Snippet Blog #4 - It Can Do A Backflip, but Can It Hold Down a Desk Job?

I am excited to share this fun article written by one of my classmates in my first Module at the Laban Institute of Movement Studies. Amy is a unique woman, combining her love of dance and robotics to bring a unique perspective to both!

I love how, in this article, she brings to light the complexity of what we think of as the simplest of our everyday human movements - from unsticking a label from itself to choosing how to respond to an inappropriate joke!

She asserts what I too know to be true: you, yes, even you who do a desk job and believe you avoid any sort of exercise or physical activity can make claim to the quite incredible and complex things that you do EVERY day with your body. You are often doing intricate amazing things that you may not yet understand or, often, even value.

I especially love the line "this requires leveraging your full mechanical complexity to indicate shades of approval and disapproval simultaneously." Yes, folks, the way you express yourself is also movement.

Living one’s life as a moving, functional, expressive being requires a set of skills that, for the most part, we developed through responding to biology, reacting to the environment and practicing patterns and conditioning in our every day interactions! And while, like robots, we can simply follow our programming without question, as humans we have the capability of exploring the possibilities beyond what we have learned in the past. As humans, we have the capacity to develop consciously an extensive range of versatile competencies that we can choose to explore, refine and challenge as we live our daily lives fully. Unlike the robot programmed for a specific task, we (and our lives) are complex . You could say that we are “programmed” for growth and change!

We get to choose. Being human means we can be like the robot, adept at functional, repetitive, patterned movement that requires a narrow set of rules and conditions. Or we can be fully complexly human, taking risks, making conscious our habits, exploring the places where we are no longer or not yet competent, playing with options and possibilities! As humans, we have the capacity to continually deepen and expand our expressiveness, our variability, our resilience! Unlike the robot, we always have the option to be curious and to question our “programming”…and sometimes this can mean, simply, taking the time to be curious and to notice what is involved as you pick up a paperclip or negotiate an uncomfortable moment in a conversation.

Function/Expression in Laban Movement Analysis (LMA)

Good evening, community -

here is a bit for you about the movement theme of Function/Expression, which is part of your every day movement, whether you know it or not!

Functional movement relates to the mechanics of movement:  what body part(s) move in what action.  An example of a basic functional movement would be - rotate your head from the left to the right.  

Expressive Movement is about what body part is moving in what action, and also how and why you are moving.   Expression is the “feel," the zest, the juice, the meaning within the movement!

By consciously exploring your relationship with Function and with Expression you expand your capacity for balance and wholeness.  This change is not only in your ability to functionally perform the actions that you take, but also in what and how you communicate to yourself and the world around you with your actions. 

The movement forms of Express Yourself and of Movement Fundamentals that I offer are two separate workshop opportunities that were created as companions in the exploration of Function/Expression.  The intention of each is, in part, to explore one "end" of this particular Theme of Duality.  By exploring each "half" of the duality, a mover has the opportunity to then re-integrate these dualities and to move with more overall resiliency.

Take a moment to consider the functional action of rotating your head.  Now ask your self:  how and why did I rotate my head from left to right?  Was I moving to visually or energetically take in the horizon or did I move to watch something as it flew right in front of my face? Did I move my head in a gliding continuous motion or did I jerk with small pulses from place to place along the route?  Was my movement Free and fluid or more Bound and controlled?  As I performed this action, was my focus within myself or out into my environment?  Did I notice my breath as I moved?  Was my movement an invitation to something or someone, or was this the movement of retreating away from something offensive?  Why and How did I do that action? 

Even if your answer is that you moved because you were told to, know that within your movement you did something that qualitatively made your movement unique to you. 

In their 2013 Everybody Is a Body, an exploratory primer on movement through the lens of LMA, Studd & Cox write "In order for change to be successful, there must be a change in how you perceive yourself and how you choose to express yourself in the world.  Unless one is able to make a fundamental shift in the expressive part of oneself, old patterns will reassert themselves.  Successful change includes both the purely functional as well as the expressive parts of self."

Deepening our relationship with the interrelated duality of Function/Expression gives us a way to more conscious ownership of the unique bodies that we each live within!