"Undulation" is what Lecoq describes as one of three "Natural Everyday Movements" which it is supremely important for an actor to understand. He claims it is the "driving force behind all physical effort manifest in the human body", understood essentially as a transmission of energy from a point of leverage (like the floor) to a point of application (like your spine). Undulation is also a movement which many Butoh teachers commonly use in order to help their students quiet the daily mind and awaken their "Butoh energy." In the Subbody method, this could be equated with activating the "Subbody Mode" where the conscious mind and subconscious body are united in the meditative state from which a butoh dance can emerge!
Embodiment or "Identification" is a principle aspect of Lecoq's actor training in the first year of study at his school, whereby students learn to play at becoming different elements (like water, fire, air, and earth) and progress through different manifestations of these elements as well as materials and animals. Embodiment is also a key technique in certain schools of butoh training where the dancer's body can transform itself into images as far ranging as a Rose, a Snake, or even a Praying Mantis! In both Butoh and Lecoq's actor training, embodiment is not the end-all-be-all, but a tool for expanding the resonance and expressive possibilities of a performance.
3. The Universal Poetic Sense
Perhaps of greatest note to a Butoh Dancer, or anyone interested in watching butoh in performance, is Lecoq's notion of "The Universal Poetic Sense". He describes this sense as the "essence of life." It is a dimension "made up of spaces, lights, colours, materials, sounds which can be found in all of us", which constitutes our "common heritage" and which is capable of rapidly channeling our "emotions", a word he is quick to explain means "setting in motion." In many ways, I believe it is precisely this Universal Poetic Sense which is what makes butoh so beautiful and so accessible to so many people. Unlike other highly codified, stylized, or deeply traditional ways of expressing oneself, Butoh is very much about stripping away artifice and revealing the soul of the performer, a kind of non-verbal communication which appeals far less to our rational minds than to that deeply felt, but hard-to-describe Universal Poetic Sense we share.
Butoh dance may not appeal to everyone. For many, the direct and raw appeal to our emotions may be too close for comfort. And Lecoq's system of Actor Training with all its complex progressions and nuance may not be accessible for every dancer of butoh. However, those who are able to experience both systems of exploration will - I think - experience rich growth from the significant and beautiful correlations between the two. And for the average audience member, those of you who will likely never take a Butoh or Lecoq class, knowing how the two cross over may enhance your appreciation for what you see the next time you go to watch a performance.
About the Author
www.jordanrosin.com //@JordanRosin //www.theumegroup.org