British Movement Directors

Tashkiran, Ayse (2016) British Movement Directors. In: The Routledge Companion to Jacques Lecoq. Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 227-235. ISBN 9781138818422


A movement director works as part of a creative team on the physical life of a production. That might entail creating a movement language or choreography or movement training with actors. Movement direction is a vibrant, ever-growing practice in British theatre, as well as in opera and film. This practice has a longstanding connection to Lecoq's pedagogy, and this chapter traces a lineage of movement direction from an early Lecoq-trained practitioner, Claude Chagrin, to the present -day practices of four movement directors. They also trained at the Lecoq School in Paris and are currently movement directing in a range of mainstream theatre settings in Britain. I will be referring to conversations with Joseph Alford, Joyce Henderson, Toby Sedgwick, and to my own movement direction practice.

When researching the roots of movement direction in 2009, I stumbled across a set of rehearsal photographs for the 1964 production of 'Royal Hunt of the Sun' in the archives at the National Theatre. They show a movement person, Claude Chagrin, on the rehearsal room floor demonstrating movements that look like positions of 'le passer', capturing the diagonally extended arms of actors wielding imaginary poles. The next image is of actors with knees bent, centre lowered in a wide-legged stance. Perhaps because of my own background with Lecoq, I was able to recognise across five decades a developing movement language, anchored in the Lecoq training, on the rehearsal floor os a seminal National Theatre production. I will draw on several evidences as I look at Chagrin's work, but I will first start by briefly setting the context for postwar movement direction and then use an analysis of current practices to illustrate some commonalities between movement directors who share Lecoq in their training.


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