When it comes to your students' training, a somatic practice can be the key to injury prevention, better dancing and a healthier student overall. Alexander Technique, which is designed to retrain established movement patterns through nonjudgmental verbal and physical cues, is one such practice.
Here, Alonzo King LINES Ballet faculty member Anne-René Petrarca, an expert on Alexander Technique, shares three ways that it can be beneficial for dancers.
It raises bodily awareness.
"There's this heightened awareness that is present when you study Alexander. Basically, we're taking unconscious habits, bringing them into consciousness and then making choices. For example, 'How am I standing on my leg? Am I shifting onto one leg and sinking into my right hip? OK, I can make the choice to free my leg instead of causing that stress in my hip joint.'"
It improves alignment and movement efficiency.
"As dancers, we overwork. We try to turn out. We try to lift our leg. However, in Alexander Technique, you learn how to direct your energy. Alignment starts to fall into place and so does efficiency. When you become aware of where you're directing your energy, you can let go of all that extra muscle work that doesn't have to happen."
It builds confidence.
"Alexander work is nonjudgmental. My energy is different from your energy, so we're not comparing ourselves, and we're not judging. It's totally about exploring your body, making space in your body and moving efficiently, so you can articulate whatever you want to—whatever journey you're taking yourself and your audience on."
For an introduction to Alexander Technique, check out this video by Petrarca's teacher Judith Stern.