Photo by Jo Tabacek

Theatre course works on body and motion

Fundamentals of Movement, an intro-level course in the theatre department, focuses on learning about anatomy through physical experiences and basic dance technique. The class is taught by visiting dance instructor Eric Nordstrom, who has 20 years of dance experience including an MFA in dance from The  Ohio State University. 

Using a variety of floor exercises such as working with therabands and having partners facilitate small movements, the class explores the contraction and expansion of different muscles. Nordstrom and his students begin by studying anatomical structures such as the pelvis and spine.  

“We look at muscles that run along the pelvis, psoas major and minor … we then move (into exercises) to feel the weight of the pelvis isolated in the body,” Nordstrom said. “(We use) therabands to feel concentric contractions of the psoas major as the leg is raised and dicentric action as it is lengthened.” 

The class also uses text and images to visualize the parts of the body that they are exploring.  Nordstrom uses visual image cues to inspire different types of movement from his students.

“An image can be either literal or metaphorical, an example of a literal image is asking (them) to visualize the pelvis as you would see it diagramed,” Nordstrom said. “They can also work with metaphoric images that elicit movement …  that might be the idea of an umbrella expanding in the lungs or visualizing the head of a femur like a stick being pulled.” 

Another large section of the class is using knowledge of anatomy in dance phrasing. Focusing on repetition rather than remembering a sequence of steps, larger movement in the class is used to deeply understand the information in the body and apply it to dance steps. 

Shep Braddy ’23 decided to take Fundamentals of Movement to continue his study of theatre with a different twist. Braddy enjoys learning about how the body works and incorporating aspects of the class into his everyday life. 

“Becoming in sync with the body is really appealing and really relaxing,” Braddy said. “Learning how to be aware of your body … and focus on what the body wants and needs incorporated into movement has been really applicable.” 

Laurent Satterwhite ‘23 has an extensive background in dance and enjoys Fundamentals of Movement because it is more improvisation- based than her previous training. 

“I really enjoy Fundamentals of Movement because it is doing what your body wants to do, rather than you telling your body what to do,” Satterwhite said. “We learn about what’s happening deep down during certain movements … (that) also helps in the technical aspect of (dance) because you know what muscles are actually firing and what needs to work harder.” 

Fundamentals of Movement is foremost a class about experiencing anatomy through the movement of dance. Nordstrom hopes that students are able to come away with a more meaningful understanding and  deeper relationship with their physical body.

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