What Stops You From Being Here? What Helps You Be Present?
Action Theater awareness training is an improvisational body-based process used for the discovery of new forms of expression. Its main work mode is physical: the physical body and feelings that are contained inside. The training helps dancers expand their physical forms and inhabit those forms with humanity. Through the practice of working solo and with partners, Action Theater develops a better understanding of ensemble architecture, the use of space and composition. In exercises, all action is broken down into shifts, transformations and/or development. These exercises help establish the balance between inner and outer awareness. They specifically limit areas of action and response so that students open to the unknown, break free of fear and embrace the unfamiliar.
By bringing awareness to actions’ interior, Action Theater leads the dancer back into her body, broadens the range and quality of her movement. It helps develop a unique and idiosyncratic vocabulary, frees the individual and brings each performer to a fresh, new relationship with their movement.
When improvising, thoughts occur inside of actions while the actions are taking place. These thoughts are energetic parts of each moment, similar to kinesthetic sensation. And they can steal from the moment or add to it. If the improviser blocks these thoughts, then the improvisation stiffens and breaks down. If on the other hand, the performer greets these thoughts and incorporates them, the improvisation takes off.
To improvise skillfully one must be aware of the responses that are available within each given moment. This kind of awareness takes practice, dis-covering and saying yes to what arises from the body and mind. If the dancer doesn’t know herself, hasn’t investigated her quirks and desires, she will lose track of form and content. When the dancer is seduced by form, she loses her awareness. Who is she when she is doing this particular movement? How does she feel? When she is seduced by content, spatial use will decline, the particular qualities of movement will be lost, the body may be forgotten. What kinesthetic sensation triggers the feeling state that triggers the action that triggers the kinesthetic sensation? How and when does this cycle occur and where does awareness enter?
Action Theater enters the performance process, quiets the busy mind and allows for new choices. It helps the performer recognize her habits and moments of “turning off.” It builds performance skills and serves as source work for new choreographies. It increases performers’ presence. Performers feel more connected to their experience, connected to their partners. They feel embodied and alive.