Laboratory of Movement Study

As an extension of the courses given by Jacques Lecoq to the architect students at the Paris School for Fine Arts (Ecole Nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts), Jacques Lecoq create in 1976 a stage design department, the L.E.M. (Laboratory of Movement Study) with the architect Krikor Belekian who directed it until june 2011. The L.E.M. is now run by Pascale Lecoq, architect and stage designer, with a team of teachers from the school.

The L.E.M.

The LEM is the school’s department for experimental scenography, exclusively dedicated to

the dynamic research of space and rhythm through a structural form.
The students, all with different artistic backgrounds, meet and share a pedagogical journey,
based on movement analysis which enables them to feel the surrounding world in their body’s. The dynamic and drama comes from the body. To study its movements helps to understand the forces organising the space.

This learning goes through the analysis of simple movements and their transpositions into
structures in a workshop situation. The student, in direct contact with  the material, creates forms and puts them in motion to discover their rhythms.

All the every day life observations gathered by the miming body are transformed into a structural and architectural language through basic materials : paper, cardboard, wood-sticks, wire, clay, etc.
What the sensitive body has gathered is put together in the working space through the
creation of experimental objects that can be put in motion (portable structures, masks and
dynamic costumes).

The LEM journey is a practical experience that cannot be replaced by written explanations. Each class is a real organisation of urgency. This experimental approach leads to creativity based on feelings rather than reflexion. It is the stucture put in motion that reveals its inner truth.

The pedagody is based on the following states:

  • the neutral or calm state
  • the balance of forces
  • the economy of physical actions
  • transfers

These references are a necessary attempt to understand movement, they are not to be seen as an absolute.

Teaching creativity is nothing else than to teach while creating. This is a pedagogy of discovering the unpredictable .
This dimension of risk and rectification of errors is one of the basis of the LEM pedagogy.It implies that the student’s creations are not judged on a particular aesthetic but through a global interpretation by the group.

The LEM is not a transmission of a recipy or a technique, but it gives the
student a reference to enable him later to find his own touch as a creative artist towards a poetic dimension when advancing into the unknown.



The LEM is organised weekly as follow :

  • movement analysis classes
  • workshop classes
  • dramatic improvisation classes

The first term is devoted to :

  • universal discovery of the laws governing movement and spaces
  • the creation of dynamic structures
  • how to put the human body into space

The second term deals with :

  • the dynamic of colours and human feelings
  • the creation of dynamic masks
  • the study of senses and the dramatic space
  • form and colour
  • the human body metamorphosis

The third term explores :

  • a personal project
  • the Drama exhibition

Portable Structures

Extract from the book
"Le Théâtre du Geste - Mimes et Acteurs"

written under the direction of Jacques Lecoq
Editions BORDAS, 1987

“Portable structures are the abstract progression of the mask's play. The theatre mask possesses a more or less expressive character, by referring to the human face which it hides under another larval, stylised or, in other words, symbolic face. The mask is also a form which plays in the space like a vehicle following the indications proposed by its form. It lunges, turns, points and hits like a true tool, following  its planes, lines, angles and masses.

The portable structures appear like abstract architectural forms, organizing the space into rhythms that bring it to life. They are played like masks, carried by the body or manipulated by the arms, moving in the space following their indications and forces. They should not be played like marionettes, in which one could imagine seeing a human figure with eyes and a mouth ... and for whom the conflicts stem from everyday situations.

The portable structures lead to the discovery of a variety of objects' play, which, outside of the utilitarian role for which they were built, take on a different significance.

This abstract play is not gratuitous, it is based on real themes which are "essentialized", without anecdote, in a plastic space. I remember the emotion provoked by the play of portable structures based on the theme "Hurricane on a cornfield in Iowa, United States": without any imagery, it was a sensation of colours, lights and volume playing in the space.
The actor's body was integrated into the play of the structure itself, complementing and accompanying discretely or disengaged completely from the structure in order to serve its' play.

This direction of mime-architecture approaches scenography by separating it from the idea of decoration and giving back to the object its plastic and dynamic sense.”

Jacques LECOQ