The influence of sports on Jacques Lecoq’s actor training

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    This article seeks to examine the extent to which Jacques Lecoq's early experiences of sports, athletics and gymnastics informed his later work as an internationally influential specialist in movement-based theatre training. Although his experiences as a sports coach and therapist have been acknowledged, there has been little work to explore the extent to which these experiences, and the principles and values Lecoq may have acquired during them, have shaped his teaching and the structure and nature of the pedagogy at his school. The article begins with a review of Lecoq's own sports training and the critical influences on his early development as a sports coach and therapist. It then looks both at specific sports-related exercises that Lecoq used within his movement analysis sessions, and also at the overall structure of the school's training (the typical pattern of the classes, the classroom ethos, the integration of group/team activities, the nature of Lecoq's concept of ‘play’, and the development from exercise to dramatic genre). The article draws on personal experience as a student with Lecoq in the early 1980s, as well as writings on his work by recent commentators and by Lecoq himself.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)163-177
    JournalTheatre, Dance and Performance Training
    Issue number2 - special issue 'Sport'
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

    Bibliographical note

    This article is currently free to download from Taylor and Francis at: Author's note: This article is published in a Special Issue of the Theatre Dance and Performance Training journal, published by Routledge, of which I am guest editor. The special issue is the first special issue for the journal. This is the first article to examine in detail the influence of his early sports experiences on the teaching and theatre pedagogy of Jacques Lecoq, at his international school in Paris. Lecoq was a leading international figure in the development of actor and theatre training in the twentieth century. There is still little written on his teaching, and this article is important in setting the context for the development of his work.
    The article examines Lecoq’s early experiences as a sports trainer and sports therapist, and discusses how these experiences influenced the structure of Lecoq’s teaching, some of the key exercise sequences, and the ethos of his school. The article draws on writings by Lecoq and other commentators, as well as discussions with Fay Lecoq, his widow, and the author’s own experiences as a student at the School. The article includes rarely published photographs from the School archive.
    Lecoq is an internationally significant theatre pedagogue. Students from over the world have attended his school over the last fifty-six years, including Ariane Mnouchkine, Geoffrey Rush and Simon McBurney.


    • Jacques Lecoq
    • sports
    • movement training
    • play
    • pedagogy


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