COMPANION

Dance

F. M. Alexander

There is a short criticism of dance as a ‘free expression’ in MSI, where Alexander writes that ‘unrestrained, unguided efforts of the children to dance are likely to prove extremely harmful.’[1] He goes to relate the story of a six-year old girl, whose coordination was interfered with by this style of free expression dancing.

First generation teachers

Marjorie Barstow, who was on Alexander’s first teacher training course, was a dancer and taught dancing. A short interview covers her early dance history.[2]

Writings – Book

  • Dance and the Alexander Technique by Rebecca Nettl-Fiol and Luc Vanier.[3]

Writings – General articles

  • ‘The Alexander Technique and dance’ by Phyllis G. Richmond is an all-round introduction to the issues confronting dancers and how the Alexander Technique can help from the perspective of a dance teacher and Alexander Technique teacher.[4]
  • ‘Movement and voice: Improvisation’ by Mary Cerny; on the movement classes she teaches, allowing free exploration of movement and voice.[5]
  • ‘Dance injuries – The process of learning in dance and the Alexander Technique’ by Tony Geeves covers briefly the widespread problem of injuries amongst professional dancers.[6]
  • ‘Dancing from direction’ by Sarah Gamble, a teacher of modern dance writes about introducing the Alexander Technique in her classes.[7]
  • ‘The Alexander Technique and the dancer – preventive care during activity’ by Phyllis G. Richmond, speaking at a Conference on the Alexander Technique and the Medical Profession, held by the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine and STAT, on the prevention of dance injuries and the rehabilitation of injured dancers.[8]
  • ‘Before you leap’ by Anne Bluethenthal; on how the Alexander Technique influenced her approach to dance; instead of seeing the body as a static set of conditions to be positioned and corrected, one is a continually changing process of events, reponses and choices.[9]
  • ‘The influence of the Alexander Technique on modern dance aesthetics’ by Christy Harris contains excerpts from a thesis. It contains a brief introduction to the Technique and a discussion of the similarities and influences between the Technique and Erick Hawkin, Trisha Brown, Eva Karczag and Shelley Senter.[10]
  • ‘Alexander Technique in movement and dance improvisation’ by Elisabeth Molle, Renate Wehner.[11]
  • ‘The influence of the Alexander Technique on modern dance aesthetics’ by Christy Harris is an introduction to the Technique as well as considering how the Technique has affected a new trend in modern dance, citing Erick Hawkin and Trisha Brown as examples.[12]
  • ‘Dance and the Alexander Technique’ by Rachel Rist [13] discusses the inclusion of the Alexander Technique at The Arts Educational School, Tring, for the last five years, and concludes:
  • The Alexander Technique is valued by us as good preventative care to help avoid possible future problems, and also as an effective tool in working with established postural problems.[14]
  • ‘Alexander in professional dance’ by Michael Schumacher; a professional dancer pays tribute to the Alexander Technique.[15]

Conferences on dance and the Alexander Technique

  • ‘Report on the ninth international association of dance medicine and science conference 1999’ by Madeleine White concludes that the Alexander Technique is becoming more familiar in the dance world.[16]
  • ‘Freedom to move: Conference on dance and the Alexander Technique’ by Laura Smith reports on the conference.[17]
  • ‘Renewing our Russian connections’ by Lisa First reports on the teaching of the Alexander Technique at the 2008 Eight International Festival of Movement and Dance in Yaroslavl, Russia.[18]
  • ‘How the use of the self triumphed over dependence on a machine!’ by Madeline Samuelson-White is a report of a talk she gave at the Conference of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, New York, 2002.[19]

The Direction ‘Dance’ issue

  • ‘Authentic Movement’ by Aileen Crow; Authentic Movement is an expressive improvisational movement practice that allows a group of participants a type of free association of the body.[20]
  • ‘Dancing, Marjorie Barstow interviewed’ by Marsha Paludan covers Barstow’s own dancing experience (she had a dance studio) and her training with Alexander.[21]
  • ‘As yet untitled’ by Eva Karczag; on using aspects of the Technique in her dance classes, which contain no style, but encourages each person to find their own way of moving.[22]
  • ‘Sometimes wrestling, always dancing’ by Elizabeth Garren; diary entries on dancing and the Alexander Technique.[23]
  • ‘Dance therapy and the Alexander Technique’ by Linda Murrow; on the similarities and differences between dance/movement therapy and the Technique.[24]
  • ‘Is this dance made of cake?’ by Crispin Spaeth; on ideas on how the Technique can help choreographers to create dances and align performers with the intentions of those dances.[25]

Research

  • ‘Preliminary research into head and shoulder balance in dancers’ by Sarah Irvine; the object of the study was to analyse dancers’ upper body posture, movement performance and self-confidence before and after Alexander Technique lessons.[26]
  • ‘Dancers’ application of the Alexander Technique’ by Fernande Girard and Lawrence Smith reports on master’s study describing the experiences of professional contemporary dancers applying the Technique (each receiving 20 lessons over 10 weeks), and on their experiences of teaching undergraduate dance students in a university setting.[27]
  • ‘The Use of Inhibition to Create Dancer’s Spontaneity in Improvisation’ by Soile Lahdenperä is an overview of the questions and findings of the author’s research included in a doctoral study at the Theatre Academy of Finland. For example, she experimented with different ways to use the Alexander Technique while making a dance piece.[28]

Body mapping and dance

  • ‘Decoding dancerspeak’ by Robin Gilmore; on using body mapping for dances, using the example of the spine having curves.[29]
  • What Every Dancer Needs to Know About the Body by Robin Gilmore.[30]

Video

  • For Dancers, The Alexander Technique by Jane Kosminsky is a 2-DVD set. It shows Jane Kosminsky teaching such basic movements as plié, tendu, bending, jumping to some students at the Julliard School in New York. It contains interviews with three professional dancers who described how they use the Alexander Technique.[31]

See also Contact Improvisation, The use of anatomy and physiology.

References

[1] Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 1996), p. 76.
[2] ‘Dancing, Marjorie Barstow interviewed’ by Marsha Paludan in Direction vol. 1, no. 10 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1993), pp. 382–83.
[3] Dance and the Alexander Technique by Rebecca Nettl-Fiol and Luc Vanier, University of Illinois Press, 2011).
[4] ‘The Alexander Technique and dance’ by Phyllis G. Richmond in The Alexander Journal no. 11 edited by Adam Nott (STAT, 1991), pp. 19–28.
[5] ‘Movement and voice: Improvisation’ by Mary Cerny in The Congress Papers 1988: Towards Unity edited by Jeremy Chance (Direction, 1994), pp. 78–79.
[6] ‘Dance injuries – The process of learning in dance and the Alexander Technique’ by Tony Geeves in The Congress Papers 1994, The Meaning of Change, 125 Years On, edited by David Garlick (Direction, 1996), pp. 35–36.
[7] ‘Dancing from direction’ by Sarah Gamble in NASTAT News issue no. 23, Winter 1994  (NASTAT, 1994), p. 15.
[8] ‘The Alexander Technique and the dancer – Preventive care during activity’ by Phyllis G. Richmond in Performing Arts Medicine News, vol. 3, no. 2 (BAPAM, 1995) pp. 34–41.
[9] ‘Before you leap’ by Anne Bluethenthal in Curiosity Recaptured edited by Jerry Sontag (Mornum Time Press, 1996), pp. 75–85.
[10] ‘The influence of the Alexander Technique on modern dance aesthetics’ by Christy Harris in STATNews vol. 5, no. 4 edited by Malcolm Williamson (STAT, 1999), pp. 20–22.
[11] ‘Alexander Technique in movement and dance improvisation’ by Elisabeth Molle, Renate Wehner in The Congress Papers 1999, An Ongoing Discovery edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (STATBooks, 2001), pp. 297–98.
[12] ‘The influence of the Alexander Technique on modern dance aesthetics’ by Christy Harris, NASTAT News issue no. 43, Winter 1999, pp. 22–24. Also in STATNews vol. 5, no. 4 edited by Malcolm Williamson (STAT, May 1999), pp. 20–22.
[13] ‘Dance and the Alexander Technique’ by Rachel Rist in The Alexander Journal no. 19 edited by Francesca Greenoak (STAT, 2003), pp. 34–36.
[14] ‘Dance and the Alexander Technique’ by Rachel Rist in The Alexander Journal no. 19 edited by Francesca Greenoak (STAT, 2003), p. 36.
[15] ‘Alexander in professional dance’ by Michael Schumacher in The Alexander Journal no. 21 edited by Francesca Greenoak (STAT, 2006), p. 5.
[16] ‘Report on the ninth international association of dance medicine and science conference 1999’ by Madeleine White in STATNews vol. 5, no. 6 edited by Malcolm Williamson (STAT, 2000), pp. 16.
[17] ‘Freedom to move: Conference on dance and the Alexander Technique’ by Laura Smith in AmSAT News issue no. 83 (Summer 2010), p. 17.
[18] ‘Renewing our Russian connections’ by Lisa First in AmSAT News issue no. 80 (Summer 2009), p. 17–18.
[19] ‘How the use of the self triumphed over dependence on a machine!’ by Madeline Samuelson-White in The Alexander Journal no. 19 edited by Francesca Greenoak (STAT, 2003), pp. 37–39.
[20] ‘Authentic Movement’ by Aileen Crow in Direction vol. 1, no. 10 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1993), pp. 374–77.
[21] ‘Dancing’ Marjorie Barstow interviewed by Marsha Paludan in Direction vol. 1, no. 10 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1993), pp. 382–83.
[22] ‘As yet untitled’ by Eva Karczag in Direction vol. 1, no. 10 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1993), pp. 384–86.
[23] ‘Sometimes wrestling, always dancing’ by Elizabeth Garren in Direction vol. 1, no. 10 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1993), pp. 389–91.
[24] ‘Dance therapy and the Alexander Technique’ by Linda Murrow in Direction vol. 1, no. 10 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1993), pp. 398–401.
[25] ‘Is this dance made of cake?’ by Crispin Spaeth in Galvanizing Performance by Cathy Madden, Kathleen Juhl (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2017), pp. 315–27.
[26] ‘Preliminary research into head and shoulder balance in dancers’ by Sarah Irvine in The Alexander Journal no. 21 edited by Francesca Greenoak (STAT, 2006), pp. 30–39.
[27] ‘Dancers’ application of the Alexander Technique’ by Fernande Girard and Lawrence Smith in The Congress Papers 2008, From Generation to Generation Vol. 1 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (STATBooks, 2009), pp. 190–206.
[28] ‘The Use of Inhibition to Create Dancer’s Spontaneity in Improvisation’ by Soile Lahdenperä in The Congress Papers 2008, From Generation to Generation vol. 2 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (STATBooks, 2009), pp. 24–32.
[29] ‘Decoding dancerspeak’ by Robin Gilmore in The Congress Papers 2004, Exploring the Principles edited by Anne Oppenheimer (STATBooks, 2005), pp. 143–48.
[30] What Every Dancer Needs to Know About the Body by Robin Gilmore (Andover Press, 2005).
[31] For Dancers, The Alexander Technique by Jane Kosminsky (The Balance of Well-Being, 2006).
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