Dance and the Alexander Technique Panel Discussion: a report

The panel discussion Dance and the Alexander Technique: Addressing Longevity in a Dancer’s Career, was co-produced by the Balance Arts Center and Movement Research (a part of Movement Research's Studies Project program). It was held at Dance Theater Workshop in NYC on October 15th from 6-8pm. Panel members included June Ekman, Eva Karzag, Shelley Senter, Jennifer Grove, and Katherine Mitchell. Ann Rodiger moderated the conversation.

This event provided clear evidence of how the Alexander Technique works over the long term and how it can affect people’s lives at a very fundamental level.

In preparation for the panel discussion potential questions were circulated among panel members so we would have ideas to contemplate before the conversation and be able to prepare beginning remarks. A few days before the event I started to get worried that we had collected a group of people who were so totally converted to the Alexander Technique way of thinking and that after about 5 minutes of discussion we would fall silent in a collective “Yes, the Alexander Technique is great” and have no where to go from there!

And there was, in fact, an agreement about how great and useful the Alexander Technique is. However, instead of landing on silence, the conversation evolved into something very inspiring and full. There was a shared sense of the power from the process of thoughtful whole mind/body awareness.

It became evident that the Alexander Technique is and has been the basic process, essence, and central core of each of the panelist’s unique dance experience. And the experience of that process had been guiding and informing the choices the panelists have made with technique, teaching, and choreography for a long time.

What emerged is that each person on the panel, all of whom have had quite different experiences of the Alexander Technique, dance training, performance experience, in various geographical locations, had an understanding and shared experience of the movement/energetic flow that is fundamental and underlies all movement we do. Through that understanding they have been able to dance and explore movement for a long time. And they continue to explore dance and movement in creatively satisfying situations.

One might say that if the Alexander Technique helps the dancer dance better and longer, it must really work for those of us who don’t jump around quite so much. It could even be more effective in helping us stay balanced if we aren’t using our body in such a seemingly extreme manner, challenging our balance, going upside down, and hanging out on one leg for so long, as dancers do. The dancer actually puts the Alexander Technique to the test in many ways as they are constantly learning and inventing new movements, movement sequences, and refining their use.

We are all dancers in our own way even if our range of movement and movement vocabulary may be considerably less extensive than that of a professional dancer. Though we don’t spend a huge portion of our lives focusing on sophisticated movement in the way dancers do, we can definitely benefit from the Technique. Thinking of our daily, work, and play movements as movement that can be played with, explored, and improved (no matter what the range of motion) can lead to longevity in everyone’s movement options and life in general!

What that means is that we can each discover a dance of balance and flow of movement/energy, wherever our lives lead us: painting the living room, playing golf, sitting at the computer, or leading meetings, for example. Study of the Alexander Technique gives us freedom and longevity in our activities, so we can fully explore our pursuits.

I also understood from the panelist is that the principles F. M. articulated are so fundamental that they sustain the interest and curiosity of intelligent and thoughtful people dedicated to movement as a profession for many years.

Movement Research posted a podcast and video of the discussion.
Check out the podcast here
Check out a short video excerpt here
Check out Movement Research's website here

The Balance Arts Center will be sponsoring a conference on Dance and the Alexander Technique in New York City in May. Stay tuned!