Support Precedes Movement

I was introduced to this phrase at The School for Body Mind Centering. Lately I’ve been thinking about “Support Precedes Movement” within individual movement studies and as a way to look at the role of a choreographer.

Anatomical, physical support precedes the physical execution of a movement. If I am in touch with the deep support of my body's core muscles, I am better to able to move. I am more efficient, more powerful, more expressive. I am less prone to injury when I get out of a chair, run, dance, even when I slip and fall.

Emotional support precedes the physical execution of a movement. If I have a strong sense of internal emotional support, if I feel confident, open, resilient, I have more choices available to me when I move. I can let go of body habits and armoring that don’t serve me. I can try new ways of moving that seem different from my personality and not fear loosing myself. When the dancers I work with feel supported, feel seen and heard, they create and move with great imagination and honesty and passion.

Anatomical, physical support precedes emotional movement.
When I find the support of my feet grounding into the earth, I am better able to stay present within a strong emotion. When my body feels support, I am able to allow emotions like anger and sadness to move through me.

Emotional support precedes emotional movement. When I know that I have people to talk to and tools like writing and meditation, I am better able to venture, move into new emotional territory. I know I can take risks and that I can change.

A choreographer’s own anatomical, physical, and emotional support precede the movement of a creative process. When a choreographer is grounded in her own body, her own interests, her own reasons for making art, when she has personal support and financial (imagine!) support, she can move to entirely new, deep areas. When she has support, she can support the movement of her collaborators and her audience.

It is the choreographer’s responsibility to be conscious and clear about how she chooses to support, or not support an audience. If, as an audience member, I feel supported by the choreographer and the choices she has made, I will move with her to any number of dark, confusing, chaotic, passionate, dull places. When I do not feel supported, I am unwilling to move. When I don’t feel that the choreographer has thought of me and made deliberate decisions about my experience, I don’t trust where I am being taken and I resist. I am not talking about hand-holding or making easy pieces. On the contrary, I am looking for ways to better take audiences into uneasy places, to the places where movement in the big sense of the word happens.

What is the support that allows movement within our audiences?

1. Clarity and confidence within the artistic vision.

2. Clarity and confidence in the execution of that vision.

3. Thoughtful attention given to the kinds of movement
(emotional, intellectual, kinesthetic) we hope for within our audience.

4. Thoughtful attention given to the best ways to bring this particular vision and this particular kind of movement to this particular audience.

What is the artist interested in? What is she exploring? Why is she making art and sharing it with an audience? What is her intent for the audience? How does each part of the performance-going experience support this intent? Do the aesthetic, tone, and comfort level in this performance space support this particular vision? What experience does the audience member have at the box office, in the lobby, as she walks into the performance space? Do the first moments of a piece convey confidence of artistic vision? (This is not the same as dancers walking around looking confident. The artistic vision could convey confidence by directing the dancers to look not-confident.) Is the piece structured in a way that supports its intent?

These are my thoughts so far. I’d love to hear others.

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