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.


Kneehigh’s Growth: Intriguing Methodologies and National Attention

This is the first in a series of interviews about the history of Kneehigh with Dr Duška Radosavljevic. The interviews provide an introduction to the company and an academic’s outside eye on Kneehigh as a devising ensemble.

Do use the Kneehigh Cookbook and their Vimeo site for more free online digital resources from the company. In addition there is a fifteen minute audio clip of Emma Rice ‘On Directing’ that I believe captures the spirit of how Kneehigh currently work.

Dr Duška Radosavljevic is a Reader in Contemporary Theatre and Performance at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Her research interests include contemporary British and European theatre practice as well as more specifically, ensemble theatre and dramaturgy.

Duška has worked as the Dramaturg at the Northern Stage Ensemble, an education practitioner at the Royal Shakespeare Company. As a dramaturg, she has worked with various local, national and international theatre artists and organisations including New Writing North, Dance City, Dramaturgs’ Network, National Student Drama Festival, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Circomedia. In 2015 she was the dramaturg on Robert Icke’s Oresteia at the Almeida. Between 1998 and 2010, Duška was a member of The Stage Awards for Acting Excellence panel of judges at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and has written hundreds of theatre and dance reviews for the Stage Newspaper. She also writes for Exeunt.

Duška’s academic publications include award-winning Theatre-Making (Palgrave 2013), The Contemporary Ensemble (Routledge 2013), Theatre Criticism: Changing Landscapes (Bloomsbury Methuen 2016) as well as many chapters in various collections including one on Kneehigh in Liz Tomlin’s British Theatre Companies: 1995-2014 (Bloomsbury Methuen 2015).

PC: How did you come to study and write about Kneehigh’s work?

DR: I am interested in how ensembles work so I wanted to know about the principles of Kneehigh’s working process. I became really curious about the company, what shaped their work and what shaped their methodology. I felt their work was innovative, not necessarily experimental in an avant-garde sense of the word, but it was motivated by wanting to move forward in some way. I admire that.

PC: What was your first encounter with a Kneehigh show?

DR: I had seen Emma Rice’s Red Shoes in Edinburgh in 2000, that was my first contact with the company. I thought it was an interesting piece of theatre which I was glad I saw. It was unusual, distinctive and memorable.

PC: Did you start seeing more of their work then?

DR: Yes, it just so happened that I saw their next couple of pieces, like Cry Wolf, which they did with a band called the Baghdaddies who played Balkan music. They were basically a street band in Newcastle that they somehow discovered and put in the show. They then did Pandora’s Box with Northern Stage: a company I worked for. My colleague Neil Murray, who was an associate director at Northern Stage also collaborated with Emma Rice a number of times as her designer on other projects later. Pandora’s Box had members of both companies, both ensembles in it.

PC: Was there a particular show that prompted your academic interest?

DR: It was after watching Cymbeline at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works Festival in 2006 that I really wanted to find out more. This was a year-long festival, the idea of which was that it was going to showcase all of the works of Shakespeare. Some were RSC productions but a lot of them were guest productions by other companies from all around the world. They were also showcasing ready-made work, sometimes work already commissioned. In the case of Kneehigh, Cymbeline was commissioned by the RSC because its fairy-tale origins were seen to fit Kneehigh’s style. Cymbeline’s convoluted plot meant it was a play that was rarely staged and a bit inaccessible so maybe it was felt it would benefit from Kneehigh’s intervention. Additionally, Kneehigh hadn’t done any Shakespeare before so this was a good opportunity.

PC: Why was that show particularly important?

DR: I had spent a year working in the RSC Education Department just at the time when the Complete Works Festival was happening. In the context of the Complete Works Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon the piece had real significance both locally and nationally because it was not what a lot of people would consider to be Shakespeare. It only had a handful of lines from the original script in it. It was an adaptation, it angered some mainstream newspaper critics and it polarised audiences. There were audiences who stomped out and demanded their money back and there were audiences who stayed to the end and gave it a standing ovation. There was no indifferent reaction to it. This was definitely a highlight of the festival. From that point on Cymbeline went off on a national tour. This was a significant moment for Kneehigh as a company moving from local to national importance. The debate it sparked off triggered my interest from an academic point of view. So for example in that Cymbeline there was an interesting use of a singer: Dominic Lawton. He was a rap artist and mostly his function was commenting on the actions through his rapping. However, he also became integrated into the fabric of the piece dramaturgically because he then turned out to be one of the lost children in the piece. That was quite intriguing to me as someone interested in dramaturgy.

PC: What do you mean by dramaturgy?

DR: I mean theatre-making principles and methodologies. I was interested in the company’s methodology of making and telling stories. They did not seem typical of what you would find in the British theatre. They had developed their own stage and scenic vocabulary as well as their own way of working that I was particularly interested in somehow articulating or pinning down in my scholarly work.

PC: Were there any other significant moments that got Kneehigh national attention?

DR: They have had various moments where they have come out of Cornwall and into London since 1980 when they were founded. Sam Mendes brought them over to the Donmar Warehouse in 1996 with King of Prussia, a collaboration with Carl Grose. Richard Eyre noticed them and got them doing a co-production with the National Theatre – Nick Darke’s The Riot.

PC: Do you think Kneehigh’s success has changed them?

DR: I don’t think that they were fundamentally changed by success, though they welcomed it of course. I guess that having worked so hard for years and years they must’ve felt in some way gratified to get to a point when they were getting national recognition. However, what is significant is that I don’t think that success changed their core values in any way. Even though outwardly it might seem as though they are more successful and more worldly wise – the work might have started to look more fancy – but when you go to Cornwall to see the work at the Asylum, it still operates on the same principles. Regardless of their national and international success, their process remained constant; they didn’t forget their roots.

PC: How do they ensure they continue to connect with their roots?

DR: The first thing that people who have worked with Kneehigh remember about the experience is working in the barns and the local landscape. It’s very much in the narrative when they talk about their work. When people talk about working with them they remember the work being part of the landscape: they remember running in the woods and running by the sea. The barns have become very much a part of Kneehigh’s identity. They are a reminder of the core values of the company and their core values are posted on the walls of the barns where they rehearse.

Complicite: Simon McBurney’s Approach to Theatre

Interview with Michael Fry

Michael Fry is the Deputy Director of East 15, University of Essex. He has worked as director and writer across the country including Liverpool Everyman, Nottingham Playhouse, the Young Vic and the Lyric Hammersmith. His adaptations of Tess of the d’UrbervillesEmma and The Great Gatsby have been performed throughout England and America.

Prior to East 15, he was Senior Lecturer in theatre at Coventry University and was Co-Artistic Director of NOT The National Theatre, for whom he directed Simon Gray’s Japes and April de Angelis’ Wild East.

Michael Fry’s chapter on Complicite in British Theatre Companies (1980 – 1994) focuses on the first fifteen years of the company.

Connections to the GCSE, AS and A level specifications

  • Significant moments in the development of theory and practice
  • Methods of creating, developing, rehearsing and performing
  • Theatrical style
  • Influence
  • Key collaborations with other artists

PC: After that season Simon took sole charge and has been creating and developing work ever since. I know we are focussing on the first half of their career but briefly how has Simon approached work since then? He finds something that interests him, it is researched. Then what?

MF: He plays games with the company and sees what works. There is an interesting documentary on Streets of Crocodiles: everybody is in a complete panic because it is three days to go and the show is not at all ready or in any fixed shape. The National is panicking and the other actors are panicking. Simon even shows a little bit of panic and yet it was one of their biggest triumphs. A week later, there it was, astonishing and experimental. I think he needs to work like that. Simon is going to work you for 24 hours in the last week in order to get it ready because that is how he likes to work. He obviously needs that kind of pressure. So initially it is all relaxed and gamey and suddenly it becomes very tense and pressured.

PC: And in that pressure cooker moment of three days to go, what strategies does he use to bring it together?

MF: By drilling: “Go there. Do that. Do less of that. Move that. Bring that light on there.”

PC: There seems to be interesting parallels between Simon’s approach and Joan Littlewoods’ in terms of the mixture of improvisation, games and drilling.

MF: Joan Littlewood was exactly like Simon, it is one of the reasons he seems to revere her. She worked in exactly the same way. Again the idea was that everybody was contributing, it was democratic. But really it wasn’t, it was her driving everything. Again everything came together in the last very tense week. There are serious comparisons. She was iconic and idiosyncratic. He is not as rude and he is cannier and savvier about how to get money but Complicite have always have great producers and administrators. Joan Littlewood didn’t. She had Gerry Raffles who was brilliant in his own way but she was the one driving it. Simon has Judith Dimant as the producer who does all the administration and business side of things.

PC: How can your students at East 15 and younger students of theatre learn from Simon? Could they use his approach as a model?

MF: I don’t think they can. It is so much about him: his personality; his intellect; his imagination and his quirkiness. Complicite could not have happened without Simon. His working methods or his approach can’t be emulated.

PC: If you were encouraging students with that in mind, would you encourage them in terms of finding their own interests and creating their own work?

MF: Finding their own way of approaching theatre and theatricality. We’ll stay away from words like plays and texts. Finding their own ways of responding to subject matter with physicality and theatricality.

PC: Which brings us back to Jacques Lecoq and his approach, such a variety of different artists have come out of that: Steven Berkoff, Ariane Mnouchkine, Julie Taymor.

MF: Yes. None of them are Simon McBurney clones.


  • Initially the devising process is relaxed and gamey and suddenly it becomes very tense and pressured. Simon needs to work with that pressure.
  • Joan Littlewood was exactly like Simon, it is one of the reasons he seems to revere her.
  • The producer, Judith Dimant, is a key part of Complicite and is central to their process and work.
  • Simon’s working methods or his approach can’t be emulated. It is so much about him: his personality; his intellect; his imagination and his quirkiness.

Complicite: A Selection the Video Resources Available

A series interviews about the early years of Complicite with Dr Michael Fry (Deputy Director of East 15) will be published throughout this week.

Before we begin here is a selection of videos of Simon McBurney discussing the company and theatre in general that will compliment the more historical focus of the interview with Michael Fry:

Simon’s thoughts on theatre (2015):

“The intensity of the moment of theatre in the present is about living. Living here and now.”

Interview with Simon by Andrew Dickson (2010) that covers Complicite’s productions:

“Each piece is made according to the subject matter.”

Complicite at 30: Simon McBurney and Judith Dimant in Converstion at the National Theatre (2014)

“The key thing is: what are the stories that you are telling?”

Dr Michael Fry’s chapter on Complicite in British Theatre Companies (1980 – 1994) focuses on the first fifteen years of the company.