Embodied Practice: Critical Explorations

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSCC2DP2034

Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon

Course Coordinator and Team: Mandeep Singh Raikhy & Ranjana Dave

Email of course coordinator: mandeep[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in, ranjana[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: This course is suitable for students with an interest and general proficiency in dance and movement. Completion of this course is necessary for students who wish to take Embodied Practice: Technique and Pedagogy in Semester 4.

Course Objectives/Description:

The overarching objective of the Embodied Practice courses throughout this programme is for students to understand embodiment as a process and not an outcome. Embodied Practice: Fundamental Movement Principles approaches this by aiming to equip students with a deep experiential understanding of anatomical principles as a starting point for dance training. The course focuses on movement foundations such as dynamic alignment, body awareness, integration, depth of physical engagement and clarity of initiation as fundamental to the development of a sensitive and reflexive dance practitioner.

With a somatic approach to movement training, the course will provide a focused palette of practices that allows the participants to build articulation, sensitivity and resilience through a curious and investigative approach. The course encourages students to challenge their existing movement patterns, interrogate intention, heighten awareness of their own bodies as well as the space around them and expand the range and quality of their movement capacity.

Embodied Practice: Critical Explorations is particularly designed to immerse students into the ways in which rigorous, new approaches can arise from a critical engagement with forms and techniques. Students will experience and examine dance pedagogies arrived at through the deeply invested movement research of a number of key practitioners.

This course allows students to refine articulation, physicality and sensitivity through complex material and to take ownership of the movement propositions offered. The course will prepare students for a period of intense devising and performing in the course Practice in Context in Semester 3.


  • At the end of the course, students will be able to demonstrate:
  • A somatically informed understanding of the principles underpinning a range of movement methodologies and vocabularies.
  • An ability to physicalise a variety of propositions, recognising and utilizing the creative potential of technical practices
  • A critical and reflexive approach to movement training and inculcate a sense of responsibility in the students of their own technical development
  • A personal approach that recognizes the potential of dance training as means to develop a long-term relationship with one’s own body as well as to prepare the body for creative practice

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Anatomy and Reflexivity

The main aim is to encourage a reflexive relationship between the body and the space within and without. The class examines key anatomical understanding, encourage the dancer to find a personal presence and develop ways to inhabit their own bodies. The class also works with movement as the base of dance practices encouraging participants to develop an understanding of dance through physicality and rigour.

The classes will focus on:

  • A practical and functional knowledge of the muscular and skeletal support for our physical structure.
  • Observation of habitual muscular tension patterns and the manner in which they impact on the mechanics of support and movement.
  • Building skill sets crucial to the deconstruction of movement.
  • Developing the ability to apply this skill set to new and unfamiliar movements.

The teaching approach will focus on observation and activity, with verbal instruction and lecture distributed over the session. The emphasis will be on practical learning using movement and activity along with the use of a variety of learning resources, but participants will also be required to keep notes and document their observations.

Breath and Connectivity

These classes focus on pelvic stability, core strength and spinal articulation, the movement of the upper torso and arms, alignment and balance while standing and moving and directionality with the lower and upper body.

Musicality and Technique

These classes will aim at resilience and endurance, enabling a wider range of movement and an understanding of the body’s dynamic qualities. They also look at musicality and the relationship of movement to technique. The students begin to engage with complex movement material, embodying and personalising these sequences in the classes.

Studying Everyday Actions

On a bench, the action of getting up. Where does this initiate? What is the relationship between the head and the pelvis in the action of getting up? How do you arrive at the vertical relationship between them which is like that of the neutral spine. Eventually, the getting up is performed with a few steps, with the walking and sitting again performed as one continuous process of weight transfer. How do we look at the actions of climbing, sitting, walking, crawling, rolling, sliding, hopping and jumping through the lens of weight transfer?


How do we extend the movement principles studied in this semester into endurance and strength training? How do we push the limits of the body while keeping its integrity and connectivity as well as focussing on safe practice?

Assessment Details with weights:

The objective of the assessment is to evaluate the students’ embodied understanding of the differentiations in approaches of the various practitioners introduced to them throughout the semester.

  • Participation in classroom tasks, documentation and discussions (20%)
  • Mid-term assessment (30%)
  • End-term assessment (30%)
  • Reflective Journal (20%)

Reading List:

  • Olsen, A. (with McHose, C.). (1998). Bodystories: A guide to experiential anatomy. New York: Station Hill Press.
  • Todd, M. E. (1937). The thinking body. New York: Dance Horizons.
  • Vincent, L. M. (1980). The dancer’s book of health. London: Dance Books
  • (To be added to by visiting practitioners)