In level I and II, spine bends (and their isolations 1–9) were practised. In level III, they are practised further, with additions, and connected to breathing:

  1. Eclosion/declosion (opening and closing the body or body parts)
  2. Wave movements: natural, opposite, and sideways natural and opposite
  3. Inclinations (bends), with isolations forwards/backwards, sideways to the right and left
  4. Rotations (twists), with isolations, to the right and left
  5. Horizontal translations, with isolations, forwards, backwards, sideways to the right and left
  6. Double and triple designs (combinations of the movements mentioned above)
  7. Pendulum movements (culippu, mixed movement)
  8. Acquis (partial body blocks) as per the angles of the body: neck-head, head-chest, chest-pelvis, pelvis-legs[210])
  9. Body blocks
  10. Pivots and turns
  11. Jumps and leaps
  12. Bhaṅgi and tribhaṅgi (aesthetic bends) as poses (see sketch Movement analysis II )
Eclosion–declosion exercises 3.24–3.25

Exercise 3.24: Repeat the classical opening/closing (eclosion-declosion) with the three breathing phases.

Exercise 3.25: Use the system of eclosion/declosion for other body parts: From the closed hand, open all fingers in one: inhale shortly and lightly, opening the hand, closing it in one long expiration. Breathing phase and movement start and end together. All parts of a movement simply start and end together, fully coordinated[211]. First decide the starting point and the ending point of the movement, and coordinate the breathing thereafter.

Wave movements

Wave movements are the opposite of opening-closing movements:

The movement starts in a particular body part and spreads, affecting other parts of the body successively, as studied in level I.

Wave exercises 3.26–3.32

Exercise 3.26: Repeat the four wave movements.

Exercise 3.27: Waves of other body parts. From the tree position, natural waves, reverse waves of shoulder(s), arm(s), wrist(s) and finger(s), leg, ankle(s) and toes.

Exercise 3.28: Try out waves starting from different body positions such as lying, kneeling, squatting, etc.

Exercise 3.29: Do the natural waves with imaginary impulses.

Exercise 3.30: Application of the natural wave: A very tired walk. You push yourself.

Exercise 3.31: Application of the natural wave freely pushing. Start a quarrel with a partner, be pulled, react to each push with a natural wave, to regain balance. Or lose your balance and fall.

Exercise 3.32: Application of the natural wave: Moving into the lake. Moving in water requires more energy than moving in air. If the water reaches ankle height, push with the ankles. At knee height, push with the knees (wave movement!). At pelvis height, with an impulse from the pelvis, and at chest height, with impulse in the chest. If you go further, you must start to swim. This is the technical side of the task. Perhaps it also helps to imagine, or to remember, a lake, the temperature of the water, feeling the pebbles, stones or sand with your feet, the colour of the lake, the sounds, smells, etc.

The reverse wave exercises 3.33–3.37

Exercise 3.33: Repeat the reverse wave in a continuous flow, without stops.

Exercise 3.34: The ages of the human body. Repeat the four steps of the reverse wave, studied in level I.

Lecoq derived the basic characters from the commedia dell’arte from the reverse wave:

 Leading body partCentre of gravityCharacters of the commedia dell’arte
 The childHead and sensesBehindzanni (servants as) Arlecchino and Tartaglia, and other childish and naïve characters
The heroChest – centre of emotionPerfectly in line, on the balls of the feetcapitano, youngsters, innamorati (lovers)
The bourgeoisBellyOn the heelscynics as Dottore, also Brighella, the second servant
The old manKnees, physical problems, stiffnessThe kneesvecchi, old people, as Pantalone or Brighante
Lecoq derived the basic characters from the commedia dell’arte from the reverse wave

Exercise 3.35: Dramatic application of the two sideways waves[212]:

Exercise 3.36: Repeat the sideways waves, natural and reversed, with flow of movement.

Understand the difference between the two waves (led by the head – more intellectual way to observe, from the pelvis and the legs – a more spontaneous way to see the picture.)

Exercise 3.37: Application of sideways waves: To look at a picture at an exhibition. The natural wave gives the impression of looking at a painting in a naïve and spontaneous way – with the entire body, the reversed sideways wave is the opposite: It gives the impression of looking at the painting in a more intellectual way – ‘with the head’.

The bends of the spine and their isolations

Most of the isolation techniques were developed by Etienne Decroux and his students.

In level I, movements of the spine were studied globally, and in level II they were practised with isolations. In level III, these movements are applied. Decomposition of movement – to move one body part without affecting another – enables movement to be as precise as a puppet on a string. Without this technique, mime is not a professional art. The techniques of Etienne Decroux and Jingju reach this level!

The movable segments of the spine are: (eyes) – neck – head – chest – waist – pelvis – (legs).

The techniques of bends (inclinations), rotations and translations, were basically studied in flow in level I, and as isolations in level II. The isolation exercises ‘deal with the fight between the active element (the movable concentration point) and the passive element (the spinal column)[213]. For mime technique, each part of the body is inclined without affecting other body parts. The rest of the body makes no compensatory movement. Each movement stands for itself. This results in total control of movement[214].

Bend exercises 3.38–3.46

Forward and backward bend of the spine

Exercise 3.38: Repeat forward and backward bends step by step, with isolations.

Exercise 3.39: Repeat sideways bends step by step, with isolations.

Exercise 3.40: Repeat rotations (torsions) of the spine as isolations (ca. 45% to the right and to the left). The spinal column stays vertical. The travelling of pelvis and legs to the right (by bending the right knee and extending the left leg).

Exercise 3.41: Counter-rotations (twists) with travelling of the pelvis to the right (left leg extends), counter-torsion to the left. Counter-torsion of the head to the right.

Exercise 3.42: Repeat translations of the spine to the right and left.

Decroux developed two interesting ways to translate eyes and neck

Exercise 3.43: Liane: Movement head-eyes: Fix the eyes onto a spot in front of you. Translate the head to the right, the glance stays to the front. Finally, move the eyes to the right.

Exercise 3.44: Serpent: Movement eye-head: The opposite of the exercise above. The eyes move first from the centre to the right side, followed by the head translation to the right.

Exercise 3.45: kathakaḷi-look: The head is kept straight. Head and eyes start on the right diagonal. Move the eyes and the head together from right to left, with about seven ‘saccades’ of the eyes. (On each ‘saccade’ (after a tiny movement with the head), push the pupils forward, so as to spread light). Eyes and head arrive on the left diagonal, ‘hold’ the glance and move the neck (four small rotations) to the right and to the left (as if saying: no! surprise, wonderful).

Rotations, counter-rotations, double and triple designs and combining inclinations, rotations and translations. If you decide on an angle – for example a sideways bend of the head or rotation of the torso to the left, this is called a double design. If thisangle is kept in place’ and you move the rest of the body without changing it, it is called an acquis.[215] If you keep two or three bends, rotations, translations, etc, you have a triple design.

Exercise 3.46: Invent and practise double and triple designs.

Note! All the spine movement exercises must be practised seriously and very precisely in order to be able to advance in mime.

Pendulum movements

Pendulum movements are fluent combinations of wave movements, rotations and bends[216]

Exercise 3.47: Repeat the pendulum movements described for level II body education.

Partial and complete body blocks

Body block exercises 3.48–3.67

Exercise 3.48: Lift both heels off the floor, rise to demi-pointe (do not change the body position), and lower the heels again.

Exercise 3.49: Body blocks: In any body pose, change the body weight, and walk or turn without changing the body position.

Exercise 3.50: The elevator. From any position, with a body block, descend into a deep plié (with lifted heels at the end)[217]. Rise again.

Exercise 3.51: Do the two above exercises with your body weight on one leg.

The metronome

Exercise 3.52: The metronome. (See sketch). With the body welded together in a block in the tree position, the feet steadily on the floor, the pelvis well-placed, move in block to the right and back to the centre, then to the left side and back, and as well forwards and backwards. The exercise can be done with straight or bent knees.

Japanese exercises

Exercise 3.53: Japanese exercises (See sketch). From the Eiffel Tower or Samurai positions, stand a frozen slab. The right heel lifts, the foot straightens. The body bends to the left, stops and ‘freezes’, and turns back to the middle. To the other side as well.

Into the grave

Exercise 3.54: ‘Into the grave’[218]. (See sketch). From standing in tree position, keeping a straight line from knees to neck, bend the knees, and bend the body block straight backwards (like a plank!) with feet flexed.

Exercise 3.55: The star exercises: From the Eiffel Tower position: Work with a straight, extended body (arms to the fingertips extended over the head). Start by ‘lying’ the body to the right side, lift the right leg (the distance of the two legs kept the same, as fixpoint), return. The exercise can also be done by augmenting the balance position: Lift the weighted leg on the ball of the feet.

Exercise 3.56: Arabesque: start from the tree position, body straight, arms extended over the head as in the previous exercise. Bend the upper body forward from the waist without losing the pose (lift the left leg behind, straight line from toe to fingertips. (Control the position of the pelvis!) If you bend the upper body down further, the leg must be lifted higher to maintain the line.

Exercise 3.57: Starting in the star position, move the body to one side, (plié of the supporting leg) and take a big step to the other side, putting the foot with the extended leg firmly on the floor, as still as block, and balancing to the other side into plié.

Exercise 3.58: Body block with acquis. Bend the head or the knees and keep it in acquis when you move the block.

Exercise 3.59: Samurai exercise: move with body block in the samurai position, adding turns and steps.

Exercise 3.60: Body block with one loose joint. Balancing forward, sideways and rotating as well. By loosening the knee joint, you can step into any direction, mechanising your walk, for example with stiff legs and basin, relaxed tronc or vice versa, as a puppet or a robot.

Exercise 3.61: One leg moves to the hip, with the rest of the body in block. From the tree position, tilt the body forwards and back, and pivot one hip joint forwards and back. With this movement the walk can be mechanised (toy soldier, robot)[219]. By sideways tilts and turns there are further possibilities for the robot walk.

Exercise 3.62: Montanaro’s robot[220]: The ankles and knees of a cheap robot do not bend. It slides its feet across the floor. The front leg of the walk is isolated, and the back leg advances in front. Each body part has its own movement rhythm, and each movement ends with a dry accent.

Exercise 3.63: Keeping the plank in front. Start in the position of the ‘Victory of Samothrace’ (lunge forward, with torso and arms in prolongation of the back leg). Move the upper body and the arms (in acquis) forwards, and the back leg upwards, to a horizontal ‘plank’. Relax first only the arms (keep the rest of the body in position!), then the head, the back leg and lastly the trunk. Regain the horizontal ‘plank’ again, in one movement.

Exercise 3.64: Head and neck in acquis (Practise forward, backward and sideways) bends. Move the rest of the body freely.

Exercise 3.65: Head and chest in acquis. (Practise from rotations) Sit down and rise again.

Exercise 3.66: Triple design: Example: Rotation to the right, bend to the left and bend forwards.

Exercise 3.67: Invent further acquis positions and mix bends, rotations and translations into double and triple designs.

Pivots and turns

Pivots are turns, with the feet only minimally lifted from the tree position.

Pivot exercises 3.68–3.75
Pivot descending a la Decroux

Exercise 3.68: Pivot descending a la Decroux. (See sketch).

  1. Cross the ball of the right foot over the left.
  2. Rise on toes (toes in line) and turn to the left.
  3. When the left foot arrives behind, lift it and bend the knee, and descent to sit on the right knee.
  4. The left foot now stays in front of the right.

Exercise 3.69: The pedestal: Practise pivoting with a straight spine to the right and the left, with a half-turn, a three-quarter-turn and full turns as below.

Exercise 3.70: Whirling dervish. Stand in the basic position, lift the right leg over the left and turn on the ball of the right foot to the left and continue. The arms are rounded, the right hand with palms up towards the energy of the sky. The left arm is held with the palm downwards. The head is bent to the right.

Exercise 3.71: Pivot with acquis: Acquis neck-head-chest, (to the side or forwards). Continue with a pivot.

Exercise 3.72: From samurai position, turn the blocked body (arms and head in acquis), one-quarter of the way round, half-round, three-quarters-round, and all the way round.

Exercise 3.73: As in the previous exercise, combining the turns with steps forward, and jumps to achieve extreme balance.

The following exercise is from classical ballet. Consult a classical dancer if you want to dive deeper into pirouettes.

Exercise 3.74: A simple turn to the outside (en dehors), starting in an open position (a modified fourth position from classical ballet), right leg in front, bend both knees, hips turned out, push the weight forward and rise to the right demi-pointe, the left leg lifted, the top touching the right leg at the ankle (or knee height) using the energy from the push-up and the movement of the leg for the turn from the hip, then make a full turn backwards via the left side, putting the left foot in front and turn to the right. (The arms help with the turn: Left arm in second position, right arm in first position, and when the turn starts, move the left arm into first position.

Exercise 3.75: Turn to the inside. From the same starting position as above, rise on demi-pointe on the right leg, extend the left leg in a 45-degree angle and bend it quickly back to the right foot, and turn forwards and then to the right. (Arm movement: right arm in first position, left arm in second position. When the turn starts, move the left arm into first position).