Function 2 Flow | Form
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One might analyze, teach and assess movement from the perspective of refining outer bodily form, e.g., the shape and pathway of a movement (as detailed by Laban & Lawrence, 1974; Laban, 1948; Laban, 1975) that can be performed on the basis of the functional capacities. Movement Form may be initially construed as the fundamental movement skills – those of locomotion, stability and manipulation. These skills can be reduced to techniques of, say, jumping for distance and landing to preserve that distance, balancing in a handstand and then rolling forwards, or throwing a chest pass with a basketball. Yet, a skillful action rests essentially on one’s capability of executing a motion or movement sequence in a particular activity context. Hence, one might also attend to Form as it applies to the game or activity as well. It is, after all, the particular configuration and composition of the long jump pit that determines the nature of the leap and landing. The mat surface’s resilience invites the handstand and cushions the roll. The movements of players on the basketball court suggest the expediency of the chest pass. Yet, whereas the contextual references for movement capabilities have traditionally involved just the constructed environments of gymnasia, studios, indoor and outdoor courts and playing fields, the inclusion of alternative activities infer a much wider range of activity settings. As Margaret Whitehead points out: Children need to learn how to engage with the “phenomena of the natural world” such as “gravity, gradient, fixed and moving objects, and water” (Whitehead, 2001). The motions of such engagement need also to be applied to the activities that take place in constructed environments, and increasingly so, those environments in which the activities are technologically mediated, from the use of simple tools and equipment, to digital media. This array of contexts then suggests not simply the application of fundamental movement skills to particular games and sports, gymnastics, dance and alternative environment pursuits, but also an exploration of movement capabilities that may well be constitutive of newly created activity forms. The incorporation of meditative and martial arts (e.g. Ragoonaden, Cherkowski and Berg, 2012) along with circus arts and flow arts (e.g. Price, 2012) in health and physical education programs is indicative of the range of contextualized capabilities that can be developed.


When you experience a mainstream or alternative activity, you may consider the following prompts to better refine movement form:

  • What body shapes/positions make it easier to perform your activity?
  • What body shapes/positions make it harder to perform your activity?
  • Think of your body, from head-to-toe, with attention on bony reference points such as the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle, and describe in detail where you wish to place each part during the beginning, middle, and end phases of your movement.
  • What cues/positional tips could you tell a peer to improve their performance?
  • How does your bodily form adapt to different conditions and environments in which your activity is experienced (different terrains, weather conditions, objects, equipment, etc.)?
  • How might the refining of body positioning in this activity transfer to other physical activities?