Accepted Paper:

Prescriptive and improvisational movement in wellbeing.  


Krzysztof Bierski (Durham University)

Paper short abstract:

In order to appreciate the healing dimension of movement, we could distinguish between therapeutic and improvisational approaches. While the former focus on form and measurable effects, the latter emphasise process, attention and care. In practice, however, any healing movement is artful or skilled.

Paper long abstract:

Prescriptive understanding of movement, which guides physical rehabilitation or dance therapy, relies on the Aristotelian hylomorphic assumption that, in creative processes, a form (morpē-) preconceived in advance is imparted upon the malleable matter (hulē) of the body. As such, the therapeutic approach is guided by the logic of choice whereby movements are selected according to their perceived observable effects.

The emphasis in improvisational movement, meanwhile, focuses on process, exploration and direct experience. To improvise is to allow the movement to carry on, ongoing like life itself, and to cultivate attention and care. Improvisation recalls a practice of growth or ontogenesis, that is, the 'dynamic self-organisation of developmental systems' (Ingold 2013: 9).

Drawing on movement research with practices such as Gaga movement vocabulary and contact improvisation, we shall explore how the healing/wholeness in improvisational movement, involves shedding judgment and expectation, as well as bringing together thought, breath, and sensation. In the lifeworld that emerges thereby, attention starts to flow unfettered and attitudes such as curiosity, patience, safety or acceptance are cultivated.

As therapeutic movement also entails similar attitudes, as well as attention and care, it could be suggested that healing emerges not as an effect of a particular technique but, rather, as/in skilled or artful practice.

Using simple tasks such as 'opening' and metaphors such as 'rooting', we shall practically consider how skilled movement, and attitudes that grow with it, issue forth not as properties of individual organisms but in their social, that is, ecological relations.

Panel P020
Making, Materials and Recovery: Perspectives "from the inside"