This is a book about human movement. EveryBody Is A Body is a book intended for everyone, whether you are an athlete, a person who tries to avoid moving, or someone who generally gives their movement little thought. Movement is a fundamental fact of our existence, so much so that we lose awareness of its pervasive nature.
This book is not a “how to” book. We are not advocating a specific movement technique or practice. Rather, it is about re-discovering that you are (whether you believe it or not), in fact, a mover. We are always feeling, sensing, creating, connecting and transforming through movement. This book is free of exercise regimens, health recipes or rules for movement. It is about bringing to your conscious attention that which is largely unconscious. It is about recognizing and experiencing yourself through movement.
We are used to thinking of movement only in particular domains, such as sports, fitness and child development. Books on movement reflect our thinking in this way. There are countless books dedicated to particular sports. There are books on the science of movement: kinesiology, motor development and anatomy/physiology. There are books on the art of movement: theater and dance. There are books on specialized movement practices such as yoga, Pilates and martial art forms. There are even books on “body language”, recognizing the power and potential of nonverbal communication.
There are relatively few books, however, that address the ubiquitous nature of movement that connects us all – from Olympic athletes to couch potatoes, from operatic singers to singers in the shower, from the physical laborers of Main Street to the CEOs of Wall Street. For everybody, movement is the basis of functional and expressive life.
Having been engaged in the process of writing this book, and now with the second edition, we continue to appreciate the reasons why so few books on the big picture of human movement exist. We have discovered that trying to verbalize something that is non-verbal is hugely challenging. More importantly, trying to address the omnipresent nature of movement is like asking a fish to describe the water in which he is swimming! When we started this process, we also fell into a niche of writing about a movement specialization. As teachers in a specialized program for analyzing human movement, we began by writing what we felt was a much-needed textbook. Our initial efforts were to create an overall text of the theory and practice of the Laban/Bartenieff Movement System (LBMS)*
In our efforts to write that text, over and over again, we found ourselves asking, why is LBMS known to so few? In attempting to answer that question, we bumped up against another – why is it so difficult to describe the field of movement study to those who have never heard of it? As we considered these questions, we began to realize that the answer could be found in the fact that movement is the foundation of life.
Because movement is so basic, pervasive and ephemeral, we lose conscious awareness of it. Moreover, contemporary culture reinforces this loss of movement awareness. As technology expands, so too does disembodiment. Advanced technology is designed to remove us from body experience as we rely upon machines to do more and more physical work, and as we increasingly connect in the virtual environments of the Internet and Artificial Intelligence. While the upside of this is obvious, there is an alarming downside. As areas of human endeavor become increasingly specialized, human movement becomes more diminished and compartmentalized. The result of this is a disconnection from one’s body, and by extension, disconnection from one’s physical existence. This in turn leads to discomfort, a sense of not feeling comfortable in one’s own skin, and can progress to actual chronic pain syndromes and “dis-ease”.
We hope this book brings awareness of the greater Body of Knowledge that is human movement and provides individuals with increased awareness of the power and potential of their own movement. We want all our fellow movers to experience the pleasure and ease of the moving body. This is a book for every body. We all move. All of the time. This has meaning. It is vitally important not to lose touch with our moving selves.
Books on specific movement applications tell just a piece of the story. Texts on kinesiology and fitness focus on the functional aspects of movement. Books on movement for actors and body language focus on expressive aspects. In recent years, many books have appeared that address aspects of somatic practices. Somatic practice is based on the philosophy that Body/Mind/Spirit are interconnected, and encourages the process of self-exploration through body awareness. However, books on somatics are generally written for a population that already has some investment and experience in the field. The readers these books tend to attract include movement therapists, movement educators, “hands on” healers or students who are already steeped in knowledge of movement. However, such books can be off-putting for much of the general population, who may find the material out of their comfort zone. We hope to make consciousness of movement accessible to everyone while avoiding the pitfall of writing too simplistically.
Words alone are inadequate to express fully the experience that is movement. Poets and philosophers have bravely tried to grapple with this – but very few others! While it is difficult to describe movement through language, paradoxically our language reveals the pervasiveness of movement. The primary way in which language does this is through metaphor based on the experience of the body. To illustrate just how commonplace body metaphors are, throughout the text we have highlighted them in red (as we did above with the metaphor Body of Knowledge.) In addition to connecting language and movement, and because this is a book about movement, throughout the book we encourage the reader to experience simple movements that illustrate the concepts we discuss. These experiences are highlighted in blue and are labeled “Try This”. Don’t worry! These “Try This” directions are easily accomplished, even while reading the book.
As professionals in the field of movement, the authors not only teach in the LBMS training programs, we work with students and clients in a variety of contexts to enhance and optimize their individual movement potential. Our work ranges from alleviating stress and chronic pain, to facilitating public speaking, to improving the technique of dancers and athletes, to working with movement researchers. In all these contexts, we seek to assist the individual in becoming aware of habitual movement patterns and preferences. We draw from our backgrounds as dancers, educators, movement analysts and somatics practitioners. We believe the moving self reflects the Whole self. Although humans share the same design and basic anatomy, each body is also individually unique. EveryBody expresses who they are functionally, intellectually and emotionally through movement. Our moving selves reflect the culture in which we were raised, our values, our upbringing, and the tools we choose to navigate through the world. Even people with physical limitations move. A person with severe arthritis still uses movement both functionally and expressively. Choosing when, how, and even if to move reveals something about the nature of each individual.