The Halprin Method/Motional Processing/Life Art Process is considered a movement-based expressive arts modality. In the process, movement is used as an exploration device for body parts, themes, drawings and scripts. Movement takes what begins on the inside and gives it an avenue to the outside. Movement in the process uses exploration and experimentation as the basis of understanding a body part, script, theme or concept. (Rutkowski, 1984)
At its core, movement is used as an examination of an idea or structure through the use of space, time, and force. Through Movement Ritual (a structured sequence of movements that increases awareness of movement, range of motion, flexibility, and serves as a foundation for creative movement explorations), the breath, track – trace – pace, and other methods alone or in combination, participants move to explore and clarify. People, of course, can use any technique that they already know. For instance, I often used tai chi and yoga as a basis for movement explorations.
One process in movement exploration is the creative exploration of movement patterns, and the interrelationship between psychological and physiological processes. For instance, one may explore the spine and the relationship it has to the idea of strong and weak. By moving beyond the constraints of verbal processes, a healing connection can be facilitated on the most primal level, that being body. That exploration my be taken to the level of healing at some point. Wounding is recorded in the body, healing must also take place through the body.
There is an element of movement analysis within the process. By movement analysis I mean the noticing of structural aspects of movement on a purely physical level. It is the understanding of one’s own placement or axis in relation to the surroundings and others around you. As awareness is increased often one may notice the patterns that emerge when doing a movement process.
One method of working with movement patterns while exploring them is to make them more and then make them less. This experience of contracting and releasing on a conscious level is a way of establishing voluntary control. In doing this action one ties the voluntary part of the self to the reflexive part of the self. This voluntary control is a way to dramatize a postural contraction voluntarily and thus disorganize it, inhibit it, and undo it.
For instance in a previous post I mentioned I did a movement exploration where I challenged my patterns by first repeating them and than adding new movements. I switched back and forth between the old and the new. I was creating a new way of being within the same old mold. One can even take this to a more connected level. In working with angry arms during one workshop, I noticed that I always put them on my hips as an expression of anger. After some discernment with writing, drawing and movement, I realized that this is the posture of anger that one of my parents used. I took this ‘hands on hip pattern’ and made it bigger and than made it smaller and explored the in-between of these differing postures. I used this process to find a new way of standing with my arms in anger that was my own and that reflected who I was as an individual, incorperating the past and present.
Reformation of the self and movement patterns is an act of exaggeration and establishes a connection between the voluntary function and the non-voluntary function (between body and mind). To go to the edges and to dramatize more is a way of beginning to insert voluntary parts into the pattern of behavior, both motor and mind. Doing this exaggeration in the exploration begins to give a range for refining voluntary reflex gestures. Being able to consciously recreate and be in reflexive movement patterns begins to give the sense of overcoming the helplessness of being victim to your unconscious process, your own reflex patterns. All patterns have a structure and that structure is revealed through exaggeration, in doing it more and doing it less (Keleman, 1988).
Rutkowski, A. (1984). Thesis: Development, definition and demonstration of the Halprin Life/Art Process in Dance Education. Unpublished doctorial dissertation, John F. Kennedy University.
Keleman, S. (1988). Patterns of Distress : Emotional Insults and Human Form. Center Press.
Reprinted from my unpublished manuscript: Renewal and Rediscovery of the Self in the Life Art Process: 20 years as participant, assistant and facilitator. By Richard Brunner R-DMT. Copy write 2006.