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Sally E Dean // Teacher
IDOCs » Somatic Movement & Costume Workshop - Proposal
How does what we wear affect how we move and perceive and what we create and perform? As part of Sally’s current research into Somatic Movement and Costume, these workshops invite participants to wear, move and create in costumes that generate specific body-mind experiences– bringing participants into the territory of improvisation and performance.

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Somatic Movement & Costume Workshop:  Introduction

This Introductory workshop opens participants to the field of ‘somatic costume’ and its potential applications to dance training, creative process, improvisation, performance making and therapeutic processes.  

This workshop is 2.5 hours in length and is part of a longer series of Somatic Costume workshops - each inhabiting a different theme and focus. Costumes have been under-utilised as a tool in somatic practices and in contemporary dance education.  The intent of these workshops is to open participants to this vital, multi-sensorial resource.

Other workshops in the series include some of the following:  “Somatic Costume & Performance Making”, “Somatic Sound Costumes”, “Somatic Costume & Image, “The Ecological Costume”, “Somatic Costume: The Arms”, “Somatic Costume & Character”, “Somatic Costume: Skull & Feet”, “Somatic Costumes for 2”, “Somatic Costumes and the Cross-Cultural” and “Somatic Costume & Site”.


 Exercise One: “Warm-Up - Awakening the Skin”

This exercise includes movement improvisations and touch in partners (duets) and in solos - cultivating the sense of skin, our 3 body surfaces, our contact to environmental surfaces (earth/floor and air) and our metaphorical relationships to skin and space. 


  1. to awaken the sense of the skin and three body surface areas (front, back, sides)-  cultivating the three-dimensionality of the body.  What body surfaces do you typically move from and which ones do you not?  To create precision and awareness with body surfaces.
  2. to bring awareness to the skin’s contact with the floor and the air (earth and sky) in both movement and stillness.  To awaken the idea that touch is a two way exchange  - the skin it giving and receiving touch: “The floor touches my skin and my skin touches the floor.”
  3. to move with the skin as a ‘living, breathing membrane’ and to explore the image of ‘painting’ and ‘sculpting’ the space and floor with the surfaces of the skin - bringing into play our creative connection to the environment.
  4. to recognize and experience the skin as a place where our ‘inner world’ (inside the body) and our ‘outer world’ (outside the body) meet.

Exercise Two:  “Skin and Clothing”

This exercise focuses on exploring the relationship between skin and clothing as not only a kinesthetic and sensorial experience, but also a metaphorical one: “your clothing becomes a second skin.”  We move from solo material into group improvisations. 


  1. to bring forth the idea that ‘clothing’ is a ‘costume’ - and that our everyday clothing affects how we move.  Our clothing is touching us and we are touching our clothing - giving and bringing forth kinaesthetic information. 
  2. to apply and move with the metaphor of clothing as being a ‘second skin’ - a living permeable membrane and boundary.
  3. to bring awareness to the space between the body and the costume - what Japanese fashion designers term as ‘Ma.”
  4. to integrate these awarenesses and approaches to skin and clothing in relationship to other participants and space.

Exercise Three: “Invisible Director”

This ‘guiding and following’ exercise incorporates touch, movement with eyes closed and open -  in solos, duets, trios and group movement improvisations - to experience the idea of an ‘invisible director.’


  1. to give participants an experiential understanding of what it is to ‘guide/lead’ and what it is like to ‘follow.’  
  2. to bring the possibility forward of a third ‘potential space’ where no one is leading and no one is following - a place where you meet - the ‘Invisible Director”.  
  3. to prepare participants for the upcoming Exercise 4, where we move with the costume as if it is an ‘Invisible Director’.
  4. to support the understanding that costume can be listened to and followed as if it is a person - as opposed to the tendency to relate to the costume mostly as an object to manipulate.
  5. to provide time and space for discussion and reflection of participants’ experiences with each other.

Exercise 4: “In Flux - Costume Creation & Body Awareness”

In this exercise we will experience the roles of costume designer, performer and witness; creating and moving in costumes that exist in a ‘state of flux’, generated from kinesthetic and sensorial information, giving us not only body awareness, but tools for generating performance material.  Solo, duet and group improvisations.


  1. to create costumes out of materials (eg. tape and trash bags) on a moving body in a ‘state of flux’, as if ‘following an invisible director’.  Examples of costume designing methods or ‘awarenesses’ to explore are provided such as: “include places where the body is contained and restricted and places where the body is free to move.”
  2. to encourage costume creation to include and begin from the kinesthetic sense- where materials are placed on the body in a ‘state of flux’, responding to the physical impulses generated by the mover. Often costume is created on a still body and with a pre-conceived idea or image of what costume is to be created.  We challenge this and provide an alternative approach.
  3. to invite the mover to begin to sense, kinesthetically, how the costume/materials changes how we move and how we experience ourselves.  Costume can generate body awareness.
  4. to provide examples and tools of how costume can generate performance material.

 Group Discussion and Sharing

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Kerstin Kussmaul Eligible Member // Teacher
i took a 2.5 hours somatic costumes with sally and was very inspired by the bauety and multifacetedness of this work!

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Sally E Dean // Teacher
Thanks so much Kerstin! :)

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