7 Principles of Meyerholds Biomechanics


literally - refusal.

Otkas is the preparation movement preceding the actual intended movement. Like reaching back or taking a swing before the throw. This is where the idea or intention is born.


literally - sending.

Posyl is the realisation of the intended movement.


literally - stance.

Stoika is the dynamic fixation at the end of a movement phrase with the perspective of a new Otkas.


literally - the brake.

Tormos enhances the precision and musicality of a movement. It is often used at the end of a movement sequence.


literally - foreshortening (from the french word raccourci)

Rakurs means the perspective shortening. The actors offers the audience a various range of his body perspectives.


literally - counterpoint

While making a scenic movement, the actor includes a countermovement to generate a bigger impact of his initial movement and form.


literally - the grouping

It is a physical concentration, often around the point of command (solar plexus) and in connection with the Otkas, which creates a dramatic tension in the body and in space.

Meyerhold's Biomechanics - An Artistic Way of Thinking

To this day, too little is known about the Biomechanics as a practical training and acting system for actors. The reason for this is that the long-term development of the Biomechanics was undoubtedly very much determined by the historical context in which it came about, both politically and socially as well as technologically. We are in the turbulent Russian avant-garde of the 1920s. Misunderstandings as if the Biomechanics were a technique or, much worse, an 'acting style' still put them in the niche of exotic theater today.

In reality, everything in the Biomechanics revolves around the organization of material, i.e. the body in motion. The actor uses movement principles to better understand the organization of the body in space and to use it artistically. “The art of the actor consists in the organization of his material, that is, in the ability to use his body's means of expression correctly,” says Meyerhold.

The leading principle of the Biomechanics is that every movement is carried out by the whole body, "When the nose works, the whole body works" (Meyerhold), a basic principle which is very familiar to dancers.

One of the most formative principles is the 'OTKAS' principle, in which every movement arises from an 'opposite' movement, e.g. backing out before throwing. The 'Otkas' stands for the idea: the swing is the idea of throwing.The 'discovery' of the diverse applications of this principle in one's own everyday life is, as it were, a prerequisite for becoming aware of the artistic potential of the Biomechanics. To study or train the principles, the actor uses grotesque and eccentric forms that are influenced by the Commedia dell arte and the Asian theater. It is precisely this aspect of eccentricity that unfortunately has led some to regard the Bomechanics as an 'acting style' today.

Another interesting Biomechanical principle for actors is the 'RAKURS'. A term from photography that deals with the perspective of the body in space. The conscious handling of the 'Rakurs' offers the actor a tool that can be used, regardless of the direction, to compose the space with his body and to create a dramatic tension on the stage. The actor not only leads his character but also appears on stage as a creative artist. In Meyerhold's lecture 'The Actor of the Future and the Biomechanics' on June 12, 1922, Meyerhold says it this way: "The actor unites the organizer and the organized" (ie artist and material).

Actors trained in Biomechanics usually master an extremely wide range of expressive possibilities and are able to change the acting-style in the blink of an eye, from expressive-artificial to reduced naturalism up to slapstick and clownery. The astonishing versatility of the Biomechanics and its ability to integrate new influences into its own system make it an effective instrument in today's challenges for actors.

Learn more about Etudes...

The etudes are at the center of biomechanical training. They are both training and demonstration of the biomechanical principles of movement. Each etude follows a fixed sequence with a recognizable beginning and a defined end. Movement sequences can also appear in scenic variations and correspond to the circumstances of the play environment, the scenic context and the requirements of the role.


The sequence of the studies is subject to a segmentation of individual movements and is structured by a cycle of basic elements or by the sequence of individual movement phases.


The movement elements of the etudes are called: Otkas (preparatory countermovement) / Posyl (execution) / Stoika (dynamic fixation) / Tormos (“brake”, control of movement) and Rakurs (intermediate stage of movement) - these elements are also called hieroglyphs of biomechanics.


In Meyerhold's second studio (1913-1917), the first versions of the etudes were developed from daily rehearsals. In the Meyerhold workshops of the 1920s (GWYRM / GWYTM) they are further developed into the well-known fixed movement sequences and their sequence is fixed.

Etude - Shooting the Bow

Etude - The Throwing of the Stone