Using Chekhov technique in movement work

by | Mar 12, 2017 | 3 comments

Do you use Chekhov technique in your movement work? Recognising shared principles and synergies between movement work in the tradition of Laban and in Michael Chekhov\’s technique, I am interested to hear from movement people who use Chekhov technique in their work, perhaps blending it with other approaches.
This includes the areas of movement direction, teaching movement for actors, dance, choreography and dramaturgy.
I am part of the research project \’Michael Chekhov technique in the 21st Century: New Pathways\’. I would be delighted if you got in touch to let me know what you are doing/thinking/exploring, to give me more of a sense of how and whether the technique is being used.


  1. Anna Tringham

    I often refer to Chekhov’s Psychological Gesture when teaching; I allow the students to make connections between Lecoq’s Movement Technique movement work we explore – undulation, eclosion, Push/pull, physical actions…

    Quite often there is a reluctance to ‘be bigger’ than one’s own space and exploring natural body movements and expanding it does allow for a fuller experience of their bodies and allows them to use these new bodies in other classes that focus on Chekhov’s Technique:
    “Psychological acting ought to be the result of a performance that has been through maximum expansion in space”. (Lecoq 2009).

  2. Juliet Chambers-Coe

    Hi Roanna, Very familiar territory. It’s the inner/outer question and a key question in the training and practice differentiation of dance and acting.

    I am revisiting Laban’s Mastery of Movement at the moment and am being reminded of this very thing. In the Introduction to the Mastery of Movement, Laban speaks about this describing the ‘virtuoso’ (outer) skills in mastering shape, form and the “charm of mechanical perfection” as opposed to the actor who has a predominantly interior focus who “concentrates on the actuation of the inner springs of conduct preceding his movements” and aims at “mirroring the hidden process of the inner being” for “a deeper penetration into the innermost recesses of life and of human existence”. (Laban, p6, 1980). Laban seems to favour the ‘inner’ focused mover who is able to connect to an reveal “lost but essential qualities” and understand “that part of the inner life of man where movement and action originate” (Laban, p v, 1980) but contradicts this by saying that actually both inner ‘content’ and outer form must work together, “man’s inner urge to movement has to be assimilated to the acquisition of external skill in movement” (Laban, p v, 1980). The highest achievement, for Laban, in the mastery of movement is the ability to “think in terms of movement” to develop “movement thinking” which “could be considered as a gathering of impressions of happenings in one’s own mind, for which nomenclature is lacking. The thinking does not, as thinking in words does, serve orientation in the external world, but rather perfect’s man’s orientation in his inner world in which impulses continually surge and seek an outlet in doing, acting and dancing” (Laban, p 15, 1980).

    Interestingly, both Laban and Chekhov were deeply influenced by the period in which they developed their theories and practices, most notably the rise of ‘alternative’ esoteric/spiritual views of Anthroposophy and Rosicrucianism which sought the Arts as a physical/material manifestation of their beliefs.

    I find that I often ‘blend’ some of Chekhov’s approaches to movement which excites ‘interior’ movement thinking with Laban’s vocabulary for qualities which I find gives the actors I work with some clear landmarks for their imaginary work and helps them ‘fill’ from the inside into form (outside) expressively…

    I’ve been teaching the States/Inner Attitudes this Semester and so many of my students have developed their Atmosphere work in acting class, using them. I find both approaches to movement complementary and overlapping.

    I could talk about this all day long (you’ve probably guessed!!)….

    Would love to get some Chekhov and LMA practitioners in the studio together to play and ‘map’ cross-overs/intersections….


  3. Jennifer Mizenko

    Hello Roana, Yes I use Chekhov work in my movement for the actor classes. Specifically I use Psychological Gesture, Imaginary Body , and Qualities. And I make links from these concepts to Effort. The kids love it all and find it very helpful.

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