​Hand to head                                                                Both hands to head

Hand to shoulder                                                         Both hands to shoulders

Hand to stomach                                                          Both hands to stomach

Hand to chest                                                                Both hands to chest

Hand on hip                                                                   Hands on hips

Hand to neck                                                                 Hands to neck

​Hand touches thigh                                                      Hands touch thigh

Hand to cheek                                                               Hands to cheeks

Hand to forehead                                                         Hands to forehead

Hand caresses body                                                     Hands caress body

Hand touches opposite side of body                         Hands touch opposite sides of body

One hand held out, palm down                                 Both hands held out, palms down

One hand held out, palm up                                      Both hands held out, palms up

One arm held out to side                                            Both arms held out to side

One hand finger point                                                 Two hands finger point

Hand slaps chest                                                          Hands slap chest

First held out in front                                                   Fists held out in front

Fist hits chest                                                                Fists hit chest

Fist strikes thigh                                                           Fists strike thigh

Hand held over head                                                  Hands held over head

Head turns sharply                                                     Head nods


The believable initiation of a gesture depends upon a non tension state of readiness.  Any unnecessary or superfluous tension in the upper body makes a natural, believable gesture impossible....Even a realistic gesture can be sustained for an amazing length of time so long as it has been initiated without superfluous tension. (pp. 201-202)

One of the biggest challenges in the sustaining phase is keeping the gesture alive rather than simply holding it out like a piece of dead wood.  As with decay in the sound of a piano tone, there si gestural decay.  To keep the gesture alive, one must first understand clearly, on a body-mind level, what the gesture means.  This does not mean a verbal definition, but an intuitive, kinesthetic understanding which can only be achieved if there is a state o readiness free of superfluous tension to begin with.  (p. 203)

A gesture is difficult to sustain if it goes outside our personal space, that cylindrical zone that is ours and that extends eighteen to twenty-four inches from us on all sides...anytime the arms are fully extended they reach outside the private space, and it takes a great motivation-quieting a large crowd, holding off potential attachers - to sustain it. (p. 204)

Careful attention should be given to the completion of the release.  Performers commonly hold onto slight residual tensions, and the tiniest bit of held tension (in the hands, for example) draws the attention of the views in a compelling way just when that attention should return to the facial/emotional mode as the primary visual communicator.  Wherever superfluous tensions reside in the arms or body, the average audience is remarkably accurate in identifying and being distracted by them rather than concentrating on the true source of power in the performance,  Time after time I have pointed out a slight and (Thought) unnoticeable tension in a performer to a lay person in the audience, only to find that the person was not only aware of the tension problem but was disturbed y by it.  We must watch closely for those tilt in the writs, stiff fingers, clenched finger; all are tiny statements, but they indicate an overall tension that will interfere.  (p. 204)

Any gesture can be incorporated in any context.  All it takes i exercise and imagination-practice, play, and persistent-by the performer.  Strengthening the performer's imaginative power in making sense of any gesture is a fundamental goal of the exercise.  Accomplishing this requires observers who are deeply involved in the process of diagnosis and validation, for it is their feedback that confirms the development of the new creative capacities and nurtures the continuing growth.  (pp. 205-206)

Another exercise that expands the gestural vocabulary is the use of arbitrary gesture cards, which function similarly to the arbitrary attitude cards.. their purpose is very simple: to find a stimulating, nonjudgmental way of compelling the performer to expand the gesture vocabulary....

Each card has a specific gesture suggestion:  a hand held to the forehead, a fist held out in front, both hands on the chest, a hand caressing the thigh, a finger pointing in the air, and so on.  The number of possible gesture cards is limits only by the imagination of those creating them.  The quality of the gesture can be left undefined so that the performer can give each of them the kind of energy that makes sense in context.  It is possible, of course, to include quality cards as well that define the movement of the gesture:  jabbing, stroking, punching, and the like.  The important thing is for the performer to be able to test virtually all possible gestural and quality combinations, allowing them to take on different meanings as dictated by specific situations and characters.  If a full range of gestures is included in the list, the performer is able to explore most of the inhibited "wilderness" areas in his or her physical communication system.  Having done so, the brush is cleared of rah intuitive, impulsive self to work in those areas without inhibition.  (pp. 206-207)

An interesting phenomenon occurs when working with the arbitrary gesture concept, whether with mirror incorporation or with arbitrary gesture cards.  As performers execute the often unusual gestural suggestions, they of ten find it very difficult, stopping gin the middle of the gesture to say, "This doesn't make sense."  And the observers respond, "You were doing beautifully!" because it made perfect objective sense to them... our habitual intellectual mind-set rebels agains anything it cannot immediately and conventionally rationalize.  But if we allow our body-mind to make the statement, it finds the reason-for-being that the observers immediately perceive as a possibility.  (p. 208)

For gestures to be filled with meaning, they must interrelate with the focus na attitude of the facial/emotional mode.  If the face is blank or neutral, gestures seem to lack content and become the empty semaphores of popular parody.  The interconnection is vital:  gestural exercise must be accompanied by the integrated with facial/emotional statements.  Without the involvement, gestures are worse than not useful: they are counterproductive because they establish a habit of neutralizing gestural meaning for both the performer and the observer.  The kinesthetic statement is like music-it is suggestive but unspecified energy; the facial/emotional statement (along with the words and the situation) gives that energy specific meaning....

In exercising the kinesthetic mode, there should always be a specifying, sense-making message from the facial/emotional mode.  (pp. 208-209)

Performers making new performance choices, whether gestural or emotions, are confronted with responsibility for their choices. The judgement that comes from this responsibility often inhibits the growth process.  Both arbitrary gesture and mirror exercises remove responsibility from performers because they are relieved of making the choice.  But can we also help performers take the next step?  Can we put this creative freedom o the arbitrary assignment in the hands of the performers themselves?  Can we allow them to provide their own creative stimuli?  (p. 209)

In life, of course, it it ludicrous to gesture with sustained tension.  (try it while gesturing naturally.)  But in performance, the practice can quickly become a habit, and eventually any gesture calls full body tension into play automatically.

In most cases, more tension energy is expended in a gesture than is needed to simply to make the gestural statement.  The hands go to the head in a gesture of anguish, but at the same time the shoulders hunch up and the whole body tenses spasmodically.  The hands to the head are the meaning of the gesture, but the extra body and shoulder tension attaches itself to that meaning.  (p. 211)


smooth  or  staccato

rounded  or  angular

large  or  small

fast  or  slow

expansive  or  tentative

open  or  closed

flowing  or  jerky

above the midsection  or  below the midsection

full arm oriented  or  hand-wrist oriented