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Abstract

This qualitative study describes the experience of professional contemporary dancers studying and applying the Alexander Technique to their dancing. This study was motivated by: 1. years of teaching both dance and somatics, 2. a strong desire to better understand how the Alexander Technique can be applied by dancers, and 3. a gap that the researchers perceived in the available literature connecting these two fields. Throughout years of teaching dance and somatics the researchers observed the increasing challenges that dance students had to confront in order to meet the requirements of today's dance careers. The movement efficiency that makes dancers less susceptible to injury and, at the same time, renders them more expressive, requires the development of acute sensorial awareness as well as the sharpening of cognitive faculties. As teachers of dance and somatics, the researchers became increasingly aware of the importance and the difficulty of applying somatic methods to dance training at both professional and pre-professional levels. Somatic study is now part of the curriculum of many professional schools and university programs in dance worldwide. It has been the subject of studies looking at its application to various aspects of dance. In order to facilitate integration of somatic concepts to vocational dance classes, the researchers thought it was relevant to look at how professional dancers use the Alexander Technique both in their professional career and daily life. Just as it takes years to train a dancer, it may take years to incorporate the complexity of somatic work into one's dancing. Looking at what somatic education means for professional dancers can inspire the development of teaching strategies informed by professional practice.
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DANCER’ APPLICATION OF THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE
Sylvie Fortin, PhD., Université du Québec à Montréal
Fernande Girard, MA., Université du Québec à Montréal
Fernande Girard : fernandeg@videotron.ca Fax: (514)495-3513 Tel: (514)495-3513
5126, avenue de Lorimier
Montréal, QC H2H 2C2
Canada
Sylvie Fortin: Sylvie.fortin@uqam.ca
Université du Québec à Montréal
Case postale 8888, succursale Centre-ville
Montréal, Québec, H3C 3P8
Canada
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DANCERS’ APPLICATION OF THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE
This qualitative study describes the experience of professional contemporary dancers studying
and applying the Alexander Technique to their dancing. This study was motivated by: 1) years
of teaching both dance and somatics, 2) a strong desire to better understand how the Alexander
Technique can be applied by dancers, and 3) a gap that the researchers perceived in the available
literature connecting these two fields. Throughout years of teaching dance and somatics the
researchers observed the increasing challenges that dance students had to confront in order to
meet the requirements of today’s dance careers. The movement efficiency that makes dancers
less susceptible to injury and, at the same time, renders them more expressive, requires the
development of acute sensorial awareness as well as the sharpening of cognitive faculties. As
teachers of dance and somatics, we became increasingly aware of the importance and the
difficulty of applying somatic methods to dance training at both professional and pre-
professional levels. Somatic study is now part of the curriculum of many professional schools
and university programs in dance worldwide. It has been the subject of studies looking at its
application to various aspects of dance. In order to facilitate integration of somatic concepts to
vocational dance classes, the researchers thought it was relevant to look at how professional
dancers use the Alexander Technique both in their professional career and daily life. Just as it
takes years to train a dancer, it may take years to incorporate the complexity of somatic work
into one’s dancing. Looking at what somatic education means for professional dancers can
inspire the development of teaching strategies informed by professional practice.
3
Qualitative study on the Alexander technique
Although many articles have been written on the subject of dance and the Alexander Technique,
(Batson1; Bluenthal2; Harris3; Huxley, Leach & Stevens4; Richmond5), the experience of
professional dancers integrating the technique in dance has not been studied empirically. Closer
to our study is the work of Oliver6 who investigated the effects of Alexander Technique lessons
on dance training. In Oliver’s study, most of the reported data had to do with the researcher’s
and the students’ frustration with the rigid pedagogy that they were experiencing within a
university dance department, and the failure of the system to adequately address their needs as
developing artists. She suggested that: “In a department that placed a heavy emphasis upon
technical expertise, it is not surprising that these individuals struggled intensely with the
contrapuntal issue of artistry and the meaningfulness of their dance experience. […] The desire
to be self-expressive and to contribute something of their own was a recurrent theme”.
Other qualitative studies have examined the effects of the study of the Alexander Technique on
sports performance7 and on artists from specific disciplines, notably actors8, singers9, flutists10and
pianists11. For example, Kaplan12 described and compared the experiences of six pianists in
applying the Alexander Technique to their piano playing. The author concluded that “[…] the
Alexander Technique is not only useful for dealing with problems of pain, discomfort, tension
and stage fright, but that it provides a model of use for the prevention of injuries”. Krim13, in his
qualitative study with athletes, recalled their experience and the perceived effectiveness of the
technique in athletic performance enhancement. He concluded that the athletes in the study
reported an increased sense of control and mastery, as well as enhanced ability to learn new
skills. They reported, as well, that benefits of studying the Alexander Technique extended to
injury prevention and faster recovery from injury.
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Methodology
To describe the experience of the participant dancers we made the decision to conduct a
qualitative study. According to Patton14, qualitative study is well suited when one is
investigating the meaning of experience.
The participants in the study were two professional dancers working with a renowned
professional dance company. We chose a Montréal contemporary dance company (Québec,
Canada) that presents the work of a variety of national and international choreographers, so that
the dancers were not attached to a particular choreographic language, but were constantly coping
with diverse movement styles.
Eva, 30 years old, had been dancing professionally for the last ten years. Her training was
mostly in contemporary dance, although she had done some ballet, beginning at age six. Eva
was also a choreographer whose work has been presented in various cities in Canada. Eva had
had some exposure to other somatic methods, most notably to Body-Mind Centering, and she
had studied Pilates and Gyrotonics. At the time of the study, she had had no major accidents or
surgery. Eva stated that she had heard positive things about the Alexander Technique, but had
never studied it, so she took the opportunity of participating in the study to explore her interests.
Jacqueline, 44 years old, began dancing at the age of three with classical ballet. At the age of 15,
she added modern dance to her training, studying the techniques of Cunningham, Graham and
Limon. At the time of the study, she had been dancing professionally for over 25 years. During
this time, she had participated in the creation of 75 works from some 40 choreographers. Over
the years, Jacqueline had had a fair amount of experience with various kinds of somatic work,
including Antigymnastique, Pilates and the Feldenkrais Method. Some 15 years prior to this
study, she studied the Alexander Technique over a period of one year. Jacqueline had had no
major surgery but did suffer a fairly serious automobile accident in which her pelvis was
displaced and ligaments were torn. Jacqueline stated that a recurrent problem she had with her
back was also a factor that led her to participate in this study.
The Alexander Technique practitioner involved in the study was Lawrence Smith. At the time of
the study, he had taught the technique for about 13 years, working with many artists both in
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Canada and the United States He has a strong back ground in theatre and dance, as well as in
several sports. When I asked Lawrence, in our first interview, why he was interested in
participating in this study, he replied:
Because of my ongoing interest in the application of the Alexander Technique to the
performing arts. I see it as an opportunity to work with experienced professional dancers
who have an interest in the work, but who might not otherwise have considered taking two
lessons per week for 10 straight weeks. Today, it is common practice for students to take
one lesson per week for a number of weeks. It is really very difficult to sustain the work, let
alone progress with it, under these circumstances, especially when the student is involved in
intense activity, such as dance rehearsal or performance. He leaves the lesson with a fragile
new organization that must be almost immediately abandoned or is lost in a rehearsal
situation.
Clearance for the study was obtained from the Université du Québec à Montréal, and ethical
guidelines established by the university were followed throughout. Consent forms were signed
by all participants. Pseudonyms were used for the dancers. Each participant dancer received 20
private, hour-long sessions in the Alexander Technique over a ten week period. Data was
collected from April 14 through June 20, 2003, and consisted of three individual semi-structured
interviews conducted throughout the research process, participant journals, and a group interview
at the end of the study. Examples of the questions asked during the interviews with the dancers
include: You are studying the Alexander Technique; can you describe in detail what you have
been experiencing since the beginning of your study? What is your experience of applying the
Alexander Technique in your dancing? How does the Alexander Technique affect you?
The data was analyzed inductively following the procedures of the grounded theory. According
to Patton15: “Inductive analysis means that the patterns, themes, and categories of analysis come
from the data; they emerge out of the data rather than being imposed on them prior to data
collection and analysis” Patton detailed four types of triangulation used in qualitative research:
triangulation of sources, of methods, of analysis, and of theories. The use of journals and
interviews to record the experiences of the participants served to provide triangulation of
methods used in data collection for this study.
The 20 private sessions followed the basic principles of the Alexander Technique as put forth in
Alexander’s writing, outlined by the following concepts: recognition of force of habit;
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recognition of faulty sensory appreciation; inhibition; direction; primary control, and means-
whereby16.
Results/Discussion
The results will be presented by first recalling the experience of the participants within the
Alexander Technique sessions. Second, we will recollect their experience applying the
Alexander Technique to dance, and, third, their experience in other activities. Finally, we will
describe some changes of body/self perception evident in the participants’ journals.
Experience of the dancers within the Alexander Technique sessions
Both dancers relate their experiences in their Alexander Technique sessions as confusing or
destabilizing when their usual sensations of movement are either no longer present or are quite
different. In an interview, Eva comments on the subject: “I’m used to working with the body in
a very direct way, asking my muscles to do something, whereas here I’m asking my bones to
move in a certain direction, and I feel like this is sort of indirect, at least I don’t have concrete
responses.” In Alexander Technique pedagogy, the concept of faulty sensory kinesthesia is
predominant. What feels right is probably what people do habitually. In order to modify a
pattern of movement one has to acknowledge that it may feel wrong for a period of time.
Alexander17 wrote,
[…] since our particular way of reacting to stimuli is in accordance with our familiar habits
of use, the incentive to try to gain any given end is inextricably bound up with this familiar
use. […] As long as the conditions of use and the associated feeling are wrong in a person,
the incentive to gain a given end by the familiar wrong use appears to be almost irresistible.
Eva says that she does not experience the sensations she is used to depending on when she
initiates movement without her habitual preparation: “I don’t feel my muscles firing. So it is
difficult for me to know if I am doing it or not.” And Jacqueline writes, early in her journal:
“This ‘minimum effort’ is confusing. For me, the notion of effort represents a reference point in
the movement. Effort establishes muscularly the sensation of movement”. In other words, she
uses the sensation of effort to inform her about the movement itself.
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In the preceding statements, both dancers express their difficulty in moving without the familiar
sense of effort that usually accompanied their actions the sense of the “muscles firing”.
Toward the end of the study, their comments change to reflect a growing understanding that they
could be guided by something other than the habitual sense of muscular tension, and that with
the Alexander Technique they are cultivating “an open awareness of the body”. Jacqueline
writes in her journal: “Keep in mind opening, expansion and lengthening, and allow the body to
be available to this. Cultivate an open attention to the body to dissolve blockages or
crystallizations in movement. It is a Titanic endeavor, growing from simple principles”. Here,
she expresses her experience of the procedures she applies when addressing habitual movement,
and the difficulty presented by the habitual postural set, which she very nicely describes as
“crystallization in the movement.” Jones18, a practitioner of the Alexander Technique and a
professor at Tufts University who conducted over 30 scientific studies on the technique, writes
on the postural set, the unconscious muscular preparation that precedes movement:
When a stimulus is presented for the first time, many responses are available, including not
making response at all. If one of these responses is selected and learned, it can be repeated
without loss of choice as long as the process remains conscious. If it drops below the level
of consciousness, a “set” will be established linking the stimulus with the response, which
will then occur automatically whether it is appropriate or not. [....] The result is a habit
which operates unconsciously (like an innate reflex) and which is resistant to change.
Inhibition raises the level of tonic activity in the nervous system, brings the operation of the
habit to a conscious level, and restores choice (including the choice of making the original
response).
Jones used electromyography, stroboscopic photography, stress gauge platforms, and subject
interviews to assess the difference between an action carried out habitually and one carried out
when the practitioner was assisting the subject in maintaining an improved head-neck-back
relationship.
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Alexander Technique principles applied to dance
Evidence of the application of Alexander’s principle of following the means-whereby rather than
end-gaining appears in the interviews and journals of the two participant dancers. The following
observation, which Jacqueline makes in her journal, shows her growing attention to the process:
I have the impression that everything becomes better organized with less effort. There is a
better chance that the pelvis will place itself in suspension over the legs. It seems that not
concentrating my attention and effort in the pelvic region allows (rather than forces) it to
find its alignment and to fall with its natural weight. Also, I do not force a realignment of
my pelvis, but I create the vertical space to allow it to find its place over the legs, while
remaining in harmony with the spine and the head.
Here, she is keeping her awareness on the primary control and working through the use of
directions, rather than end-gaining by trying to position her parts according to a sense of proper
placement. Her use of the word “allow” suggests a change in her process and in what she seeks.
Later, Jacqueline wrote of her lack of success in applying the Alexander principles when she was
preoccupied in dance rehearsal:
In other sequences, more vertical or more rapid, I am still too preoccupied by the search for
various points of initiation of movement, such as the shoulder or the knees or the hip (then to
let myself follow the repercussion of this initiation) to remain connected to the primary
control, as I have understood and experienced it in the session and in everyday movements.
She choses a non-endgaining approach to the study, deciding not to anticipate results: “I opt for
an approach of small doses in order not to become obsessive or completely discouraged. I
conceive of the link between Alexander and dance as an exploration that leaves the field open to
many possibilities, for discovery, but also for fumbling and lack of results”.
Eva, who was choreographing during the study period, made reference to a similar shift in
thinking. In an interview, she speaks of the often end-gaining attitude that one adopts in
rehearsal: “What happens in rehearsal often is a certain, just wanting to get something done, get
something learned. […] you want to get them [the dancers] to execute a movement or learn a
piece of choreography, to teach a piece of choreography… and not let that turn into tension,
which it often adds.” After her 16th session, Eva wrote about the Alexander Technique: “I think I
can still learn from this. The key seems to me (at least in the short-term) in letting go of the
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result, in shifting the desire to succeed out of the first place in the list of priorities. How I would
love to dance with such simplicity.”
Dancers have, in some respects, attempted to develop heightened awareness of themselves,
which enables them to reproduce movement more accurately over time. Using strategies such as
spatial orientation and shape, for example, they strongly depend on acquired habits as a means to
reproducing movement. Attempts to abandon these habitual patterns often lead to an immediate
sense of loss of control, and this, however temporary, can be more difficult for a trained mover
used to snapping off multiple pirouettes than it is for an office worker. Dancers may be tempted
to revert to habitual patterns to achieve what their dance teachers or choreographers demand.
In our final interview, Jacqueline, when asked to describe how she integrated the Alexander
Technique into her rehearsal work, acknowledges that it was in her training that she could most
easily apply the Alexander Technique to dance. Because she trains by herself, it is easier for her
to stop, take time and experiment with the concept she is working with in the Alexander sessions.
She states:
In rehearsal, it is much more difficult. It is possible at times. […] It was possible when I
broke down movements and when I went at my own rhythm. From the moment that I was
able to attack new sequences with consciousness of certain ideas from Alexander, notably
the primary control, at that moment I could sense a difference in the activity, in the speed
and continuity. But, before this, it took time and much trial and error with the new material
to make use of these ideas.
The difficulty here expressed by Jacqueline is probably familiar to any dancer attempting to
apply the Alexander Technique to his work. How often does a dancer have time when learning
new material to experiment and progressively own the movement? While process may have its
importance in dance creation, it often disappears in the rehearsal of already choreographed work,
as it may in dance education. Several Alexander practitioners who have written on dance
(Batson19, Oliver20) have pointed out how dance education is too often geared towards the
production of pre-established results, which tends to create difficulties for dancers, including
failure to perform to expectation, lack of confidence, excessive tension, and often, chronic injury.
Both dancers acknowledge that it seems easier to apply Alexander concepts to ballet than to
modern dance. Jacqueline states that she felt this was due to the verticality and the “rectitude’ of
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the torso in ballet. Eva feels that it is easier due to the repetition prevalent in ballet classes.
Long21, who conducted a qualitative study on the integrating the Feldenkrais Method and
contemporary dance training, reports that in a group of 10 dancers all participants (with the
exception of two who were not taking ballet class during the study) noted having an easier time
applying the principles of the Feldenkrais Method to ballet and yoga than to contemporary
dance. He theorizes that “Perhaps these new sensations became more prominent as students
engaged in a form of movement that was almost habitually familiar. In the ballet class, the
instances of somatic transfer seemed to help students apply their new sensory experience to a
familiar context. […] In yoga practices, extended length of time spent in postures may allow the
opportunity for new sensory experiences learned in another context to become more prominent”.
Alexander Technique and activities other than dance
The participant dancers acknowledge change and integration of the Alexander Technique in
activities other than dance, for example in cycling and in writing for Eva, and in walking, sitting,
standing for Jacqueline. At one point in the study, Eva writes about becoming aware of the
undue tension that she placed in her arm and hand when writing. She notes that when she
attempts to write without the familiar excessive tension, she feels like she is losing control of the
pencil. Alexander22 writes that, “People don’t do what they feel to be wrong when they are
trying to be right.” Eva comments further about her experience of bicycling: “Bicycling, which
is usually the first activity that I do after a session, is becoming a different experience. I find
myself lengthening out of the handle bar rather than sinking into it. My torso feels very light and
my shoulders free of tension. In this state I feel very open to the world.”
Jacqueline remarks on the disappearance of her chronic headaches since the beginning of the
study period, and reveals how, when the warning signs that usually signal the onset of migraine
begin, she is able to use the Alexander Technique principles to get herself out of trouble. She
also recalls successfully applying the principles of the technique when her back is beginning to
tighten up while she is dancing in a discotheque. The disappearance of chronic discomfort as a
result of improved use, although it is not necessarily the primary objective for the student of the
Alexander Technique, is not surprising, especially when one considers that Alexander developed
11
his method while in search of relief from chronic vocal problems. Indeed, it is the case that most
of the somatic pioneers, including Feldenkrais, Sweigard and Gerda Alexander, evolved their
techniques in response to the failure of mainstream healing modalities to address their individual
health problems.
Change of perception: from body to self
In both dancers’ journals, there is a slow evolution in the type of data reported, as well as in the
terminology used. For example, early on, Eva reports information primarily related to body
parts. After her first session, she writes: “The standing posture is different than what I have
worked on before, with the head forward and the back, including the hips, back. I usually work
to bring my hips forward, so we’ll see what this brings.” Later, she shifts to information
revealing a modification in her thinking and the emergence of a sense of globality. For example,
she writes: “I think that I am beginning to understand the directions necessary for this movement.
Like a giant zig-zag through the body.” From the 15th session on, she begins to use terminology
with which she refers to herself holistically, terms such as: “mind/body”, “self”, and “my self”,
relating elements of internal sensation and at the same time of openness to the world.
In Jacqueline’s early entries in her journal, she writes about “a sensation of length and width”
and a “vague sensation of depth”. She separates the sensations, and writes of them only in
relation to specific parts of her body. For example, after the fourth session, she writes: “I like to
be guided in the sitting and standing work. New! Try to be available for the change of level
from the top of the head, the neck and the knees. Letting the knees fold goes generally well, but
I forget the sense of lengthening, of direction of the head”. From her 12th session, she begins
relating these concepts to the whole, and begins writing and speaking in more global terms, with
less differentiation of the parts. After her 13th session, she records: “The more the session goes
on, the more I understand the moving outward. Pleasant sensation of globality”. The use of the
verb “allowing”, in place of verbs like “placing” or “doing”, begins to appear in the journals of
both dancers toward the middle of the study.
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Summary
At the study’s conclusion, there were some anticipated as well as unanticipated results, which we
will briefly summarize. Due to the relatively short duration of the study, 10 weeks, we
anticipated limited integration of Alexander Technique material to dance. Although both
dancers acknowledged, at the end of the study, that they had experienced difficulty applying the
Alexander Technique during the performance and rehearsal of new material, both mentioned
improvements in everyday activities, and in work that they did on their own. For example, one
dancer mentioned positive results when she had time within the rehearsal period to experiment
by herself at the side of the studio. The other dancer pointed out that she expected to feel
changes in her dancing in six months, noting that she felt that she first needed to apply the
Alexander Technique in low-stress situations in which she felt less pressure to seek immediate
results.
The study revealed the initial challenge experienced by the dancers concerning how they felt
kinaesthetically. The dancers expressed the difficulty, frustration, and even the destabilisation
they experienced in the conflict between their habitual sensations and the new sensations (or lack
thereof) engendered by the Alexander Technique sessions.
The study demonstrated that, even when psycho-physical change was not solidly, consciously
integrated into dance rehearsal and performance, there was the possibility of transfer of
principles and strategies from the Alexander Technique to other areas, specifically, to dance
training, for example. Both dancers experienced some applicability of the Alexander Technique
to their training. These changes involved recognition of the value of process and the
acknowledgement of different responses, awareness or directions which were described by the
participant dancers using the principles inherent in the Alexander Technique. The changes
reported were also substantial in areas that were unanticipated -- for example, in choreography,
in activities other than dance, and in the utilization of strategies that demonstrated a change in
thought and in perception. The data revealed changes in the dancers’ perception of how things
should look and feel, as well as a change in the language they used to describe what was
happening within them. The descriptions of the experience of the participant dancers went from
descriptions of what they were experiencing in their body parts to descriptions of what they were
13
sensing and experiencing globally. Finally, both dancers acknowledged that keeping a journal
assisted them in organising their thought on the work, and that this, in turn, aided them in
expressing themselves in the interviews. The experience of these two dancers, as well as the
high level of rehearsal and performance they were engaged in on a regular basis, provide a
mature level of reflection.
Conclusion and Implications
In conclusion, as researchers and teachers at the pre-professional level, we gained, through this
study, insights on teaching strategies. The acknowledgement from both dancer participants of
the difficulty of applying the principles of the Alexander Technique to complex movement
suggests a need for addressing the subject of thought in movement at an earlier stage in training,
while movement is still quite simple. The Alexander Technique process of self-awareness and
self direction could be introduced early in dance education, when fairly simple movements are
being learned, and it could then gradually be used to support more complex movement, rather
than itself becoming a complex element to be added on later. Both participants in the study
expressed that, in order to successfully apply the Alexander Technique, they needed time within
rehearsal to appropriate new movement. We feel that dance teachers could allow more time
within the dance class for appropriation and experimentation, which could encourage students to
take charge of their difficulties.
As the study reveals, the relationship between sensation and habit is of great importance, and
one, we believe, that could be addressed in training and in dance education. Often, in dance
education, the wording of a correction encourages the student to do something (ex.: keep your
shoulder down), instead of encouraging the student to stop doing what is getting in the way of a
desired result. It is very difficult for the student abandon the sense of control (s)he experiences
with familiar muscular tension, to plunge into unfamiliar and ultimately experimental state that
(s)he must pass through when changing conditions by giving up familiar muscular sensation.
We suggest that, rather than being told to do something is a particular manner, the student needs
to be encouraged to experiment with doing it without a particular muscular action and/or
sensation, which means that emphasis could be placed not on what the student needs to do to get
it right, but on what (s)he needs to not do, regardless of the immediate result. It is very different,
14
for example, to attempt something without lifting the shoulders, compared to doing something
keeping the shoulders down. This requires that the student be allowed to experiment and fail in
the process. Thus, as the experience of the dancers showed within the Alexander Technique
sessions, teachers could reassure students about the confusion they might feel when changing
their habitual sense of muscular tension during the learning process,. Teachers can accompany
students to welcome foreign sensation and frustrating kinesthetic experiences to help them to
move forward in their technique or performance.
Based on our results, another pedagogical implication we can offer to dance educators is to invite
students to be attentive to changes in their daily habits and to the integration of the Alexander
Technique that might be noticeable outside the dance classes. Indeed our study goes along with
the results of Long’s study, which highlights the need to engage in simple and familiar activities
when applying the principles of somatic education. Our view of somatic education is to regard it
as a process, and to incorporate it in our somas as a way of life integral to everything we do.
The study results confirm that student journals, as well as interviews, with specific assignments
or questions to initiate reflective thinking, could be used to generate self-awareness in dance
class processes. The process of putting experience into written or spoken words leads to deeper
analysis of difficulties and to their possible solutions. These methods of classroom data
collection could aid both teacher and student in reflecting on each other's actions within the
dance class.
Considering the relatively short duration of the study and the scope of the task of describing the
experience of two professional dancers, the results were substantial and informative for dancers
and us as researchers and teachers. As researchers, who are also educators seeking a better
understanding of somatics within dance education, we attempted in this article to emphasize
pedagogic implications to help dance educators who, like us, are always looking for new
methodology to enhance the learning abilities of their students.
15
References
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2 . Bluethenthal, A: Look Before You Leap: Dance Training Inhibits, but Alexander Technique Frees. Curiosity
Recaptured. ed. Sontag, Jerry. pp. 75-85. San Francisco: Mornum Time Press, 1996.
3 . Harris, C: The Influence of the Alexander Technique on Modern Dance Aesthetics, Master’s Thesis, Boulder,
University of Colorado at Boulder, 1998.
4 . Huxley, M, Leach, M, Stevens, J: Breaking down the barrier of habit: An interdisciplinary perspective on the
ideas of F.M. Alexander and the theory and practice of dance. Proceedings of the Fifth Study of Dance Conference,
pp. 155-171. Guildford, England: University of Surrey, 1995.
5. Richmond, P: The Alexander Technique and Dance Training. Impulse, 2(1): 24-38, 1994.
6 . Oliver, SK: Toward mind/body unity: seeking the deeper promise of dance education. Doctoral Thesis,
Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois, 1994.
7 . Krim, D: Multiple perspectives on the Experience and Effectiveness of the Alexander Technique in Relation to
Athletic Performance Enhancement: A Qualitative Study. Master’s Thesis, Fullerton, California State University,
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8 . Wabich, JC: The Practical Application of the F.M. Alexander Technique to the Performing Percussionist.
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9 . Lloyd, G: The Application of the Alexander Technique to the Teaching and Performing of Singing: A Case
Study Approach. Master’s Thesis, University of Stellenbosch (South Africa), 1987.
10 . Holm, CP: Correctives to Breathing Hindrances in Flute Performance, With Emphasis on the Alexander
Technique. Doctoral Thesis, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1997.
11 . Kaplan, I: The Experience of Pianists Who Have Studied the Alexander Technique: Six Case Studies.
Doctoral Thesis, New York, New York University, 1994.
12. Ibid p. 192.
13. Krim, D: op. cit.
14 . Patton, MQ: Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods. Newbury Park (CA): Sage Publications, 1990.
15. Ibid., p. 43.
16 . Alexander, FM: The Use of the Self. Long Beach (CA): Centerline Press, 1984, p. 45.
17. Ibid.
18 . Jones, FP: Body Awareness in Action. New York: Schocken Books, 1976, p. 150.
19. Batson, G: op. cit.
20. Oliver, K: op. cit.
21 . Long, W: Sensing Difference: Student and Teacher Perceptions on the Integration of the Feldenkrais Method
of Somatic Education and Contemporary Dance Technique. Master’s thesis, Dunedin, New Zealand, University of
Otago, 2002, p. 126.
22. Alexander: FM. op. cit.
... Moving with more ease was linked to a feeling of wellbeing, control, and/or confidence in eleven documents (ten studies) [8,14,[27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35]. Reduced pain was also linked to a sense of control [36] and to increased wellbeing in general [37,38]. ...
... The full programme theory was supported by three studies [30,36,44], and increased awareness leading to a more holistic sense of self was described in six studies [27,32,36,42,43,45]. Applying the AT to a physical problem, such as pain, leading to a feeling of a holistic sense of self was described in one study [41], and a conscious attention to physical habits leading to conscious attention to the non-physical was discussed in another [37]. ...
... Evidence for this theory also comes from a lack of this process when the context is not apparent (when the person has no capacity to attend lessons or to practice or apply the AT, and/or is not open to the AT/self-management). Eleven documents included participants (AT students or teachers) discussing that it takes time to learn AT skills and to see a benefit [1,9,14,30,32,38,39,42,45,49,50], suggesting that people need to attend a number of lessons and to practice, though the research was not clear on how many lessons were optimal (which will be considered further in the discussion). The literature suggested a number of factors which may impact on a person's capacity to attend lessons regularly, including having the ability to pay for lessons or travel [14,34,38,49,50] and having the time to attend regularly [49,50]. ...
Article
Introduction : The focus of previous research on the Alexander Technique (AT), a psychophysical self-management approach, has mainly been in musical performance, physical change, and health outcomes such as pain. This rapid realist review aimed to understand psychological and non-physical outcomes of the AT, and how they may be generated. Methods : Using a rapid review approach, papers with relevance to non-physical outcomes were identified using backward and forward citation searching from two key systematic reviews and consultation with AT experts. Results : Thirty-six documents were included for analysis, which resulted in 8 evidence-informed theory statements on how and for whom non-physical outcomes can be generated by AT lessons. A variety of non-physical outcomes of the AT were found, including improved general wellbeing and increased confidence to address present and future challenges, as well as identifying that difficult emotions can arise in lessons. Two main causal pathways were identified – 1) improvements in physical wellbeing leading directly to psychological wellbeing; and 2) an experience of mind-body integration leading people to apply AT skills to non-physical situations. Conclusions : The AT may be a useful approach in a range of settings for psychophysical, long-term outcomes, and further research is warranted. We suggest a number of recommendations for practice and further research, including for AT teacher training and the need for mixed-methods research in the AT, and factors which support a person to gain benefit, such as openness to self-management and support to attend regular lessons.
... Etnógrafos da dança desafiaram esse ponto de vista ao mostrar que, mesmo na dança , Porto Alegre, v. 16, n. 02, p. 71-91, abril/junho de 2010. contemporânea, prevalece uma visão do corpo como estando alienado do self, como algo a ser subjugado e gerido (LONG, 2002;GREEN, 2001;FORTIN;GIRARD, 2005). ...
Article
Full-text available
Uma pesquisa-ação constituída de aulas de educação somática num programa de bacharelado em dança mostrou como os dançarinos negociam o discurso dominante da dança e o discurso marginal da educação somática em relação às complexidades das questões de corpo e saúde.
... The dance sequences therefore show the individual dancers' creative interpretation of the instructions. The instructions regarding expressivity of the movements followed Alexander and breathing technique (Fortin & Girard, 2005), and also autobiographical memory elicitation was used to make the dance movements authentic in expression (Shafir, Taylor, Atkinson, Langenecker, & Zubieta, 2013). For the notexpressive versions, it was emphasised that the dancers were to dance the movements technically correct but without any expressivity. ...
Article
The Warburg Dance Movement Library is a validated set of 234 video clips of dance movements for empirical research in the fields of cognitive science and neuroscience of action perception, affect perception and neuroaesthetics. The library contains two categories of video clips of dance movement sequences. Of each pair, one version of the movement sequence is emotionally expressive (Clip a), while the other version of the same sequence (Clip b) is not expressive but as technically correct as the expressive version (Clip a). We sought to complement previous dance video stimuli libraries. Facial information, colour and music have been removed, and each clip has been faded in and out. We equalised stimulus length (6 seconds, 8 counts in dance theory), the dancers’ clothing and video background and included both male and female dancers, and we controlled for technical correctness of movement execution. The Warburg Dance Movement Library contains both contemporary and ballet movements. Two online surveys (N = 160) confirmed the classification into the two categories of expressivity. Four additional online surveys (N = 80) provided beauty and liking ratings for each clip. A correlation matrix illustrates all variables of this norming study (technical correctness, expressivity, beauty, liking, luminance, motion energy).
... However, the results presented here do support previous research about why some people take lessons, specifically for music and dance performance issues. [9][10][11] The finding that back pain was the most prevalent reason for consulting accords with data collected as part of the ATEAM trial in which Alexander lessons were viewed as effective by most patients. 15 In the ATEAM trial, as with this survey, teachers also worked at home and most were female. ...
Article
Given the rising profile of the Alexander Technique in the UK, there is a need for a comprehensive description of its teachers and of those who currently take lessons. In a national survey of Alexander teachers, we set out to address this information gap. A cross-sectional survey of 871 UK members of three main Alexander Technique teachers' professional associations was conducted. A questionnaire requested information about their professional background, teaching practice and methods, and about the people who attend lessons and their reasons for seeking help. With an overall response rate of 61%, 534 teachers responded; 74% were female with median age of 58 years, 60% had a higher education qualification, and 95% were self-employed, many with additional non-Alexander paid employment. The majority (87%) offered lessons on their own premises or in a privately rented room, and 19% provided home visits; both individual and group lessons were provided. People who took lessons were predominantly female (66%) with a median age of 48 years, and 91% paid for their lessons privately. Nearly two-thirds (62%) began lessons for reasons related to musculoskeletal conditions, including back symptoms, posture, neck pain, and shoulder pain. Other reasons were general (18%, including well-being), performance-related (10%, including voice-, music-, and sport-related), psychological (5%) and neurological (3%). We estimate that Alexander teachers in the UK provide approximately 400,000 lessons per year. This study provides an overview of Alexander Technique teaching in the UK today and data that may be useful when planning future research. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Article
This article traces the arrival of the Alexander Technique in Brazil in the 1980s and its later insertion in higher education in the country. It focuses on two experiences: one at Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro ‐ UNIRIO (Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro) ‐ as a university extension course for musicians and one at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais ‐ UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais and State University of Campinas) as an elective subject for dancers as part of the undergraduate dance course. The article aims to discuss the particularities as well as the challenges of introducing the Alexander Technique for the first time to trained dancers and musicians. The methodological approach included interviews with Alexander Technique teachers working and living in Brazil as well as the author’s personal experiences teaching the Alexander Technique in a university setting, articulated with the literature on this topic. The article hopes to contribute to the reflection on the role of somatic practices in higher education in order to collaborate with strategies that may help the teaching-learning process in an artistic-pedagogical academic environment.
Article
I write from the perspective of a dance artist interested in reflecting on and sharing my experiences of applying the Alexander Technique (AT) to a choreographic process. The inquiry was framed by dance ethnography, and I choreographed, danced, interviewed and performed with emerging to established dance artists specializing in Contact Improvisation, and interviewed and participated in lessons and workshops with AT teachers. During each phase of the research, I asked: why and how does AT guide me to embody my practice as a choreographer and dancer? This self-ethnographic research outlines an AT-inspired dance methodology using a systematic somatic process to enhance physical, mental and emotional coordination for choreographers and dancers. I propose that AT expanded my attention moment-to-moment to develop my choreographic intentions and desires.
Article
This article is about spiritualities and somatic movement dance education (SMDE). It is discursive, and reflective, drawing attention to areas of critical debate, such as secularized university dance curricula, the sacred-cum-secular nature of the field and the non-religious roots of somatics. Through observation and scholarly theory, the article explores the visibility, status and possible classificatory types of spirituality in the field. Readers are introduced to the scholarly territory of contemporary spirituality, which aims to support new research trajectories and theoretical purviews. The following areas are discussed as possible new theoretical vantage points: Progressive spirituality, New Age spirituality, Holistic spirituality and Postmodern spirituality. This article is a broad reflection on the field at large, aiming to be inclusive where possible, and offering broad conceptual ideas that both undergraduates and postgraduates can follow, reject, apply or interrogate. However, the content of this article may have more resonance and academic usefulness for scholars and students exploring autogenic approaches, which utilize SMDE as a tool for personal growth. The article also provides an extensive bibliography for undergraduate and postgraduate dance/somatics students venturing into spirituality as a new topic of research. The article responds discursively to postgraduate concerns about the academic status of spirituality within the field of SMDE, and in places consciously acts as a definitional referential guide.
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This essay explores the numerous and diverse ways collaborative practices in dance research can unfold. Strengths and challenges within the collaborative process are discussed as emphasis is given to the multiple perspectives and types of relationships that evolve from and within the process. These core elements offer scholars a rich array of choices that can enhance research endeavors as well as inform pedagogical practices. Unpacking collaboration in this manner carries particular relevance in a world that is as global as it is fragmented, underscoring the need to understand collaboration not as a specific research methodology but as a dynamic process. Examples in dance science, choreography, dance education, and pedagogy are considered to illustrate the possibilities collaboration holds for future research queries.
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Full-text available
Kleihauer examination of peripheral blood cannot be used reliably to detect transplacental fetal-maternal haemorrhage in mothers with hereditary persistence of fetal haemoglobin (HPFH). In Rh(D) negative pregnancies diagnostic confusion with a large fetal-maternal haemorrhage could result in the administration of inappropriately excessive amounts of anti-D immunoglobulin, and the inability to diagnose and quantify transplacental haemorrhage in maternal HPFH by current methods could result in insufficient anti-D administration and subsequent Rh(D) sensitisation. Accordingly, a method to detect and quantify fetal-Rh(D) positive maternal haemorrhage using erythrocyte fluorescent immunocytometry was developed. An indirect immunofluorescence method with IgG anti-D immunoglobulin as the primary antibody was used, combined with quantitative analysis on a fluorescence activated cell sorter. The method was accurate, specific, and sensitive and could detect a contaminating population of 0.1% Rh(D) positive cells in Rh(D) negative blood--a level of fetal-maternal haemorrhage well covered by a single dose of 500 IU of anti-D immunoglobulin.
The Use of the Self45Long Beach
  • F M Alexander
Body Awareness in Action150New York
  • F P Jones
Sensing difference: Student and teacher perceptions on the integration of the Feldenkrais Method of somatic education and contemporary dance technique, Master's thesis 126Dunedin
  • W Long
Master's thesis 126Dunedin
  • W Long