Conversations with my body.
I studied theatre arts at university and have recently taken up an acting course to further my practice in an all too complicated craft. For the first term i was met by a small and powerful Trinidadian lady who would teach me a thing or two about my body, the core, and it’s importance in life and acting.
We would start the lesson moving around, literally just moving our body in as many warped ways as we could, travelling across the room arms up in the air, rolling on the floor, squatting and pointing our toes. Then we were asked to walk. simple. just strut my stuff, right? WRONG. Greta Mendez a dance and acting teacher was able to look at your walk or stance and see injury, bad posture, even an emotional state you were in. We spent classes trying to free our bodies from the 21st century constraints, for example: ladies don’t walk particularly strong, we don’t use our thighs enough to lead us more our hips, hence why many cant get a leading role in acting, our focus on technology had stopped us from exploring and using the body and sitting down had ruined our spines.
“The body moves in spirals” She would say. She would never call it moving but having a ‘conversation with her body’ and breathing was ‘inspiration and aspiration’, not in and out. Another task thrust upon us was our ability to ‘deliver’, Greta would ask a question and stop you in your answer if you sounded at all weak. Language was to be respected it took someone a long time to come up with letters of an alphabet and those letters put together for words are not to be wasted. They are important, choosing a certain word to get a certain message across. None of us spoke from our core. So we spent weeks either making tableau’s or pairing up and writhing across the room shouting strange things at each other trying to get it to come from the gut.
Many times i found myself furious at what she was asking of me, it seemed like she had this beyond hippy outlook on life and i was expected to understand it straight away so when i didn’t she would give me a hard time. One tipping point lesson in particular i had to position myself in a tableau and where ever i put myself she told me i was wrong, to come out and look at the picture and then go back in. I yelled at her: I’m not going to see whatever it is, you want me to. She told me i shouldn’t give up so easy.
she’s got me there. I do give up more easily than i’d like to in life. Perhaps i found it easier to let someone else get it right/win and i could coast on by but Greta wasn’t about to let me do that. I succeeded eventually through my stubbornness and when i went home i found this weird sensation to move. To literally stretch my body up and down and explore how far i could push myself. In lessons after that i was very open.
It wasn’t just about acting but about life and the world around me. I have a new appreciation for it, and in turn being able to tap into my body and the way i use it in the external will help me fulfill characters; become somebody else.
She once made us hold an orange, smell it, stare at all the colourings, dimples and scratches then very slowly peel open and taste the orange. She said all the world was in this orange; the wind that blew the seeds, the earth that brought it up, the sun and water that fed it, the man who picked it, the man who put it on the supermarket shelf… everything. SOOOOO hippy, but true.
I now try and hold regular ‘conversations with my body’ perhaps not so warped as before, but stretching and dancing to not forget my abilities. This amazing body i was given in this amazing world is to be appreciated not bound. As an actor in particular my body is my instrument but if i wasn’t an actor i would still want to respect such an incredible thing as being alive on earth (i’m now a hippy)
I sometimes fear we find an ipad more interesting than an ocean- if you get me.
So if you do nothing else today, get up and just move. You’ll be surprised what you find!