Expressive Movement

Posture and Action in Daily Life, Sports, and the Performing Arts

by Alexandra and Roger Pierce

(Da Capo Press, 1991) To order from ($22.50), click here.



Chapter 1. Movement Expresses Values

“We humans take pride in being able to shape ourselves and our destinies, presumably in the light of a basic form which we sense to be true of ourselves. Yet we are surprisingly careless about examining what this innate form actually is; a cursory scan around a roomful of people yields sufficient evidence that we often mold ourselves into shapes that violate our nature. Looking at ourselves from the perspective of movement—of action in the most down-to-earth sense—provides a simple and accessible opportunity to ponder our natural form and then true our behavior to it so that we more accurately express who we are.”

Chapter 3. Lifted by Gravity

“Before his experiences with weight, if Josh had been asked to name the opposite of “tension,” his answer would have been “relaxation,” a term which to him implied being laid back. But he came to see that “weight” would be another appropriate answer, and that released weight contributes to the vigor and commitment of action as well as to fullness of rest.

Chapter 4. Balance

“Immersed as we are in the earth’s gravitational field, we cannot help but respond to it. Will we choose to be lifted by its vertical thrust through our bodies? Or will we let it drag on us? Or will we withhold ourselves rigidly from its benefits? Full stature, with its delicacy and power of action, depends on whether we center our physical structure close to the vertical axis by aligning head, chest, abdomen, pelvis, legs, and feet along the force vector of gravity that plunges down through us.”

Chapter 5. In Two Nutshells

    “Another voice spoke up. ‘Do you really mean that an ideal is operating here?’

    ‘Yes,’ answered Thomas, ‘and hopefully a truer one than the ideal of stiff good posture. Instead of ideal we might use a more neutral word like structure, suggesting that there is, objectively, an inherent design to the musculoskeletal system and that when we know what it is, we can allow it to function optimally. But there is more to our design than its efficiency: there is its capacity for expressiveness. When we move, we show what we care about, where we choose to focus our energies. People with back pain may begin to see the need to examine and transform the values being expressed in their movement. For example, if a man habitually struts arrogantly, rigidifying his spine, this way of identifying himself may lie behind the tension that generates the pain.

Expressive Movement Table of Contents

                    Movement Expresses Values


                    Lifted by Gravity


                    In Two Nutshells



                    Generous Movement

                    Core Support: Mobilizing Strength

                    Reverberation: Letting Action Through

                    Phrase: Clarifying Action