Character Embodiment through Movement

Taught by Jonelle Gunderson

Movement + Character Embodiment Class:

Jonelle Gunderson will be teaching a 3-class series (2 hours per week) that will be both practical and investigative — getting you out of your head and into your body, and ready to create a physical character by offering up tools that will help you embody them on stage & screen.

Jonelle will be drawing from various backgrounds, but primarily her training to become a teacher of the Mitzvah Technique (very similar to Alexander). 

Each two-hour class will focus on two parts:

Hour one: We will be looking at a series of simple exercises used to focus the mind, free the spine, and ‘drop in’ to the inter-sensory experience. We will use a combination of floor, chair, and standing work. This is not a dance or choreography class – students will be able to benefit from the exercises regardless of your movement background.

Hour two: Each student will get 30 minutes of dedicated time during the 3-week session to work on physical character building within a role of their choosing.

This can be:

  • a role from a past or upcoming class
  • a role from a past or upcoming audition
  • a character you are interested in exploring in your own creative work

Who would benefit from this class? Someone who:

  • is interested in how physicality and movement can influence your acting work
  • is looking to feel more ‘in your body’ and confident
  • has often wondered where to begin creating a physical character
  • can feel physically ‘locked’ during auditions or on-camera work

Maximum number of students: 6 students

Click here for schedule.

Jonelle has such an inviting energy that she brings to her class.

Mona Hillis

3 week session (2 hours per week)
$250 inc hst
Early-bird rate $225
Payment can be sent by e-tansfer to

1. Intro to Laban:

Goal of class: To give students a firm foundation in Laban principles, not starting with theory but led instead with embodied practice. The object is to get students familiar enough with the qualities from an experiential process, named using Laban Terms, ready for the subsequent Advanced Laban (Character and Camera) class.

Class Takeaways:
Introduction of basic concepts, and class format. Warm up “listening to your own body and releasing conscious control”, freely moving with no aesthetic concern. This will be repeated in each class as a warmup leading into exploration.

● Body led movement into focussing on Space – Direct and Indirect 

● Body led movement into focusing on Weight – Strong and light, then add Space. 

● Body led movement into focusing on Time: – Sudden and sustained. Add Space and weight and go through Effort Actions, roving from big to subtle but in order. 

● Body led movement into focusing on Flow – Free and Bound.

Add two qualities and then a transitional fourth to attempt a Transformation Drive in preparation for the advanced class. For those taking this class there will be homework.

Format: 3 x 2hr classes, establishing Laban terms and qualities, in freely improvised movement warm ups.

Maximum number of students: 6 students

2. Advanced Laban (Character + Camera):

Goal: To educate students on how to apply Laban principles and practice to characters, in any medium and in any performance scale. Using a variety of script-based exercises, students will learn how to use Transformation Drives for extreme transitions often associated with method “Beats”.

This will be done primarily with little overt focus on acting, but rather creating performance through physicality and allowing psychology and emotion to become part of a feedback loop. This establishes the level of automatic control of physicality with a level of improvisation underlying a script.

Class Takeaways: 

● Decoding Laban: Taking turns to watch. Name the qualities. 

● Decode and learn a speech from an existing performance 

● Use the learned script to add physicality and move from one physicality to another. ● Slideshow presentation on gesture classification. Adding gesture classification to notated character. 

● Applying physicality and gesture to a script through all the effort actions focussing on the least favorite. 

● Performing the chosen speech focussed on the Laban physical logic. (Filmed) ● Students will swap Laban notation but retain their speech, and now perform under the new physical conditions. It has to be believable, your own, even if it’s funny. It has to be intentional. (Filmed)


FORMAT: (PRE CLASS) Students will pick their favourite filmed performance that melds character with physicality. They will work on understanding it in Laban terms. Their choice will be confirmed in the first class. 

Classes will use the chosen scripts to increase the range and sense of physical play as performers.

Click here for schedule.

Intro: 3 week session (2 hours per week)
$275 inc hst
Early-bird rate $225
Payment can made through Stripe:
1. Intro to Laban (early-bird) – click here
2. Intro to Laban (regular rate) – click here

3 week session (2 hours per week)
$325 inc hst
Early-bird rate $275
Payment can made through Stripe:
1.. Advanced Laban (early-bird) – click here
2. Advanced Laban (regular rate) – click here