Minimum Surface Contact
Each actor studies configurations of his body which bring its surface into minimum contact with the floor, varying the options and exploring all the possibilities: feet and hands, one foot and one hand, buttocks only, chest, back. . . . At one time or another during the exercise the surface of every part of the body must have touched the floor. (Make sure you are working on a suitable surface – grass or a soft-ish floor is best.)
The passage from one position to another should be done very slowly, to stimulate all the muscles which intervene in the transition, and to allow the actor to take stock of what is happening. The actor must feel the force of the weight pulling him towards the ground. In his daily life, he spends his time seated, or lying down, or standing, and thus he is accustomed to dealing with gravity in these positions – but there are a thousand other ways of counteracting this force.
Our ordinary, daily movements eventually mechanise our bodies – this exercise is about de-mechanising, de-structuring, dismantling. After a few minutes, ask the actors to get into pairs. Each actor must be in contact with his partner’s body and lean into her, at the same time maintaining the minimum contact with both partner and floor. The actors must counterbalance each other and help one another to make movements and assume positions that they could never do alone. Their two bodies must move slowly and continuously, at every juncture trying to find a new position, a new arrangement, which must then be changed for another and another, in one long continuous flow.
Afterwards, ask them to work in the same way in groups of four, or possibly eight, maybe even all in a single group. In this exercise (as with all the other physical exercises of muscular communication), it is absolutely forbidden to talk, make suggestions, or ask questions; communication, in this situation, is solely muscular or visual, never verbal. Talking, even in whispers, spoils the exercise because words distract the attention from the act of observing and feeling with the whole body. Nor should the participants try to achieve great feats of strength or to outperform others. No heroism. No risks. But, within the bounds of the possible, people should try everything, without obliging others to do anything they can’t or don’t want to do. You make suggestions (through the muscles) to others, and in turn either accept their physical suggestions or not.
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