Saturday, Sep 23rd 2017

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4. Geometrical Ecstasy

The perfect square has no corners. -- Lao Tsu

The mime is the geometrical human being in darkness. Without using her eyes she must know his line of movement and stay true to that line. She must also know the alignment of her body and its parts. She must see the form she wishes to create from within and project it with her body clearly. Only then can an audience experience her thought.

A mime does what mathematicians have been trying to do for all time: she actually squares the circle and circles the square. The rational is represented by the square. The circle represents intuition and feeling. To square the circle means to be rational, but with feeling. The body can do this both physically and non-physically. In mime, intellect marries intuition. The marriage or integration must be totally harmonious if it is to bear fruit.

We have a tendency to go to extremes. To circle the square we must have moderation. When a bell swings to its extremes, we hear a loud "bong, bong, bong." Only when it makes a tiny little swing in the middle do you hear a beautiful, subtle sound. This is the delicacy a mime achieves physically.

Like Euclidean geometry, the geometry of being has two axes, the horizontal and the vertical. Most of us take the verticality of our bodies for granted. We take for granted the steady horizontality of the floor where our feet are planted. We must take the most taken-for-granted things in life and study them. Mime allows us to see the axes and lines of our bodies.

Sometimes we use sticks to study line. A stick is like a fence. It gives you a geometrical line to move around. Although we do many exercises with the stick, we don't actually use it. We use the body. In a mime piece, a stick becomes an object out side ourselves. It can be a sword, an umbrella, a shovel, a door, a staff, a toothbrush, a fence. It can be anything. We can work, fight, love, and play with the stick. The task is to make the stick invisible, to make it disappear. By seeing the physical line of the stick we can see the non-physical line of our being, our double. It is the movement that happens around the stick that should be seen.

Any movement we do with one part of the body can be paralleled with a simultaneous opposite motion in another part. In pulling ropes, for example, the hands make one distinct geometrical line as they pull the rope across the body, and the pelvis moves in the opposite direction making a second line parallel to the first. The second line shows the motion of the body in relation to the rope. The movement is not just lines, but also the friction of those lines in opposition. Balance is the two opposites at work, pulling and pushing.

There are parallels all over the body: two legs, two arms, ribs, two lips, shoulders, nostrils, feet, toes, eyes. We see parallels everywhere we look railroad tracks, walls, ceilings, floors, relationships, trees in the forest, traffic on the high way. Without parallels, nothing would exist.

Every movement has a line, a breath and a center. The effect of your breath flowing though the moving part of the body is like the effect of wind on a leaf.

Our own center is like the center of a circle. It is the place where we know where we are. It is reality. It is the place we go out from and return to. When you know the center of a movement or where that movement originates, you can visualize the line that extends as the continuation of the movement. Thus, what appears to be linear reveals its natural non-linear quality . Wherever you stand, wherever you go is a center.

A mime artist has to be as sensitive as the antennae of a snail. When a snail senses sweetness it comes quickly with its slow, fluid motion. When it actually touches something it withdraws gently. The part that senses goes out and comes back into itself, as though taking back its breath. It has a rhythm that continues, echoing in space. The human body can learn to do this too, if it wants to. Lips that want to kiss will pull a head and neck toward another pair of lips. They anticipate the touch, kiss the space, and retract, withdrawing along the line of approach. Thus, by touching, one is touched. We don't have the patience or the resistance to stay in the transition. The snail can teach us to stay in the transit. If you learn the snail technique, you can write poetry with your body.

The snail doesn't work against nature, but with it. We don't imitate the snail, but we do try to learn from her ways. Here, our way of teaching mime is to return to nature. For ex ample, a falling feather can teach you the way of the spiral. The spiral is the geometry of ecstasy. It is doing the circle step by step. All harmonious movements have a circularity about them. Nature is respectful to the circular. A circle reflects nature's cycles.

The body has its own laws, its own consciousness, and its own geometry. It is an architectural form balanced and weighted. It is a structure very like a building, filled with tubes of all kinds that carry fluids, air, impulses and information . To be sure that the body's laws are experienced and learned, they have to be practiced. Observe, understand, and practice a law until it becomes yours. The intelligence that learns passes the information on to the one in you that knows. Geometrical ecstasy is conscious and controlled. It means being aware of lines, circles, avenues, and corridors of space. It means skilled delicacy. It means no random movement. That is geometry.

"Samuel brings awareness to the soul of people and gives the artists who work under his direction the need, dedication, and love for the world of silence and the beautiful art of movement."


- Marcel Marceau, BIP 1961

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Le Centre Du Silence
P.O. Box 745
Lafayette, CO 80026

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About LCDS

LCDS is an independent school for self-discovery through the human Arts.  The school offers seminars and workshops teaching the concepts of Theater, Mime, and Movement.