Exploring embodied resonance: introduction to Fitzmaurice Voicework® in dramatherapy

The body holds stress. The voice is a mixture of a string and a wind instrument. How can we use the vibrations of our sound to shake of the somatic tension?

This workshop explored embodied resonance as a somatic-poetic practice considering the interaction between imagination and our somatic experience of ourselves and the world seeking to create experiential resonance with ripples and wobbles within and without that may destabilize and restabilize simultaneously.

Ellen explained how instruments are categorised into different types. There are string instruments like the guitar or violin which create vibrate when those strings are plucked or bowed creating the sound waves. You control the pitch by adjusting the tension on the string.

There are also wind instruments which create sound when air circulates across a reed causing the reed to vibrate and create sound. You control the pitch by adjusting the power of the breath or by directing the air through different chambers by opening and covering holes.

The human voice is both a string and a wind instrument. Our vocal cords are like strings that can be tuned by tightening and relaxing them, we use the air of our breath to add power and vibration and we can produce a head sound or we can open the throat to send the vibrations around the chamber of our lungs.

The Fitzmaurice Voicework® is a somatic approach to voicework that explores the dynamics between breath, voice, imagination and communication. It has focus on the whole voice and can assist in personal growth, self-knowing and self-care.

The workshop was like a cross between a yoga class and a vocal warmup. What happens if we are in the cow position and sounding. Where are the vibrations felt. How does the inner resonance of the muscles impact on the vibration. We know that the body keeps the score and holds the tension and stress in our muscles, organs and nervous system; can we use the body vibration to free our breathing and release that held energy.

This Fitzmaurice Voicework® playlist demonstrates some of the basic principles, positions and body tremors we explored within the session.

In dramatherapy we work with imagination ‘made flesh’ and often delve into as ‘disturbances’, unformed and uncontrolled knowing from within. How do we support ourselves to creatively explore these kind moments – of possibility and not-knowing?

Working as a group, we had opportunities to explore, to support through therapeutic touch and to witness one another’s bodily investigation.

The workshop combined the Fitzmaurice Voicework with dramatherapy exercises inviting personal and collective explorations of voice and imagination. Voice in this context means the physical voice as well as the notion of voicing and asserting ourselves in space and as space participating in life with awareness of our own relevance to it. Obstacles are many, within and without. Being aware and curious about them, is not only a personal endeavour, but also indeed a social one.

Ellen’s final activity for us split the room into two communities of aliens. One group could only use vowel sounds (A, E, I, O U) and the other could only use consonant sounds (e.g. B, C, D, F, G…). Could we be curious about each other, could we mimic each other in any way? The vowel group made long sounds, the consonant group made staccato sounds but this could be adapted, the vowel group could make shorter sounds “Eh” and the constant group had some sounds which could be held “Ssss” “Rrrr”. We explored how we could interact and use our sounds differently as we mirrored and played.

Ellen Foyn Bruun

Ellen Foyn Bruun is an Associate Professor of Drama and Theatre at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU Trondheim, Norway. She is an HCPC registered dramatherapist and an Associate teacher of Fitzmaurice® Voicework.

Since 2007 Ellen has pioneered dramatherapy in Norway and she is active in the European Federation of Dramatherapy.

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