In addition to corporate chair massage and seated chair massage a key element in any corporate health system is somatics. The beginnings of modern somatics are generally traced to the exploration of emotional expression, movement, and gesture in the theater arts.
The concept of somatic education and the connection between motions and movement can probably be traced to of F.M. Alexander, Rudolph Steiner, and Wilhelm Reich and other exploring experiential learning. During this same period, Isadora Duncan and Rudolf von Laban challenged traditional European conceptions of dance. Although Frederick Matthias Alexander developed a seminal somatic technique as early as the 1890s, the term “somatic” or “somatics” was not in general use until movement therapist Thomas Hanna introduced it in the 1980s.
In movement contexts, the term “somatic” generally refers to techniques which emphasize the mover’s internal proprioceptive sensations, in contrast with performance-based techniques.
Before these pioneers developed their work there were others who preceded them. Among the most prominent was François Alexandre Nicolas Chéri Delsarte (19 November 1811 – 20 July 1871). was a French musician, composer, and teacher. Though he achieved some success as a composer and is well known as a teacher in singing and declamation (forthright or distinct projection of words set to music) he was one of the first teachers who attempted to connect the inner emotional experience of the actor with a systematized set of gestures and movements. He achieved this by observing people in real life and in public places of all kinds. Through his observations, he discovered certain patterns of expression, eventually called the Science of Applied Aesthetics. This consisted of a thorough examination of voice, breath, movement dynamics, encompassing all of the expressive elements of the human body.
The idea of connection voice, movement, and emotional expression was so revolutionary that by the end of the 19th century much was said and written in America regarding Delsarte gymnastics. This was of course a misnomer. Delsarte was neither a gymnast nor was his system related to the core concepts that defined gymnastics. Essentially his system was one that explored emotional expression through voice and gesture.
His work was concerned with “Relaxing” exercises and training in poise and in control of the breath which formed a part of the necessary preparation for effective appearance on the platform or the stage.
Being that his work preceded Freud and other psychiatric and and psychology pioneers much of his work was based upon his own observations of human interaction. This “Delsarte” method became so popular that it was taught throughout the world, but particularly in America. Unfortunately many who attempted to teach his approach did not fully understand or communicate the emotional connections behind the gestures, and as a result the method devolved into melodramatic posing. It seems that no certification was needed to teach a course with the name Delsarte attached, and the study regressed into empty posing with little emotional truth behind it.
Both Delsarte’s ideas and the failure of them to be understood by many who claimed to be students of these concepts influenced Konstantin Stanislavski would later develop his inner psychological methods which in turn infuenced many of the most influential acting teachers of the modern era including Lee Strasburg, Stella Adler, Sandy Meisner, and others.
Though I have been unable to form a direct connection there is the possibiity that Delsarte’s work might have infuenced the theories of Jacob Levy Moreno (born Iacob Levy, May 18, 1889 – May 14, 1974) the pioneering Austrian–American psychiatrist and psychosociologist, thinker and educator. The founder of psychodrama, and the foremost pioneer of group psychotherapy Moreno
While living in Vienna in the early 1900s Moreno started an improvisational theater company, Stegreiftheater, the Theater of Spontaneity. From his work here where he formulated a form of psychotherapy he called psychodrama, which employed improvised dramatizations, role-plays and other therapeutic, spontaneous dramatic expressions that utilized and unleashed the spontaneity and creativity of the group and its individual members. Moreno saw “psychodrama as the next logical step beyond psychoanalysis.” It was “an opportunity to get into action instead of just talking, to take the role of the important people in our lives to understand them better, to confront them imaginatively in the safety of the therapeutic theater, and most of all to become more creative and spotantaneous human beings.”
Here Moreno was putting into action the ideas Delsarte’s expored as studied how humans actually moved, behaved and responded emotional stimuli.
Delsarte’s work inspired modern dancers such as Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. Rudolf Laban and F. Matthias Alexander also studied Delsarte’s teachings until they later developed their own methods. F. Matthias Alexander was certainly aware of DelSarte’s work, his performing arts school in Sidney, and his teaching stationery, both mention the Delsarte System along with Alexander’s own method. There is no ‘derivation’ implied, as there is no indication of Alexander having any exposure to Delsarte teaching before his own system was formed.
Delsarte never wrote a book explaining his method firsthand, and neither did his only protégé, actor and theater innovator Steele MacKaye. However, MacKaye’s student Genevieve Stebbins did write a book in 1885 titled The Delsarte System of Expression, and it became a wild success. Eventually, author Edward B. Warman wrote a similar guide to Delsarte’s teachings, entitled: Gesture and Attitudess.
Despite this, modern Anglophone yoga classes closely resemble the Delsarte “gymnastics” as taught by American Genevieve Stubbins.
When my team at the NYC Chair Massage Company – www.eventschairmassage.com – offers stress management programs we are always concerned with which come first; the body or the mind.
Studies show healthy employees are more productive, have fewer health care costs, and lower absentee rates.
Body-mind explorations as practiced by the NYC Corporate Chair Massage Company – www.eventschairmassage.com – integrates corporate stress management with touch, bodywork, movement and chair massage.
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