Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

Embodiment, Movement & Mindfulness Part 1

“For real human beings, the only realism is an embodied realism.”
― George Lakoff

Embodiment? That word….. a word that is flown around, especially where I work… If I am completely honest, until this project i really just didn’t get it. I had become disconnected with myself. However I was never someone who just threw the idea off… I wanted to understand what it meant, and really what it felt like.. I had lost the meaning of the word.

In a concrete representation of this word, some may say that life and its concept is represented by a circle. That is physical, that can be drawn shown and seen… this is what comes up when you google it off dictionary.com but then there is the other embodiment.

That other embodiment …..

What is ’embodiment’ when we consider it within an abstract context?

How does it feed the soul? That human experience that feeds some state of your own consciousness? Surely the incarnation of an experience will somehow attribute, to the embodiment of the human experience and surely would make us more human and for a happier and healthier society?

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In order to to be fully embodied for an actor, there has to be a level of mindfulness in performance.  And in order for that actor to be embodied, the process an actor would go through is vast, and then they would approach a particular or series of method.  It may be done in through varying types of practice such as Meditation, Yoga and Martial Arts.

“Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.” ~Sylvia Boorstein

Many of the methods and process that Tiina & Mikko are psychophysical in practices and body within theatre. Cis.Rit.Edu , 2017, describe psychophysical as the scientific study of the stimuli (which is a physical term) and the perceptions and sensations that are evoked by this stimuli.

Dr Mikko is a practitioner of Asahi Health  which is a combination of the basis of  Eastern health practices such as Tai-Chi, but movements are based on Western medicine and physical education. One of the basic goals was to enhance peoples mobility & health. The programme was developed by a group of professional in fitness and martial arts, their names respectively are; Ilpo Jalamo, Timo Klemola, Keijo Mikkonen and Yrjö Mähönen . The approaches developed were to enhance and promote positive effects, on overall well being for those who practice it.

Insight into Asahi Health

Asahi into Practice

It was this motion, method and practice that Mikko would be leading us through in that session.  It would focus on the movement of the body. A moment when we would centre ourselves, try to connect the mind with the body. Being mindful of the breathing, weight positioning, posture, the movements and the sensory experiences we felt. Being all aware to our inner sensory movement and breath. Physical mindfulness.

We followed his instruction and the instructions from Mikko were slow in communication, thought out and where poignant when necessary. After a while of this breathing and fluid motion, a sensation happened on the palm of my hands, they became warm… This warm glow, went from my palms, up to the top of my fingertips. It was only the palms not the whole hand. And within a few moments of this happening, Mikko described this very sensation that some of us may have been experiencing. As in synchronicity we all brought down our palms from our heads,,,, to our chests,…. and slowly in front of us.

Miiko ASAHI.mp4 from Beck Stewart on Vimeo.

that moment, was as if something was still in the air, my hands became warm and a thick wave of stillness entered the theatre. What was different to the previous session was the fact, that silence was allowed to be listened too. It was experienced in a sensory way that is difficult to describe only watching the footage gives you an small experience. I challenge you to maybe join in.

“The term Somatic refers to the body, as distinct from some other entity like the mind, and comes from the Greek somatikòs which means „of the body‟. The term was put forward in 1976 by Thomas Hanna PhD. (1928-1990), a philosopher and practitioner of Feldenkrais‟ Functional Integration, who developed Hanna Somatic Education” ( K.AMORY 2010)

Thomas Hanna (source:www.azquotes.com)

It was this same breath, that once again synced all the actors together, it was an internal sensory & psychophysical experience, shared miles and miles apart. At this point the technology became invisible, even the way I am writing this, I am describing the class as if it was in one space. it became normalised.

Many of the teaching process that were experiencing  had roots within the psychophysical field, these branch into practices such as Somatic training techniques, such as the  ‘Alexander technique’. As described by Taavo Smith in the paper ‘‘On Somatic Acting’ (2010),  it is a method of analysing internally and then trying to manifest it in the body. ‘To designate the experienced body in contrast to the objectified body” ( Choen 2008:1)

For an outsider only participating but with the experience of working with actors and dancers this form of practice would be key, as like Thomas Hanna states, the body is not instrument to be used, but by experiencing and exploring this method they would connect their mind and body as one. For myself I can see the complete benefits of using and practicing these methods not just in the arts, but in daily life, for community development and mostly for positive investment in yourself.

I have even found since editing these videos again, watching the playback, that I have participated in these class again when I have needed a time out from writing or editing. It has been a solitary experience in that sense, but a centred one too. By stepping back into the footage I have been able to reconnect, observe and experience the body classes where I haven’t maybe had the same experience editing or interacting with the singing classes. Embodiment, Movement & Mindfulness Part 2  I will reflect upon the final session with Tiina Syrja Yoga session, she teaches Integral Yoga, her students have also said that  methods such as the Alexander technique are also experienced within practice.


 

Cis.rit.edu. (2017). Definition of Psychophysics. [online] Available at: http://www.cis.rit.edu/people/faculty/montag/vandplite/pages/chap_1/ch1p2.html [Accessed 1 Aug. 2017].

TAAVO SMITH, (2017). On Somatic Acting. [online] Available at: http://www.smu.ac.uk/perfformio/images/stories/vol1no2/onsomaticacting.pdf [Accessed 1 Aug. 2017].Asahinordic.com. (2017).

www.wellnesscke.net. (2017). Acting for the Twenty-first Century: A Somatic Approach to Contemporary Actor Training. [online] Available at: http://www.wellnesscke.net/downloadables/ActingfortheTwenty-firstCentury.pdf [Accessed 1 Aug. 2017].

The Alexander Technique. (2017). The Alexander Technique & Somatic Education. [online] Available at: http://alexandertechnique.com/resources/rosenberg.pdf [Accessed 4 Aug. 2017].

Origins of asahi | Asahi Nordic | Finland. [online] Available at: http://www.asahinordic.com/en/what-is-asahi/origins-of-asahi [Accessed 9 Aug. 2017].


 

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