In this book I have advanced a concept, borrowed from both Hamlet and movement science, called smoothness. And I have identified it by some of the other names it has been given in performance histories – yugen, sprezzatura, tormoz, leichtigkeit, élan. I have asserted that the concept is inherent in social cognition, because it directly influences the way in which people perceive other people’s behaviour and form intuitive judgements about them; hence, smoothness is a moral category as well as an aesthetic one. Such an assertion can hardly be disputed when one looks into the (often depressing) history of how people who struggled to ‘move well’ have been treated. But I take the optimistic view in seeing that, as the social morality of self-fulfilment continues to make inroads into Western culture, definitions of what we mean by moving well are opening up, in the interests of freedom of expression, to include bodily shapes and movement paradigms previously held to be ungraceful. That story is not for this book. Instead, I have explored smoothness as an aesthetic concept, seeing it as a basic component of an effective performance. I would argue it is probably the single most important one. There is a risk here that I am simply making a selective argument for the type of acting I happen to prefer. So I should like here to offer a method of research that could provide evidence for such a claim.
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