“High level shape! Pointed shape! Upside-down shape! The shape of an egg! Of a letter L!” – Many have heard these directives called out in our classes. But why do we do these shapes? For one reason: to free the body to react impulsively, quickly, without time to think consciously, and to RESPOND! We want our bodies to have more say than our minds when we create, train, and perform. The innate body wisdom carries all of the memories of emotional events and actions and too carries the ancient evolutionary human/animal instincts which are intelligent and sophisticated. Allowing the body to come to the fore brings spontaneous, combustion-able energy to lead our actions and quiets the mind’s chatter that floats above the din of our environments. Giving ourselves over to body impulses aligns the mind/body unity which is otherwise a false Descartian split honoring mind and ignoring body. Current educational practices follow this split and many children struggle from this dissociation. Hence the attraction of theater work and the freeing exercises that honor whole bodymind system expression rather than isolating a mind response only. Children are whole until we split them with our cultural practices that teach right/wrong, good/bad, smart/dumb dualities that set them up to lose sight and experience of the whole, which in turn inhibits their freedom of expression and joy of discovery.
The cutting edge emerging paradigm of performing includes recent advances in cognitive science, epigenetics, and quantum theory. Although scholarly work has focused primarily on cognitive functions and the new understanding of how the brain/body connection works, I am certain that others will soon join me in bringing the principles of epigenetics and quantum theory into the mix. From this new interdisciplinary approach a whole new way of training performers and performing itself, will be transformed.
When we bathe our cells in fun, vibrant, heightened energy we give them a beautiful environment to do their work in. They respond by turning on processes that allow for further fun, vibrant, healthy interactions with our surroundings. Our actions stimulate our cells and the cells stimulate our actions in turn. This circular dynamic, when under our direct control through will and intention, can lead to ecstasy and deep joyful play. Ultimately our theater exercises strive for this condition to emerge in our work. We consciously use the knowledge that we can trigger our cells to turn on healthy genetic expression, adding to that the synergistic interrelatedness of our classmates and surroundings from our understanding of physics, and we work in ways that free our usual inhibitions so as to really CREATE – we become co-creators of our experience rather than be led along as if we have little say.
When we strike and “angry shape” or a “surprise shape” we are consciously directing our emotions from the body inward. Our body strikes the shape and as we dwell in the shape the feelings swell up and we generate emotional truth in our reality. We learn to control our emotions. We learn we can be happy or sad at will. We understand we do not need to bounce back and forth by others pushing our buttons- we control our buttons! What a relief!
Our minds play games, we easily deceive ourselves in ways we often do not even realize. But our bodies contain truth, right here, right now, in the moment. When we align the energy of the body with the whole brain, through brain moves (and they are moves because the brain is most affected by our moving), through intention, through grounding our frequencies, through active theater exercises such as these, we become more fully ourselves and we relate with a larger sense of our surroundings which allows for selflessness and sensitivity to others and all things in our environment. Our senses open up and we have much more potential, more choice, more options to affect one another and our space. Our cognitive ability grows stronger, our genetic expression is healthier, our unity with our world is physically rich and real. We are ready to perform!