The Foundations of the Shape Component linked to Developmental Progression

Convex/Concave Shape pattern of rippled wavy lines: up and over, down and under, this way and that way

Shape defined – In LBMS Shape is defined as the Body’s changing form in relationship to itself and the environment. The Shape Movement Component is the bridge connecting our Body to the Space. This development can be linked to the development of recognition of Self and Other, as our Body is the basis of Self, and all that is not Self is thus the Other of our world in the LBMS context.

Developmental Progression – Developmental progression builds from simpler to more complex through the process of differentiation. That is, from a process of discerning the parts of the whole. Developmental Progression involves a succession of stages increasing in specificity and complexity and in which later stages are dependent on preceding stages.

In this article I will be addressing two foundational aspects of the Shape BESS Component – Concave/Convex and Gather/Scatter.

The foundations of the Shape Movement Component begins with the duality of the Convex/Concave form. This aspect of Shape is built into the design and development of our moving form. An example of how this is explicitly expressed is in our Spinal development and the actions of the spine allowing us to Condense inward or Expand outward.  

The Spine with its curvilinear progressive development and as the axis of our length and linked to our bilaterality is foundational in so many, many ways but I will not address this here as the focus of this blog is on Shape not Body.  What is essential to understand is that the Body’s form and function are the foundation of this discussion.

The Concave/Convex form as it relates to the Body/Space duality foregrounds the Body  (- BODY/space -)  and this aspect of the body form’s gives rise to identifying actions toward self and away from self.  This next level of understanding becomes the basis of the actions of “give and take” and a further differentiation in the Body/Space relationship resulting in the Shape actions of Gathering and/or Scattering as the Space becomes more clarified.  All subsequent aspects of the Shape Component, including the Still Forms, Modes of Shape Change and Shape Qualities are supported by these foundational aspects of Shape (Concave/Convex and Gather/Scatter).

I. To start –  Concave/Convex        ) (    &   ( )

Wholeness and simultaneous Duality is inherent in this form – – a Convex shape is already also Concave,  the perspective is the determining factor. For example, if I cup my hand to hold water to sip, the palm surface is Concave while the back of the hand convex in this relationship creating a container for content. Likewise, the inside of the skull is a concave shape supporting the content of the brain and the convex outer surface of the skull is the container to protect the brain contained within the shape.  

The Concave /Convex experience through our form allows for the experience of Duality and Wholeness of continuum and the paradox of oppositional duality creating wholeness. This foundational Shape duality gives rise to the many ways we come to understand the world and ourselves in it. It supports the idea of content and container. Containers support Content. This Shape relationship in turn allows discernment of Mobility and Stability – – Containers are often Stable in support of Mobile Content. It also supports the understanding of Inner and Outer.

More about the Concave/Convex foundational aspect of Shape

Think about all the patterns of space harmony in the natural world and all the images and metaphoric associations associated with this Shape form including: waves, crests, hills and valleys, under curves and over curves, arches, domes , umbrellas!

Next think about and move to experience the Shape of CONCAVE

Explore simple actions of the arms, the spine and how our experience of the creating Concave Shapes gives rise to associations including:

  • surrounding 
  • enclosing 
  • containing 
  • protecting
  • condensing

Now explore the Experience of the Shape of CONVEX including perceptions of:

  • defending or shielding
  • keeping out
  • expanding

Think about how the Convex focus can be used to attack or to express vulnerability.

Think how both aspects of the Concave/Convex shape creates boundaries and relationships.

II. Next foundational level –  Actions of Gather/Scatter

Gathering and Scattering builds from the Body’s design in its form but this now can become a more differentiated aspect of the Body/Space relationship.  A Gathering action does not have to include the opposite of Scattering and vice versa (unlike the less differentiated Concave/Convex aspect of Shape which has both built in to the whole). This relates to how FUNCTION (and the Expression of our intent)  has become more significant in the process of development and how the SPACE now is also more significant-  body/SPACE  – linked to the recognition of “towards” and “away” which is a spatial understanding.  

Clarity in how we relate to the environment through volitional actions of the Body continues to develop at a new more refined level. This is the relationship of towards self and away from self. From the Space towards the Body and from the Body into the Space in expressing capacity and intent of giving and taking.  These actions build on the Body’s Changing Convex/Concave capacity but now allow the Space to coexist with the Body in this relationship going beyond the foundation of form into how it functions to serve us.

A more nuanced Inner/Outer relationship is developed relating to motivations and intents of the mover in response to their needs. Actions become interactions.  We experience how these Gathering and Scattering actions allow us to interact in the world.

To start to explore this capacity linked to our intent (but grounded in the Body as basis) try:

  • Breathing as Gathering and Scattering,
  • Hearing and Seeing as Gathering to “take” in information, as well as using eye gaze to “give” out information through eye contact with another   
  • Vocalizing as Scattering (giving action)
  • All Basic Body actions explored as ways to either Give or Take – what is the Gathering in the action of touch? What is the Scattering of Touch (in the Basic Body action of Connecting)? When is Traveling underscored by Scattering? When is it in support of Gathering? 

The Space Harmony of Form and Function are expressed through the Shape Component of our movement in our actions and interactions. Building on the foundations of Concave/Convex and Gathering/Scattering, the subsequent development of this Component follows in the Modes of Shape Change. The Modes further clarify the Self/Other relationship (Shape Flow, Directional Movement and Shaping). The development of the Shape Component is also built on the Inner/Outer, Body/Space relationship of our Innersphere (linked to the Core Shape Change of the Shape Qualities) and access to our Kinespheric Space as we cope with and master our environments in the world we inhabit* .   

This is why we value, in LBMS Somatic Education, exploring our movement capacity through experiential anatomy to deepen our self-awareness. And this is how and why we integrate Bartenieff Fundamental awareness and the practice of Space Harmony Scale work.  This is why BF and Space Harmony are in fact an interwoven Whole of the Body/Space relationship.

*This is a reference to the titles of Bartenieff’s and Laban’s texts addressing the Body/Space interaction.

Body Movement: Coping with the Environment by Irmgard Bartenieff

The Mastery of Movement by Rudolf Laban 

K. Studd  November 15, 2022