Expressive Body: An Essential Tool For An Actor

Your body is a temple to the art of expression. To earn a greater connection with it, understand the fundamentals of the expressive body acting here.

-Ekalavya Dev

January 13, 2023

The body is one of the most important instruments actors work with daily. However, you don’t need to be actor to understand your body. We all use our bodies for different functions – when at home, our body is different compared to when we go outside to work. At all times, our body is our permanent companion – with a language and voice of its own.

For the purposes of this article, we will zoom into why having an expressive body is beneficial to an actor.

Why is having an Expressive Body important for an actor?

How we communicate with our body says a lot about us as human beings. An expressive body is important for an actor for many reasons:

  • Acting involves engaging the whole body – Even if it is only your face on camera, your whole body needs to be engaged in order to act. Good actor training focuses on the whole instrument: the mind, voice and body. Expressive body training will help you convey your character’s intentions with your body, not just the words you speak.
  • Movement training frees your body – As an actor, it is important you embody your character physically, not just emotionally and mentally. That’s where movement training helps. It helps you identify patterns in your body, become aware of your posture and movement. It allows you to make intentional choices for your character, instead of you simply “winging it”.
  • It helps you emote better – Like how voice training helps you voice better, expressive body training will help you emote better through your physicality. There is a lot that can be conveyed through gestures, body language, and movement. Only when the actor has released their inhibitions to develop a deeper connection with the body, that the audience will be able to access the emotional life of the character.
  • Expands your imagination – As you become more comfortable with your body and inculcate an awareness around it, this expressive body helps push the boundaries of your imagination. It allows you to trust your body and surprise yourself in finding new ways to move, ways you might not have thought of.

How can you train your body to be expressive?

Here are some things you can do help your body become more expressive:

  • Observe your body – The key to this is to observe your body, not try to ‘change’ or ‘correct’ it. Wherever you are, bring your attention to different parts of your body: How does your feet feel on the floor? How does your neck feel today? How do your eyeballs feel in your sockets today? Observing your expressive body will help establish a deeper connection with it.
  • Work on your body’s strength, endurance, and flexibility – You need energy and vitality for expressive acting. When you’re active physically, your body feels more energised. To make your body more expressive, working on your core strength, endurance and body flexibility will help you become more agile.
  • Explore different movement forms – There are many movement training forms that can help you such as kalarippayattu, chhau, yoga, Tai Chi, dance, Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, Viewpoints, Suzuki Method, Meyerhold’s Biomechanics, Laban’s Movement Analysis and many more. Each movement form or expressive body art technique opens up the body in different ways and helps you access different parts of your character’s physicality and emotional psyche.

Want to learn more about how to master expressive acting through Expressive Body training? You can sign up now for our course ‘Expressive Body’ with actor, dancer and theatre practitioner Lakshika Pandey!

Ekalavya: Act, Create, Communicate

India’s best online acting and theatre training platform, an initiative of Drama School Mumbai (DSM). DSM is one of the best acting and theatre schools in India. At Ekalavya, all the courses are designed and delivered by highly trained DSM faculty and industry professionals. Currently available courses are Breaking Open Characters, Mastering Monologues, Expressive Voice and Speech, Art of Auditioning and Expressive Body.

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