I started the Movement/Biomechanics intensive at Freehold Studio yesterday. My general impression from this class: I am going to be so ripped by the end of the class. Wow. We definitely moved around a lot.
Biomechanics is all about physical control on stage. Stanislavsky’s method is supposed to be about emotional control, although I personally have never quite had that experience with it. Meyerhold’s work is the opposite: if you have physical control, the emotional control will come, too.
The reason I don’t consider myself an actor, and why I haven’t taken acting classes in a long time, is that they always get a little too life lesson-y for me. This one got there, but it wasn’t terrible. And unlike yoga, this class doesn’t get into the woo metaphors (“woo” being a term for spiritual, unfounded ideas, like dowsing). I love yoga, but there’s a lot of reasons for doing certain positions that are a little strange to me. I remember in one yoga class, we were supposed to end with an inversion, which I didn’t do because I don’t have the muscle strength to stand on my head — but the reason we were supposed to invert was to feed all the toxins we had to our inner fires, which the beginning of the class had stoked. I tried to not take that literally, but I know a lot of people do take that kind of talk in yoga very seriously. So, fortunately, this movement class doesn’t have a lot of woo talk to it, although I look forward to the class when we start learning why certain exercises or movements are part of the class.
On the other hand, I gave up having any dignity when I walked into class, which turned out to be for the better. It is really embarrassing to move around in weird, new ways, to be the slowest or weakest in the class. I wasn’t, at least not in all things, but I’m sure there will be times when I will be, and I’m sure there were exercises where, from the outside, I was one of the weakest and I just couldn’t tell. But that’s not the point — the point is to push my boundaries and do something I haven’t done before.
For most of the class we just explored movement. We learned the absolute basics of biomechanics, like stoika (the starting position), and otkaz (the wind-up movement, like when you’re about to throw a ball). Otherwise, it was just exploratory, which was fun and interesting, but it wasn’t as strict, specific as I was kind of expecting. I’m not passing a value judgment on that, because I’m in the class to explore new things, but it was sort of different, less technical. But, there is that saying in theatre that it should be fun, otherwise its not worth doing (which I think should be true of any job you have). So exploring and having fun is a good start.
There was a Radiolab I listened to some weeks back on limits. The beginning was about pushing your physical limits, and the voice in your head that tells your to stop — and how you can sometimes overcome that. I wonder how easily most of us give up, in the comfortable Western world. I hit my first limit about an hour into the class, when my muscles started to hurt and I hit the limit of my actual muscle strength. I had to keep pushing past that, since there were another 3 hours in the class, but part of me got a little whiney, a little “I don’t waaaaaaaaaant to!” But I, of course, continued past that, which was a nice reminder that I can.
So it was fun. I’m looking forward to getting into more specifics and technique in the next classes.