About the Practices

Wendell Beavers and Erika Berland have been developing a technical movement training in the MFA Theater; Contemporary Performance program since 2004. In this workshop we will present the basic conceptual framework for developmental movement and experiential anatomy and apply this to both structured improvisational exploration and repeatable movement sequences. The goal of somatic technique is to extend and deepen the range of psycho-physical response. These techniques have their basis in material presented by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen in her approach encompassed by Body-Mind Centering®. This material can be arranged in a variety of sequences serving a number of outcomes. The workshop will primarily address developing original movement (both gestural and abstract) and integrating the whole body into the actors analysis and response to text, image,character.

Developmental Movement is the study of the basic neurological patterns of locomotion and reflexive response. These patterns are inherent in the nervous system from both the phylogenetic (developmental) and ontogenetic (evolutionary) perspective. The fundamental patterns include both prevertebrate and vertebrate organization of the body and underlie complex movement and expression. These are the basic patterns of locomotion which underlie complex movement and whole body response .

Developmental Technique™ is a structured investigation of developmental movement exploring the basic patterns of locomotion, from pre-spinal, navel radiated states through crawling to vertical, embodied expression in space. The goals of the technique are to generate original movement vocabulary and to open the possibility of a wider and wider range of psycho-physical response within an interdisciplinary performance medium which embraces acting, dancing, abstract choreography,narrative and the play and scene form.


Experiential Anatomy is the study of all the major systems of the body. The somatic technique of experiential anatomy brings together a cognitive, conceptual understanding (basic anatomy and function) with personal and experiential research facilitated by movement, voice, breath and visualization.  The specificity and detail of the Body-Mind Centering (R) approach gives us access to the variety of texture, emotional quality and expression inherent in the bodies tissues and organs. 


Viewpoints: In the workshop we will review the viewpoints vocabulary of space, time, shape, kinesthetic response, story (image) and emotion as both a field of focus for the individual performer and as compositional tools for the devising of performance work. The Naropa MFA curriculum has striven to integrate a psycho-physical approach to acting (primarily through Stephen Wangh’s work based on Jerzy Grotowski’s approach), the experiential anatomy and developmental material derived from Bonnie Cohen’s work (BMC), and the mindfulness/awareness practices of meditation into a comprehensive performance training. Viewpoints improvisation and composition is viewed as a way to put all of these practices or techniques into a field of intensified expression or art making. We will investigate the viewpoints in the workshop as a container and organizer for individual and ensemble expression.


Throughout the workshop we will reference the contemplative view and practice of mindfulness/awareness meditation as a sophisticated mind/body training to develop presence and cultivate direct experience. An introduction to mindfulness/awareness practice based on Shambhala Buddhist forms will be included in the workshop. No previous meditation experience is necessary.


Both the viewpoints and somatic technique can be viewed as underlying research tools for creating original work (devised work) or for fulfilling or embodying prescribed forms from choreographic concerns to character, scene, text or narrative arc.