There should be exercises for all parts of the body; with the aim of developing energy, strength, flexibility, coordination and balance. Energy, impulse and physical action are developed together with basic acrobatics (falling, rolling, balance) to stimulate perseverance. Focus is created by handling objects and solving tasks.
There is an uncountable number of books describing gymnastic movements and yoga that might be consulted, as well as Feldenkrais, Pilates and Alexander techniques to consider for the re-education of the body.
Doing the exercises in a more gymnastic type of work, does no harm to students in principle. However, there is a more effective and dramatic way to connect the exercises to dramatic expression, as mentioned above:
If the student concentrates on parts that are not just his muscles and joints (they are only means for a concrete action), but transforms a technical, muscular task into an inner stimulus, an aim in space or a dramatic task, movement becomes dramatic action!
- A movement has a purpose, an aim, it can be acting or reacting to a psychological stimulus, or
- on the forces and counterforces of the body and using the
- directions of movement (aim-concentrated)
The study of energy, movement-impulse and focus
The following are exercises designed to produce stage energy and to direct it towards an aim. Stage energy is heightened energy (‘prise dramatique’).
Energy (called power, force, radiation, presence by some) is trained by specific ‘physico-mental’ exercises and cannot be achieved by pure physical training! Energy must be developed, maintained (not to slacken in intensity) and sometimes withdrawn, and, if necessary, stored or withheld in the body. But sometimes energy is shared with partner(s), or on a higher level – and transformed into a different energy-type according to a dramatic situation (as in ‘bull-energy’ switching to ‘wind-energy’.)
The impulse is the physical initiator of movement. The motor, the stimulus of energy, produces the aim of movement, by the desire for action, to focus on a specific aspect.
Energy grows proportionally with the desire to solve a task – the excitement to achieve something, and is developed in the movement itself. Situations must be created by the instructor that focus the actor on this desire. In the beginning, these motivations may come from the leader; later the actor finds them himself. The desire is created by imaginary stimuli or by more concrete, physical tasks, and the support of the partner(s).
The first partner is an object to handle, such as a stick. Full focus must be given to its manipulation. The stick will fall or hurt the student if he is not focused on it, or if he does not collaborate with it. Juggling sticks, balls of various sizes and weights, ribbons, fans, dusters, water-sleeves, swords, etc. teach the student responsibility and understanding of what he is doing. The object gives him ‘objective feedback’. He is less dependent on the teacher.
Energy is developed through the actor’s point of concentration POC (mental and physical!), maintained and driven by the desire (not just the will!) to solve a task, and creates attention through the exaltation of body and mind.
Focus, concentration and attention is produced by observation. The student chooses (or must be given) a strong concentration point: It helps the actor to solve his task and to create attention. If he works with objects, the mover is not focused on himself (on his faculties and shortcomings) – but on a concrete task. That also solves psychological problems.
In 1974 the Romanian director Radu Penciulescu brought a few bamboo-stick exercises from Peter Brook’s workshop in Paris. I developed a whole series of concrete training exercises from them for Vargteatern in Uppsala, as described below.
There are many benefits from this series: communication with a partner, focus on observation, reaction.
Object exercises with bamboo sticks 1.25–1.43
Necessary: Thumb-thick bamboo sticks, ca. 1.80 m long
Exercise 1.25: Sitting in a relaxed position, with back straight on the floor. In front of the person lies a bamboo stick. The person looks at it, takes it in her hands, checks its weight, surface, colour, smell, etc. and manipulates it. (Important side coaching: Focus fully on the stick, and not on yourself, observe it with all senses.
Exercise 1.26: Each person balances a bamboo stick on their fingers, hands, shoulders, head, knee, foot, etc. and moves through the space (this can be done with the voice as well: With a poem, a children’s verse, or a song), and ‘speaks to the stick’, to calm it, to keep it in place etc). These are focus exercises.
Moving together with sticks in-between
Exercise 1.27: Bamboo stick between two people. A and B each keep one end of the bamboo stick on their forefinger, press and move through the space, lifting the arms together, sitting, turning, etc.
Variation: Same exercise, keeping and holding the ends of the bamboo stick on other fingers, the wrist, the elbow, the shoulder, the knee, on the hip, the chest, the forehead, etc., and press and move through the space.
Exercise 1.28: Several people connected by bamboo sticks. Same exercise with 3–10 people, connected by bamboo sticks.
Exercise 1.29: Same exercise, variation: One person is connected by 2 to 6 bamboo sticks and moves, followed by the others, through the space.
Exercise 1.30: Focus on touch. A lies relaxed on the floor. B (and C) each hold their bamboo sticks with both hands (at one end), standing at a distance from the person lying down. They take it in turns to touch the partner with the end of the stick, with a certain pressure and for a certain time and withdraw the stick again. A is focusing on the touch.
Exercise 1.31: Same exercise, but A is touched on body articulations (shoulders, elbows, knees, etc.
Exercise 1.32: Same exercise, but B, C, and D move around the body of the person lying down and work more quickly.
Exercise 1.33: Reactions. Same exercise, but the person on the floor reacts where they are touched – pushing the stick away from the body – and relaxes again.
Exercise 1.34: Manipulated. Same exercise, but A keeps the body positions of his reactions and lets himself be manipulated by the three partners who make him rise, sit, move, etc.
Extra focus: If a stick falls on the floor, all members of the group lie down quickly on their backs (or clap twice on the floor), then rise together and continue.
Throwing and exchanging bamboo sticks with partner
Exercise 1.35: Passing the stick. The students move quickly through the space. A stick is swiftly given from hand to hand.
Exercise 1.36: Each person handles a bamboo stick, tosses it in the air vertically or horizontally, with both hands and with one hand.
Exercise 1.37: Freeze when catching the stick, then move while holding the stick.
Exercise 1.38: Freeze while holding the stick, and move while tossing it.
Exercise 1.39: Exchange a stick with a partner, horizontally or vertically, behave as in exercise 37 or 38, and move through the space.
Exercise 1.40: Exchange a stick with a partner, but sit, kneel or lie on the floor.
Exercise 1.41: Exchange two sticks with your partner, one after the other or at the same time, and behave as in exercise 32, 33, or 35.
Exercise 1.42: The whole group moves through the space, throwing bamboo sticks to each other. First only one stick, and then the second, third, etc. until there are more sticks than participants.
Exercise 1.43: Hitting the partner’s stick. A hits (or throws) his stick towards B (horizontally), A hits or throws it back while holding it in one hand or both hands, vertically. If the partner throws the stick vertically, it is hit back horizontally.
Fighting exercises with sticks
An alternative to the fighting exercises described here are exercises from Beijing opera (bazi), martial arts such as kung fu, kalaripayattu, or kendo.
These exercises below may be done with bamboo sticks, but they function better with the Japanese jinai. With its round, leather-covered top, it is very useful for impulse training.
Fighting exercises 1.44–1.52
Impulse and reaction exercises with Jinai
Exercise 1.44: Giving, receiving, and reacting on impulses. A stands in the samurai position, stable on the floor, back straight, and is touched by B with the top of the jinai on the spot of a body articulation (shoulder, elbow, foot…), and A reacts (with a short otkas). He must push the stick straight away from the touched body part, without moving other body parts.
Exercise 1.45: Same exercise, several partners give impulses to A, from different directions.
Exercise 1.46: As per exercise 44. A pushes the stick away along with an impulse voice (In the beginning only an open: ha!).
Exercise 1.47: Same exercise as above. A recites continuously a text he knows very well. After each physical impulse follows a voice impulse.
Exercise 1.48: Dangerous passage through the gorge: The actor(s) run around in the space. The teacher, with a jinai, stands on the side of a marked section. (The participants must pass a dangerous place, about 3 m long). On one side is an abyss, and in front of the wall stands ‘the robber’. It is the only way! The participant has a special focus when he passes the spot and tries to get through quickly…
Exercise 1.49: The ‘robber’ (the teacher with the jinai) tries to touch the running actor from behind on the shoulder. The actor reacts, gets out of the danger zone with the shoulder untouched, without speeding up through the dangerous passage. (First all students are touched under the shoulder blade).
Exercise 1.50: The ‘robber’ tries to touch another body part (from behind), such as under the shoulder blades, on the buttocks, the neck, elbow, hand, back of the knees, heel…
Exercise 1.51: Moving stick. The teacher moves a long, vertically held stick down to the floor and rises it again, at different speeds. The participant must pass through or jump over, without changing the rhythm of his passing movement.
Exercise 1.52: ‘The moving letterbox’. Two people move two parallelly held sticks (longer than a jinai), and open and close them. The passing person jumps between when the sticks are open and over with a tiger somersault when they are closed.
Exercises with broomsticks
Broomsticks are heavier than bamboo sticks. They should be covered with coloured tape at the ends and the middle, protecting them by splitting when the fall on the floor.
Exercise 1.53: Tossing the broomstick around body:
- The stick is caught with the toes and tossed upwards
- The stick rests on the knee, is kicked upwards and caught with a hand.
- The stick is thrown into the air…and caught, etc. as with bamboo sticks.
- The stick is held behind the back, thrown over the head and caught.
Hitting exercises with bamboo sticks or jinai exercises 1.54–1.58
These exercises do not serve as fighting skills, but are about trust between partners.
Exercise 1.54: Ha, hee and hay hitting. A holds the stick in front of the body, vertically, moves it into the horizontal (otkas!) and strikes it in a half-circle to the left, towards the shoulders of B, and calls out ‘HA!’ for hitting on the head, bends down for hitting A’s feet, ‘HEE!’ for hitting the feet or the knees, and rises his body for ‘cutting into two pieces’, from vortex I to the soles, with ‘HAY!’ First practise only correct hitting with the otkas sound.
Exercise 1.55: B avoids being hit by A. Now A strikes according to the exercises above. On ‘Ha!’ B quickly bends his head and body, on ‘HEE!’ he jumps over the stick with joined feet, and on ‘HAY’! he takes a big step to the side or rolls to the side.
Exercise 1.56: To stop the impulse. B stands in front of A (at a distance of less than 1 metre). A practises hitting but stops the movement one cm before A’s skin.
Exercise 1.57: A and B have sticks. A hits B 8 times, B hits A 8 times. The partners stand close, less than 1 metre’s distance, and they never touch each other!
Exercise 1.58: The first partner hits, and the other reacts. This exercise needs good focus and trust.
Other object exercises
Exercises with silk ribbons
Silk ribbons, 5–50 cm wide, and 2–5 m long.
Ribbons react differently! the movement to get them in motion starts from the floor, from balance, goes from the legs, through the spine and in the end through the lifted arm. The direction of movement is upwards and to the outside. Wait for the moment of return. Give the ribbon an impulse, let it fly, and give the next impulse just before the ribbon starts to fall. It should never touch the floor!
Silk ribbons exercises 1.59–1.63
Exercise 1.59: Move with the ribbon, let it stay in the air.
Exercise 1.60: Throwing the ribbon up into the air, your hands are free for a short movement before you catch it again.
Exercise 1.61: Throwing the ribbon up as in the previous exercise, and in the free time, sit down, clap, kneel, turn, jump, etc.
Exercise 1.62: Change ribbons with a partner.
Exercise 1.63: Work with two ribbons.
These exercises are a precursor for the Chinese water-sleeve skills.
Exercises with plates 1.64–1.68
Exercise 164: Throwing plates to your partner(s), horizontally or vertically, in a given rhythm.
Exercise 1.65: Moving when catching the plate.
Exercise 1.66: Moving with hands free.
Exercise 1.67: Rolling over one shoulder backwards with the plate (with a cake on it!)
Exercise 1.68: Rolling forwards over one shoulder with the plate.
Exercises with other objects 1.69–1.71
Exercise 1.69: Throwing objects. Students stand in a circle some distance from each other and pass different objects from one to another. First only one object and then later several objects of different size, texture and weight, such as chairs, pens, boxes, shirts. The participants try to involve their whole bodies in catching and throwing.
Exercise 1.70: Throw balls of different size, real or imaginary ones.
Exercise 1.71: Throw chairs in a circle, first one, then several. Start throwing to the next person, standing close to each other, and after some time to the person standing opposite a little further away. (Advanced exercise.)
Exercises for the centre and the back
First, try some very important movements for the correct placing of the pelvis:
Correct placing of the pelvis exercises 1.72–1.91
Exercise 1.72: Buttock walk. Sitting on the floor, legs extended, back straight, glide forward on the buttocks, and then glide backwards again.
Exercise 1.73: Body contractions from the centre. Lying on one side on the hips, violently fold the body from the middle. Also bend the arms and hands (embryo position to the side).
Exercise 1.74: Fortification of the abdominals: Lie on your back with your feet close to your buttocks, keeping the back straight with the tilted basin. Lift your feet 4–15 cm from the floor. Replace the feet on the floor. The back should not move!!
Exercise 1.75: Biking. Place your pelvis, sit on your elbows, and move your legs in pedalling movement. Keep the pelvis and the back on the floor, pedalling to the outside and the inside.
Exercise 1.76: The candle: Lying on your back, raise your legs and buttocks off the floor, supporting your back with your hands, and lift the pelvis upwards as much as possible. Push your ribcage to the chin, and higher, then point your toes to the ceiling. Drop one leg after the other onto the floor behind your feet. Extend your legs and flex your feet. After a while, drop your knees to the floor, and maintain the plough position.
Exercise 1.77: Buttock muscles. Lying on the floor, arms to the side, contract the muscles in the right side of your buttocks. (Realise how the pelvis tilts to the left.) Contract right, left, right, left, both, both, and repeat several times rhythmically. First slowly, augmenting the speed of the movement so it becomes a reflex.
Exercise 1.78: Tilt the pelvis backwards and forwards from kneeling. Tilt the pelvis backwards, inhale. Tilt the pelvis forward, and lift it, exhaling, using the muscles in your thighs. Sit again on your knees, feet outstretched under you. Inhale, then lift the pelvis again, bend the spine and the head backwards and exhale.
Exercise 1.79: Tilt the pelvis and holding it in the centre. Contract your buttock muscles, pull the navel with the help of the abdominal muscles towards the spine, and pull the abdomen upwards. The two muscular forces of buttocks and abdominals are holding (by counterforces) the pelvis in the middle, and the spine straightens, then all vertebrae touch the floor (the knees may bend a little). Exhale under the tension, inhale under relaxation).
Exercise 1.80: Repeat the previous exercise while standing.
Exercise 1.81: Head lift. Lying on the back, arms to the side, (‘cross’), lift the head without moving the shoulders.
Exercise 1.82: Combine exercises 79 and 81. Lift the head at the same time as you contract both buttock muscles and place the vertebrae on the floor. The front side is concave.
Exercise 1.83: Try to rise into sitting position from the previous position 82, bend forwards, catch the toes with the hands and bend forwards with extended legs. Raise the spine to a sitting position, vertebra after vertebra (in the axis), then extend the arms upwards, look straight forward, tilt the pelvis forward and let the spine follow, the elbows bend, the arms turn inside and the head is lifted (accordion position), then push on the pelvis and tilt it back, the arms with palms forwards again, head straight.
Exercise 1.84: Superior state of pelvis tilt. As per exercise 1.79. The buttock muscles stay relaxed. Work only with the force of the abdominal muscles.
Exercise 1.85: Hip flexibility. Sit with your knees to the right, raise the upper body, the sit down on the left side without the help of the arms.
Exercise 1.86: Lying on the back, pull one knee onto your chest, stretch the other leg out on the floor, slowly, and flex the foot. Extend the back and neck. Work with the other knee as well.
Exercise 1.87: From a squatting position. Sit back by putting the buttocks, controlled by the abdominals. Roll back and down, vertebra after vertebra, without ‘jumping’. Roll backwards with a rounded back, with neck and head towards the chest. Control the movement with the abdominal muscles. (This is the best preparation exercises for rolling on the floor).
Exercise 1.88: Pelvis tilt and spine bend: Lying on the floor, arms in a cross position, place the knees on the forehead, roll back and place the feet behind your head, legs extended. Bring the arms over your head, flex the feet and pull softly. Relax, descend the back (with abdominal control), legs high, stretch your feet, open the arms to the side again, the upper body falls forwards (caused by weight and impulse), and the head follows. Flex the body from the waist forwards, put the head onto the knees, stretch out the arms, and hold the toes with the hands.
Exercise 1.89: Split rolling backwards (culbute). Sitting, legs opened (maybe in split), rolling back, place the palms beside the ears, pull, and rise to your feet, put your neck on the floor, rolling back to the starting position.
Exercise 1.90: Worm movements forward (for flexibility of the spine). Lying prone on the floor, hands beside the chest, forehead on the floor. Flex the feet, drag your knees upwards a little, lift your pelvis and press the chest down, lift the chest, round it and press the pelvis down, head still kept down, press the chest down and lift the head, look upwards, lift the head, move the arms forwards a little (as much as you can while dragging the knees) and place your forehead again on the floor.
Exercise 1.91: Backwards worm movement. Put your hands beside your ears, lift your head in an arch and put your forehead on the floor, lifting and lowering the chest and pelvis, dragging the knees and extending the feet.
Exercises for coxo-femural articulation: exercises 1.92–1.100
Exercise 1.92: Sit with bent knees, one knee crossed over the other, bend the body forward. knees. Change side.
Exercise 1.93: Reclining fish. Lie on the floor with bent knees.
Exercise 1.94: Work on the split. Lie on the floor, close to a wall, in the split position. Use the weight of the legs.
Exercise 1.95: Turning the legs out from the hips. Lie on the floor, legs together, arms sideways. Extend the knees, point the feet (or flex them). Turn the legs from the hip a little inside, then turn them to the outside. (At the same time, both legs can be moved sideways and up as high as possible, towards the arms, with 8 turning in-and-out movements, with the entire leg and there after moving back with 8 turning in-and-out movements to the starting position).
Exercise 1.96: In a deep lunge forwards (one leg bends deep in the knee, the other leg extended behind) the back foot is flexed, and the back is in hyper-extension, letting the weight work on the articulations.
Exercise 1.97: ‘Harlequin exercise’ (see sketch). In this exercise the largest extensions of the body in space are practised, and worked on in the opening of the hips. The student should become aware of the lines of the body in space. The positions are:
- Harlequin right forward
- Lunge right forward
- Lying back (‘sunworshipper’) on the right side
- Switching directions to lying on the left side
- Lunging left foot forwards
- Harlequin left forwards
Exercise 1.98: ‘Harlequin exercise’: Hold a stick (a broomstick), as a weapon, in your arms outstretched over the head.
Exercise 1.99: ‘Harlequin exercise’ with breathing: Inhale through upward movements, and exhale in downward movements.
Exercise 1.100: ‘Harlequin-exercise’: Add three steps, forwards or back, for each movement.
Exercises for the hyperextension of the back: exercises 1.101–1.106
Exercise 1.101: Hyperextension of the back. Standing with arms upwards, beside the ears, fully extended. Bend the knees (push them forwards), push the pelvis forwards, with trunk, neck and head backwards, look at the hands, keeping the body weight forwards as much as possible.
Exercise 1.102: As per the previous exercise, sitting on the knees, arms extended over and a little behind the head, look at the hands (with palms upwards) and push the pelvis forwards.
Exercise 1.103: Large circles around the body. Start in the Eiffel Tower position. With an extended right arm and hand, led by the middle finger, make the largest possible circle outwards around the body, bending the spine forwards. Circle with the right arm twice to the inside. Repeat with both arms twice to the outside and twice to the inside.
Exercise 1.104: Standing upright, lift one leg with a bent knee, put your arms around the knee, pulling it towards the chest. Hold your balance.
Exercise 1.105: Knee sitting, bending the back forwards. Sitting on the left bent knee, with the right leg extended forwards and the toes pointed, bend the back forwards over this leg. Change to the other side.
Exercise 1.106: Press the back of the legs. Lying supine on the floor, pressing the pelvis downwards. Catch one ankle with both hands, and press it towards the buttocks. Change leg. Then catch both legs.
Preparation for high leg lifts and kicks – placing of the pelvis
Legs should be turned out (en dehors) at the hips, with knees and toes stretched. At first, it is not important to lift the legs high, but to keep the hips down and the pelvis in place. When this is assured, kick high with extended knees while pointing (or flexing) the foot.
High leg lifts and kicks exercises 1.107–1.113
Exercise 1.107: Kick straight forwards and up. Lying on the back, the arms sideways. Lift the right extended leg upwards and point the foot, press the vertebra towards to the floor (by the abdominal muscles.) Descend the leg again; lift the left leg, the right leg, the left leg, and then twice with both legs together, always controlling the back position. Repeat 8 times.
Exercise 1.108: Kick sideways-up. Lying on the back, arms sideways. Move the right extended leg, foot pointed, along the floor, towards the right arm by pressing the vertebrae to the floor and keeping the pelvis in place. Descend the leg and continue on the left side, right and left, both legs together 4 times again. Repeat 8 times.
Exercise 1.109: Kick to the outside. Lying on the back, arms sideways. Lift the right leg upwards, descend it to the right side and bring it alongside the other leg again.
Exercise 1.110: Kick to the inside. Lying on the back, arms sideways. Move the right leg along the floor to the side, lift it high in front of the body and descend again.
Exercise 1.111: Diagonal kick. Lying on the back, arms sideways. Lift the right leg high up, in the direction of the left ear.
For more advanced students, arm movements can be added.
Exercise 1.112: Standing in modified 4th position or ‘open position’, move the right bent leg forward, the back leg extended backwards with the heel lifted. Kick with the back leg from behind and forwards and up in the direction of your forehead at the same time the body rises and the front leg extends. Let the back leg relax and go back, deep into the starting position, and kick again, 8 kicks forward with the same leg. Then change leg by jumping and bringing the left leg forward and deep, with 8 kicks. (Later 3 kicks, change on the 4th kick. Alternatively, one kick, change leg on each kick.)
Exercise 1.113: Jibengong. Group exercise. Moving forward with a series of leg kicks, done together in the same rhythm. (The arms are held extended over the head, the thumbs crossed).
- Straight kicks
- Sideways kicks
- Kicks from inside to outside
- Kicks from outside to inside
- Diagonal kicks
- Backward kicks
Exercises for the inside of the legs 1.114–1.117
Exercise 1.114: Lying on the back, with heels close to the buttocks, wrists together: press legs and knees together with force.
Exercise 1.115: Standing in the tree position, place arms to the side and open the knees, bending them as deep as you can – the pelvis should stay in the middle! – and without lifting the heels from the floor (the system of the classical demi-plié), continue, lift the heels, and descend deeper. Return with the heels touching the floor again as soon as possible (grand plié).
Exercise 1.116: Diamond posture. Kneeling, feet stretched. Move the calves to the outside, toes flat and turned to the inside.
Exercise 1.117: Kabuki thread. Fasten a long thread to your big toe and keep the other end tensed between your teeth. Move forwards, backwards, sidewards, lift your leg, etc. The thread should never slacken and the spine must be kept erect.
Exercises for shoulders and arms 1.118–1.125
Exercise 1.118: Lying prone on the floor, arms vertical. Lift the right shoulder with a relaxed neck and realise how the head is turning to the other side. Lift the left shoulder. Lift both shoulders and let the head drag back.
Exercise 1.119: Arm swings and circles. Standing in a basic position, legs together. Swinging one arm to the front, the other to the back (involve the entire body by using the knees as impulse for the movements of the arms), prolongate each third swing into full circles, in the opposite direction. Find a sportive rhythm.
Exercise 1.120: Arm swings and circles as above, in slow motion.
Exercise 1.121: Sitting on the heels, back straight, and forehead to the floor, lift one arm after the other, then both arms. Lift the extended arms without changing position.
Exercise 1.122: Press-ups from kneeling position, hands in front of the knees. With a straight back, flex the arms and execute 8 press-ups. Increase the weight by moving the upper body forwards.
Exercise 1.123: Mace for gymnasts. Stand in an upright position, arms hanging to the side. Raise the right hand by bending the right elbow, bringing the palm close to the head, then go behind the neck with an impulse and stretch the arm up behind the head into the vertical. Drop the right arm and let it fall to the left side and bend it passively in front of the body, all in one flow, then turn the palm with an impulse again close to the head, and bring the hand actively again behind the head and stretch the arm. Practise with the right arm and left arm, as well as both arms together.
Development of the exercise: Start the movement with the right arm. When the arm is again falling passively to the side, the left arm has its active phase, and the hand goes behind the neck and stretches out. One arm is always active, the other passive. Find a sportive rhythm for the exercise.
If you do the movement in slow motion or very quickly, both arms must be active!
Exercise 1.124: The conductor. Starting in a tree position, describe big figures of eight with both arms in front of your body on both sides. The movement starts in the knees, then spreads to the body and the arms. When the movement grows bigger, the body starts balancing from right to left.
Exercise 1.125: As per the exercise above. From sportive movement to the maximum expansion, and further to balancing on one leg.
Diminish the movement gradually, of the eights from the sportive movement to a minimal movement of the arms, reducing it to moving only the hands and the balancing, while getting smaller and smaller, then only with the fingertips, and ultimately the movement is only in breathing and the memory of balancing. Take the movement up again with your fingertips and hands.
Exercises for wrists and hands 1.126–1.130
Exercise 1.126: As if painting the wall with a brush, vertically and horizontally. Stand in a tree position, with the right palm to the outside in front of the chest and the left hand with the palm inside. With a wrist movement, the right hand goes downwards, and the left hand upwards, like a brush. Give force to the wrist movements.
Exercise 1.127: Wrist circles. Stand in the chauk position (tree position with bent knees), with elbows lifted, hands 15 cm from the breasts. With palms up, circle with the wrists 48 times inside, 48 times outside. (With the wrists downwards, the movement is less effective).
Exercise 1.128: Open and close the fist. Open and spread all the fingers 48 times.
Exercise 1.129: From the fist, open and close the hand one finger at a time. Open the thumb and close the little finger first, then open the hand starting with the little finger and end with the thumb.
Variation: In the opening phase, the wrists is held downwards, and when closing the fingers it is held upwards.
Exercise 1.130: Prayer hands. Stand in a basic position, palms held together in front of the chest (or behind the back), and press the fingers together (important exercise for preparing the hands for manipulation in mime).
Exercises for the feet 1.131–1.136
Exercise 1.131: Lying on the back, with knees bent towards the chest, circle the ankles, 8 times inside, 8 outside.
Exercise 1.132: Lying supine as in exercise 130, (or sitting with a straight back, legs extended forward) point and flex the toes, also with flexed heels.
Exercise 1.133: Sitting on the floor as in the exercise above, execute wave movements with the feet, inside and outside.
Exercise 1.134: Sitting on the floor, try to spread the toes to the maximum by pushing the little toe outwards.
Exercise 1.135: While squatting, supported by the hands, push the heels down and bend the body forwards.
Exercise 1.136: Walking 8 steps on the spot, starting with the toes, 8 steps on the footer, 8 times on the heels, 8 times on the inner side of the foot. Repeat 4 times.
Exercises developing correct jumping 1.137–1.147
Exercise 1.137: Jump in a basic position on the spot, stretch the toes in the air, land rolling from the toes and put the heels on the floor. Jump 8 times, then jump 8 times in the tree position, in the parallel position, and in the chauk position.
Exercise 1.138: As per the previous exercise. Change position each second jump.
Exercise 1.139: As per the previous exercise (changing position), do a quarter-turn 4 times to the right after 3 jumps, then do 2 half-turns, and a full turn.
Exercise 1.140: 3 jumps frontal, half-turn, 3 jumps, half-turn, 4 three-quarter turns, 4 full turns. Repeat to the left.
Exercise 1.141: Jump from one leg to the other, and move through the space.
Exercise 1.142: Jumping from sole to sole with opened knees.
Exercise 1.143: Jumping from sole to sole, with the body to the side (saut de biche)
Exercise 1.144: Changing of feet (exercise from classical ballet (‘changement de pieds’). From the T position (or a modified 5th ballet position (backfoot pointe touches the heel of the front foot, angle of the feet at 45 degrees), do 24 jumps (body extended in the air!) and change legs after each jump (landing first on toes and then on the full foot!) No small jumps in between. Arms in front of the body, one hand crossed over the other, palms downwards.
Exercise 1.145: Jumping forwards and high on both legs, the legs bent in front of the body, knees turned out and lifted as high as possible, turned out, the feet touching.
Exercise 1.146: Run, jump by throwing one leg forwards, hear something behind you under the jump, turn in the hips and land ‘behind’ you (180-degree turn).
Exercise 1.147: The floor is burning is a Grotowskian jumping exercise, common in the 1960s and 1970s. The group members squat or lie on the floor. On the order ‘the floor is burning’, everybody jumps on both legs (knees high, over the flames!) with impulse sounds. (Ha). Try to animate partners and encourage them when they get tired. At the end, fall to the floor and relax. After a short ‘breathing break’ repeat 3–4 times.
The student searches for balance positions (on both legs or on one leg), goes to the limit, (or loses balance, is on the way to fall and regains balance, ‘freezes’ in the very last movement, or falls on the floor)
In balance exercises, the student should keep an eye focus – in front at about eye-hight.
Serial of small balance exercises in each body-posture given below, the student must find his points of balance, in poise, and fixing the eyes on a point in the space ahead, slightly above eye-hight. Add quiet, long exhalations! (These exercises can also function as warm-ups).
Warm up balance exercises 1.148–1.165
Exercise 1.148: Lying prone, lift legs, arms, neck, and head and keep balance.
Exercise 1.149: ‘The bow’. Lying prone, catch the ankles with your hands and pull your arms and bent legs upwards.
Exercise 1.150: Sitting on the floor, back straight, knees together and bent, arms around the knees. Lift the feet off the floor, move the arms to the side, keep the position without wobbling, and fix your eyes on a point in front of you.
Exercise 1.151: Sit with the knees together, lift both legs off the floor, move them to the side and the body weight to the left hip, keep your balance and hold, and then switch to the right hip, legs a little open, and find your balance point here.
Exercise 1.152: Sit with knees together, legs lifted off the floor. Stretch the legs and point the feet, open the legs in balance and bring the legs together again, bend the knees and lower the feet to the floor.
Exercise 1.153: Sit on your knees, spine straight, lift the right leg and move it to the right, change your weight to the left, come back, put the free right leg over the left thigh, sit on the knee, keep your balance, and practise on the left side.
Exercise 1.154: Squat, lift one leg to the side, keep it in balance, (arms sideways or crossed over the chest) keep the body immobile, cross the arms in front of the body.
Exercise 1.155: Impulse, unbalance, regain balance. Standing in a tree position, push the hips sideways with impulse, prolongate the moment of unbalance, and regain your balance step by step. Switch to the other side, and work forwards and backward.
Exercise 1.156: Falling having lost balance. Exercise as per above: prolongate the lost balance, ending the movement by falling to the floor.
Exercise 1.157: Gliding backwards to the floor. Standing, bending back and knees, extending the right arm, bending towards the floor, touching the floor with the edge of your hand and glide backwards until your arm rests fully on the floor.
Exercise 1.158: From the tree position. Keep the body stiff like a slab, then move the body balance forwards, backwards and to the sides.
Exercise 1.159: Jump up from kneeling. Roll back, knees to the forehead, put them beside the right ear, roll over and sit on both knees, then jump up to a squatting position (with the help of the arms).
Exercise 1.160: The sideways star. Start in the Eiffel Tower position, arms extended over the body. By lifting the right leg, bend the body as a block to the left, freeze, move back to the centre and then to the right.
Exercise 1.161: Sideways star with impulse. Same exercise as pre above, but after ‘freezing’ on the left side, bend the knees briefly to gain energy and move directly to the star on the other side, and then ‘freeze’.
Exercise 1.162: The forward star. From the Eiffel Tower position, arms outstretched upwards, look forwards, keep the body as a block, move one leg and the arms fully horizontal in a straight line from fingertips to toes, plié, stretch the knee again, go back to the starting position, and move to the other side.
Exercise 1.163: Move from horizontal star to the lateral star and back, both with stretched legs, or with the supporting leg in plié. Stretch the body out well. This exercise needs abdominal force.
Exercise 1.164: Harlequin sleeping. Stand in the harlequin position, place your front leg with bent knee close to your thigh, sit down (in a screw movement if possible) into a squatting position (Harlequin sleeping position) and raise yourself up again.
Exercise 1.165: From a position called ‘Victory of Samothrace’ (lunge forward, upper body with outstretched arms lengthening the line of the back leg), bend the upper body and arms into a horizontal position (straight line from heel to the fingertips), raise the back leg to a horizontal star, and back to the diagonal line of the victory of Samothrace.
Holding poses exercises 1.166–1.168
Exercise 1.166: Standing ‘hao’. Hold any good and demanding ending position for 5–20 minutes (Basic positions in half-plié, etc.) The following two poses from kalarippayaṭṭu:
Exercise 1.167: The elephant (gaja vadivu). Stand in a starting position, feet together. Turn the feet via the toes to the outside into the parallel position. The forearms touch each other, while the hands, in a fist with the thumb extended, are held at the height of the middle of the nose, about 10 cm from the face, which is raised upwards towards the ceiling. Bow down bending the knees, the ribs parallel to the thighs, the arms covering the chest.
Exercise 1.168: The horse: (Neeta kaal cavadu). Take a big step forwards with the left leg and bend the knee. The right leg is extended and turned out from the hip, while the whole sole touches the floor, with heels in line. The hands are placed on the right side of the left foot, fingertips in line with the toes. The arms are extended, the body rises, the head straight. The body makes a straight line from the heel to the neck.
Practising spins on the floor exercises 1.169–1.171
Exercise 1.169: Mermaid turn. Lie on your side in the mermaid position, on one hip, one arm sustaining the body bent upwards, and the other arm extended on the side. Move the joint legs a little backwards for a short otkas (upbeat), turn with extended legs halfway round via the front, move again on the hip to the other side, and ‘freeze’ like a mermaid.
Exercise 1.170: Mermaid full turn. In the mermaid position, take otkas with both legs, turn (via outstretched legs, first on the hip, over to the belly, with help of the hands) a full round, and end in the ‘mermaid pose’.
Exercise 1.171: Tourbillon. Start in the Mermaid position, take a good otkas and turn to the front, starting with outstretched legs, and quickly bending the knees close to the body (into a little package), and try to do several quick spins, turning on the buttocks. If you wish to stop, extend the legs quickly, and end in the mermaid position to the right or left, and ‘freeze’.
Falling exercises 1.172–1.176
Exercise 1.172: Falling after body tension. While standing, tense all muscles in the body. With a sudden release of tension, let yourself quickly fall to the floor.
Exercise 1.173: Gliding to the side on the arm rail. While kneeling, move your arm to the chest, close to the shoulder. With the outer edge of the hand, search the floor in a long angle, sideways (or diagonally). When the hand reaches the floor, glide on its outer edge, followed by shoulder and body. Glide as far as possible and relax. Practise the movement to the right and the left, first slowly and then later quickly, and with otkas on the opposite side.
Exercise 1.174: Gliding on the arm rail from a standing position. Same exercise as above from a standing position.
Exercise 1.175: Falling with a screw and full turn. Left foot forward in an open position (modified 4th position), knees slightly bent, start to move downwards in a screw, turning to the inside (to the right), and fall via the shoulders, the side of the upper body, hips and legs to the back, in a long angle, (without the knees touching the floor!) in a relaxed, full turn. The head is held in counterbalance to the opposite side. (Drop the energy successively downwards).
Exercise 1.176: Same exercise from a full standing position, with impulse in the shoulders (for the screw) and the knee (for falling) and in the turn to relax. Repeat slowly at first, then quicker and in one flow. Both to the right and the left side.