How to Understand the Essentials of Movement in Acting – Shoulders and Head

We’ve seen how the head carries sense and meaning, so the shoulders and neck must be free, poised and flexible. All gesture and action with the arms and hands flow freely from the centre of the upper chest. Try this small experiment to get the feel of this.

1- Raise your arms and elbows to the level of your shoulders, and stretch your arms out sideways, fingers spread out. Now start to curl your arms toward your chest from the fingertips; wrists, elbows, till your knuckles are pressing on your breastbone. Slowly reverse the motion, uncurling first the shoulders, then the elbows, then the wrists, and finally the hands and fingers, then back again to the closed position. You can see how the gesture involves the whole upper body. Try it again with only one arm, this time grasping an imaginary feather, which you clutch to your breast. Now with the other arm imagine you are pulling on a rope with someone pulling the other end of it.


2- To loosen the shoulders, stand with your feet apart, and check the position of pelvis and spine. Let the head float up, remembering that light, steely cord that runs through the spine from the top of your head.

Raise both shoulders as high as you can. Drop them, feeling the arms completely free. Raise and drop each shoulder alternately, making sure that there are no tensions anywhere else in the body. The aim of all work on the body and movement is to be able to use parts of it in isolation – a mere expressionless shrug is sometimes worth a page of dialogue. Pull both shoulders forward, letting the arms just simply hang; now pull them backward, now each shoulder separately forward and backward. Repeat all these exercises several times, then let the shoulders return to their true position, neither braced back or hunched forward. The appearance of tension in the shoulders is the most obvious sign of a nervous actor and is an impediment to action with the top half of the body, head, arms and hands.

Filed Under: Arts & Entertainment


About the Author: Cody Riffel is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo. She likes to write on variety of topics, whatever interests her. She also likes to share what she learns over the Internet and her day-to-day life.

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