rather cohabitate, within a performance, thus abandoning the co-dependent model of dance and music. Cage and Cunningham go on to discuss the methodology and motivations behind chance operations, a term used to describe artistic decisions based on unpredictability. Wanting to free himself of his likes and dislikes, Cage describes how Zen Buddhism influenced his work, leading him to use tools of chance. These new methods, adopted by both Cunningham and Cage, overturned a whole foundation of thought around music, movement, and the process of creating art.

Taken from a television special called The Body Speaks, Ryszard Cieslak of Grotowski’s Laboratory briefly speaking and then presenting some exercises in the Plastiques and Corporals with two Danish students.

We all use our body on a daily basis, and yet few of us think about our physicality the way Wayne McGregor does. He demonstrates how a choreographer communicates ideas to an audience, working with two dancers to build phrases of dance, live and unscripted, on the TEDGlobal stage.

Wayne McGregor is well known for his physically testing choreography and ground-breaking collaborations across dance, film, music, visual art, technology and science. In 2000, he and his company Wayne McGregor | Random Dance embarked on a series of projects investigating aspects of creativity in dance with researchers from other fields such as cognitive and social science.

A series of systems developed for choreographers to engage more fully the imaginations of performers tasked with generating new movement material.

Spring Dance 2011 hosted the world premiere of DV8’s newest work Can We Talk About This? The performance deals with freedom of speech, censorship and Islam using real life interviews and archive footage to examine influences on multicultural policies, press freedom and artistic censorship. Australian Lloyd Newson conceived and directed the work and founded DV8 in 1986.

The clip starts at a monologue with hand choreography that is particularly interesting.

Masterclass with Akram Khan including interviews

Follow Akram Khan for a day

Clip from Zero Degrees – ‘zero degrees is the reference point where everything begins…and everything ends’. Akram Khan

zero degrees, Akram Khan Company from Akram Khan Company on Vimeo.

In order to help students and teachers who wish to use Hofesh’s work as a stimulus to perform a solo in the style of a specified practitioner, Hofesh and the company offer this short film resource and accompanying study notes which can be downloaded here: http://hofesh-media.s3-eu-west-1.amaz… In this resource Hofesh shares an extract from his 2010 work Political Mother, which he feels best encapsulates his movement style. This extract is danced by company member Chien-Ming Chang (known to us all as Ming) who was an original cast member of Political Mother.

Maze is an immersive new performance presented by Jasmin Vardimon Company and Turner Contemporary, choreographed by critically-acclaimed director Jasmin Vardimon, in collaboration with Ron Arad and artist Guy Bar-Amotz. This film gives an incredible insight into Jasmin’s creation process for both the structure and the performance. It provides a deeper look at the working methods of her company, and how they’ve been adapted to the unique new environment, and exploring some of the motivations and challenges encountered.

Jasmin Vardimon Company Repertoire

Gecko has fantastic video resources with many of their full shows available here. I have chosen The Time of Your Life that was developed specifically as a piece of filmed theatre. It is a great introduction to their work.

Vanessa Ewan leads this movement direction masterclass, guiding an actor playing Nora from A Doll’s House using techniques to explore physicality and enhance character transformation.

Ever wondered what a Movement Director does? In this short film we hear from Movement Directors Joseph Alford, Kate Flatt, Imogen Knight and Diane Alison-Mitchell explaining their role in a production, the key differences between movement direction and choreography and how movement develops its own theatrical language in performance.


Artaud’s Ideas Today: Cinema and Dance

Connections to the GCSE, AS and A level specifications

  • Theatrical style
  • Artistic intentions
  • Innovations
  • Influence
  • The relationship between actor and audience in theory and practice

PC: Is there any other source of material that people could look as work inspired by Artaud?

RM: I think where his ideas about theatre are being used a lot more is in cinema now. These films that seek to appeal to the body in various different ways.

PC: What examples are there of his theatre ideas being used in cinema?

RM: Gaspar Noé and Claire Denis. There is a book written by Martine Beugnet called Cinema and Sensation. She also writes about Artaud. A lot of the films that have been labelled ‘New French Extremism’; I think that is a term that has been invented by an English journalist. There are these films in France that are very much about bodily change: transformation and the limits of the body being threatened. In film theory, there is renewed interest in describing the personal experience (phenomenology) of watching a film where your individual subjectivity is being challenged or disrupted in some sought of way.

PC: I like the films of Michael Haneke. I don’t know if there is a connection, his films seems to use verfremdung, but that is a kind of disruption. I suppose Brecht was disrupting how content was perceived whereas Artaud and to a certain extent Haneke emphasize the disruption of experience. In that moment of watching your senses are disrupted, life is disrupted, it is unavoidable. The images of violence and bodies particularly seem to recur in Haneke’s films.

RM: Also the way that Haneke explores time: the temporality of spectatorship. The physical effect that the audience experiences is actually to do with waiting and waiting and you are really made to experience that feeling of time.

PC: An example of that is in Caché (Hidden) where the father kills himself in the kitchen, it happens so suddenly compared to more mainstream, ‘Hollywood’ editing. It just happens and you are left with the image of the dead body. You are left with it for a long time.

RM: And Funny Games. You don’t actually see any of the violence but it is made worse because you are just waiting. Also Seventh Continent where the whole family decide to commit suicide and at the end they are all dying and it takes ages and ages and ages and there is a pop video on TV.

PC: Time is absolutely key. I think that is something else for students to focus on in their practical explorations influenced by Artaud: time.

RM: And also the focus on gesture in this kind of cinema as well. The way that theatre is really influencing cinema now is through this question of gesture. The way in which people are looking at gesture as a philosophical concept in the cinema, which is something that comes from the theatre.

PC: Do you mean gesture as an act of moving the body: the hands?

RM: Yes in a very, very simple kind of way. Particularly these kind of films that I see as being ‘Artaudian’. They draw attention to bodily gestures that would be ignored in cinema normally. Unexpected movements that don’t really have anything to do with the narrative, moments where the body is brought into relief through its movement rather than its position in the narrative.

PC: When did Artaud develop his ideas about cinema?

RM: Well Artaud went in the opposite direction to most people: he started with the cinema and then went back into the theatre. In most of his work, he’ll start with a particular medium then he’ll get annoyed with it and abandon it. He started with cinema and then he got really frustrated with it. He decided that theatre was potentially much more revolutionary than cinema. He felt he could actually do more with theatre than you could with cinema. Eisenstein, for example, went from theatre to cinema.

PC: Are there any other contemporary examples of work that challenges the idea of representation and focuses on the body? Not necessarily explicitly connected with Artaud. But is there any work out there that has got your attention because it explores the disruption of representation and language?

RM: I find the films of Chantal Akerman really interesting. Her work uses gesture both in terms of the gestures of filming: the way that something is filmed; and the way the body appears on the screen. There is also an experimental filmmaker who made a whole series of films about the Tarahumaras. So that is an obvious Artaud connection.

PC: Do you see much of Artaud’s influence in dance? Everything we have discussed about time, the body and ritual seems to be central to the work of Pina Bausch and Hofesh Schechter.

RM: Yes and people like Merce Cunningham. For very different reasons Yvonne Rainer: she is all about language. She is about a lot of things Artaud is not about. The Theatre and its Double was a huge influence on Black Mountain College where John Cage, Nancy Spero and Merce Cunningham were. Lucy Bradnock is working on the mistranslation of Artaud in the 1950s at Black Mountain College and how that created the 1960s vision of Artaud in America which was then exported elsewhere – she wrote an article called ‘White Noise at Black Mountain’


  • Artaud’s ideas about theatre are being used a lot more is in cinema now.
  • The physical effect that the audience experiences is actually to do with waiting and waiting and you are really made to experience that feeling of time.
  • Filmmakers are looking at gesture as a philosophical concept in cinema, which is something that comes from the theatre.
  • Artaud started in cinema but he decided that theatre was potentially much more revolutionary.
  • The Theatre and its Double was a huge influence on Black Mountain College where John Cage, Nancy Spero and Merce Cunningham were.