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Support for Creative Expression: The Feldenkrais Method with Actors

By Bob Feldman

When working with actors, I have combined elements of the Feldenkrais Method with text and movement work. Various concepts from Awareness Through Movement® lessons contain useful and effective applications to the stage. Body awareness gained from the Feldenkrais Method strengthens the performer’s sense of self and increases performance readiness. Awareness can be heightened through the concept of support, and this support can subsequently enhance creative expression.

For example, in an ATM you lie down and scan the contact your body makes with the floor. Gravity sets in, the muscles let go, shoulder blades, elbows, pelvis, calves and heels begin to sink. Throughout the simple movement sequences explored in each lesson are pauses which allow you to feel how these points of contact become clearer and softer. You feel supported. Like stilts over water, the contact points support your “house.”

How can you creatively transfer the support of the floor to support while performing? When you stand after an ATM you might feel, for example, a sense of grounding as you experience your weight going downwards into the floor. This stability is an excellent base for a performer. When I encourage actors to use their imagination, they can feel that support behind them. The contact points now press against the air, the empty space. The space becomes tangible as they can feel it press back.

The Feldenkrais Method offers the possibility to act with the entire self, to feel supported by all dimensions of the body simultaneously—to act with the full body, front, back, sides, up, down and all around. Exploring ATMs which allow the use of the entire self in every action, performers increase their stage presence and expand their ability to make creative choices.

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