Learning to Move With Ease

by Catherine L. Tully

Young adults celebrating on beach

One thing that many actors have in common is some sort of dance or movement training.

Acting in a particular role means that you have to move convincingly as the character you are portraying. So how does one achieve the look they are going for? A combination of factors can add to the ease of movement that an actor seeks to attain. Here are some good places to start:

Take a Movement/Dance Class
One thing that many actors have in common is some sort of dance or movement training. Some take ballet to help their balance and coordination as well as their poise. You need not enroll in a serious class however--taking nearly any type of dance or movement class will help you to move with a sense of ease.

One benefit that comes from taking some type of dance is the focus on the upper body. You will learn to use the head and arms in a graceful way, in addition to working on your posture. Dance can also help you learn the regal carriage required in many roles. In addition, it helps to both build and maintain muscle, so it can also be considered a supplement to your acting training.

Practice, Practice, Practice
With each repetition any movement you do will become easier and more natural. Once you have done it over and over again, you will have it in your "muscle memory." This means that you will no longer have to think about what you are doing when you are doing it. When you get to this point the blocking will seem effortless and staying in character will be simple.

Learn to Apply Direction
As the director watches you, he/she will most likely correct you if they see you doing things that seem to be wrong for your character. Learning to apply these corrections is not always as easy as it sounds. Being in touch with your body means that you are able to "feel" where you are off, and adjust accordingly. Try to make that connection between what the director is telling you and what is going on with your body. As you perfect your movements, they will automatically look like they are easier to do.

Watch Others
Sometimes you can be inspired by others who perform in a way that you admire. When you see someone who you enjoy watching--try to figure out what it is that you like so much about their movement. If you can actually verbalize what it is you are trying to achieve, you are one step closer toward reaching that goal.

Fine-tuning your skills by using some of the ideas above is a good way to get started in creating movement that appears natural for a particular character. Whether you use all of the techniques above or just start with one or two, you can begin adding more depth to your characters right away.
Catherine L. Tully is a performing arts professional and educator with over 30 years of experience. She is currently serving as the Outside Europe Representative for the National Dance Teachers Association in the UK, and has performed, modeled, choreographed and managed productions both in the United States and in Japan. You can reach her at www.freelance-zone.com.

Copyright © Catherine L. Tully. Used with permission of the author. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or distributed.
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