I just came back from a fun visit to SVA today where the 3D Animator's Club was treated to a special four-hour movement class with visiting artist Jena Necrason, the Head of Movement at the Stella Adler Studio. She was invited by Jimmy Calhoun to do a special session with the student character animators there. It was an amazing workout. She put us in touch with our primary instrument as animators - our own bodies - and got us loose and limber in no time.
We did a series of physical movement exercises designed to quiet our minds of all the daily chatter, heighten our powers of observation and awareness of balance. We walked the space exploring inner states of mind and amplified them physically without losing the truth in the motion. We mirrored our partner's actions, trading off the lead, becoming more sensitive to the slightest impulses.
Jena then had us wear masks - neutral in expression - and that opened up some amazing behaviors in everyone. Jena called out key words and phrases, and we were asked to physicalize them spontaneously. I wish someone had a video camera to record it, because by this time, the expressions were uninhibited, rich and diverse - and excellent reference for an animator!
At the end of this session, we talked about the experience and what our take away from it was. We agreed that the most effective physicality occurred when it started at the core, the hips and spine, and emanated throughout our body. It was eye-opening to many who had never done this type of work what a great tool this is to get in touch with whatever character you can conceive. As an actor, I have experienced many classes similar to this, but that was quite awhile ago. I'm so glad I came in to share the class as I rediscovered the immense value of this preparation to my current work as an animator.
Kudos to MontaQue Ruffin, Jimmy Calhoun, and JMac for making this exceptional seminar happen.