While most of us do not think of movement
as an important part of communicating
it really is. According to The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
a total of 55-70 percent of communication is nonverbal
leaving only 7 percent to the actual words
and tone of voice.
And although this applies to daily conversation it even more directly applies to acting. I will discuss the importance of expressing emotions through movement, how to physicalize those emotions, the importance of agility/training for the body, and how dancing and drama are related to further enhance my previous statement. In other words, an actor must be more aware of every action than other human beings to portray a pretend person in an imaginary situation convincingly.
When an actor is on stage they are always doing something. They are always engaged in some sort of action. A person’s life is made up of a series of actions just like a play is. An actor just needs to know how to physicalize those emotions. Physicalize means finding the outward, physical expression of the internal, psychological action. The psychological action is what one thinks. In daily life it is not necessary to focus on what the body does in relation to the thoughts but on stage, in order for the audience to understand what the actor is thinking, one must express the character’s thoughts through movement. An actor must pay attention to the words of their character to determine what an appropriate action would be. For instance if one’s line were “I have to go, but I can’t stand the thought of leaving you,” it would not be the same if the actor was to just stand, without moving, and speak the line. It would be more effective if the actor were to turn away from the other character on “I have to go,” then turn back, rush to the other character and embrace them on “but I can’t stand the thought of leaving you.” With every sentence a person says there are so many different actions that could convey different emotions and it is basically up to the actor (and sometimes the director) to decide what action to use to produce the right emotion.
Surprisingly enough, training the body is an important aspect of theater. However, physical endeavor is, usually, not associated with any artistic work but if one were to think more carefully on the subject- several hours of running up and down stairs, fighting, and changing costume may come to mind.
Developing strength and stamina, through whatever way the actor is comfortable with, is basically the first thing on the list of training the body for acting. By developing strength and stamina an actor can have the maximum physical control. Ways to develop strength and stamina include bodybuilding, different athletic sports, and aerobic exercise.
Developing coordination and dexterity is another important step in training the actor’s body for performing. A dexterous actor refers to one that is able to speak and move at the same time. An actor’s coordination would be being able to move with passion and precision at the same time.
Part of an actor or an actress’s bodily training involves specific movement skills, such as dancing. Whether being useful in itself or simply assisting an actor’s confidence, timing, grace, and poise it is obvious that dancing is a helpful, additional skill in acting and drama. But how do the two connect? This was a question that originally had me pondering and eager to know more. Surprisingly as it may seem there was very little information I could find on the subject. Still, taking what bits of information I could dig up here and there, I think I have found enough to satisfy my curiosity.
It is said, by some, “dance is the essence of drama.” Namely Jacques Copeau the French director and actor who, along with Konstanin Stanislavsky, was one of the “leading innovators of twentieth-century drama.”
Apparently this strong distinction between drama and dance that we are aware of today is a reasonably new concept. In classical forms of Asian Theater and ancient Greek, Roman, Elizabethan, and medieval theater this difference did not exist. Though many people, including the actors themselves, are unaware of the fact all actors dance. A good actor or actress does know this, though.
With this view in mind, it is proved by the suggestion that one could watch a room of men and women dancing and, further more, pretend for a moment, the music had been turned off. Imagine the movement of the dancers. Likewise, one could watch a play and forget the facial mimicry, words, and plot but, rather, focus on the movements of the actors. If they are doing their job one should be able to see the hidden dance intensifying their stage presence. A trained eye can tell if an actor or an actress is not using the “hidden dance”, for without it, their performance does not seem authentic.
Node your homework!