Some further thoughts on embodiment work

Posted on August 15, 2010
Filed Under Body, Taylor Ellwood | Leave a Comment

When I first learned about the paratheatre technique, one problem I had with it was that I felt there was something missing from the explanation of the embodied space. Well more than something…a number of things actually.

First what was missing was a concrete explanation of how we move through space. It seems to me that most people take movement for granted and consequently move in a very unconscious manner. I’ve observed as well that people, in American culture move in a very linear line like manner, 2D movement really. We aren’t taught to recognize how our bodies could move. I had to turn to Laban’s work on movement to find a comprehensive manual that explored movement and showed possible ways to move that I hadn’t considered before. Learning this kind of movement has proven useful for fully doing internal work with my body as an active component of that internal work (i.e. dance and performance art movements).

Second what was missing was understanding space from a social perspective. In general when the word space is brought up it usually makes one think of the darkness of space. But anthropologist Edward T. Hall explored the concept of social spaces and how people interact in them with each other and with objects in the room. As a result of reading his work I came to really understand how much we even embody objects with personification as a way of filling up space. The way a given culture sets up a physical space is indicative of how that culture processes space from an emotional/intellectual perspective, and also how people define themselves within given spaces.

With these two considerations of space in hand, it’s been much easier to integrate paratheatre to my meditation work, because I now can consider how I move and how that movement expresses and changes an embodied space I’ve created, while also recognizing the cultural influences that shape my understanding of that space. Finally, and perhaps most important, I can be much more aware of how my body feels when I move, how it expresses the concept I’m working with through movement, and how that concept is or isn’t expressed in my environment everyday.

Doing this work is creating some interesting realizations. I like where its taking me, as well as what I can learn about my body and the relationship I have with it and the environment around me, and how my body expresses the subconscious with its movement and interaction with space.