The Introduction opens with an account of a dance performed by two dancers of different ages, both of them in the lineage of the choreographer Pina Bausch. The purpose of this example is to introduce the three concepts that underpin the book’s thinking about movement: the vitality of being; the role of technique; and the centrality of rhythm to social life. In terms of theatre, these theoretical perspectives can inform approaches to acting, craft and scenography, as well as theatre’s relations with the world around it.

In keeping with this convergence between the physics and aesthetics of movement, the Nelken project documented by the Pina Bausch archive is an excellent place to start, and it provides the instructions to learn a short sequence of movement technique, that is both representational and non-representational, called the Nelken Line. Nelken means Carnations in English and Nelken was a work created by Pina Bausch in 1982 and you can find reviews and commentaries about the production online. 

The company’s sharing of the choreography of the Nelken Line, depicting the four seasons, has been an amazing project of letting many different people embody this fascinating rhythmic structure. You can try it yourself at home, or with your class. You can also watch and compare how many individuals around the world have reproduced, copied and incorporated its rhythms into their own social lives. 

Given the ubiquity of movement in every facet of life and art, the introduction frames the book’s critical questioning around the history of movement, the work of embodied movement, and the mobilisation of bodies as critical strands within the theatre and performance theory of the twenty and twenty-first century.