The Three Orders of Movement Delsarte 1871

Delsarte 1871 moves beyond the static systems of gestural actor training that were used in the 17th and 18th centuries by paying close attention to the dynamics of motion. In particular, I became particularly interested in three types of motion that Delsarte identifies:


Any two parts of the body moving in opposite directions simultaneously suggest expressive force, strength, physical or emotional power. For example, a rejecting motion of arm and hand is strengthened by an opposite motion of head and torso. (This brings to mind Newton’s Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.)


Any two parts of the body moving in parallel directions simultaneously suggest deliberateness, planning, intentionality. An example of this would be arms moving downward in parallel in a beat gesture.


“Any movement passing through the body which moves each part [of the body in turn] (in a fluid wave-like motion)” (Shawn, 1963). True successions move from the face, through the torsos and into the arms and legs and suggest sincerity and normality. Reverse successions work backwards from the limbs into the face and suggest falsity and insincerity.

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