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Exploring and embodying a character doesn’t need to feel like you have been personally exposed to the rehearsal room every time you run a scene.

 

 

  

It doesn’t have to excavate your personal history in order to generate authenticity and emotional resonance. 

  
 
 
 
It doesn’t need to be a frustrating game of translation between performer and director in order to find a common ground.

Theatre is profound, generative, mind-expanding. It can take us to unexplored territory in ourselves, and in our audience. It can illuminate social, political, personal narratives in ways that encounter resistance in other forms of communication. But it is hard to make, hard to perform, and, sometimes, hard to watch. Making theatre that hits the audience with immediacy and clarity, and creating a working environment that is consensual, inclusive, and empathetic is hard-won. Especially in this moment in our many histories, finding the language that acts definitively, yet doesn’t leave anyone behind, can feel impossible.

Laban’s Effort Theory allows for language to become extremely specific, yet untethered to stereotype, archetype, or biased associations. Think of how different it feels to be told to move with fast speed and shifting focus than to be told to express anxiety, how we may talk about weight, impact, directness rather than aggression. It opens up a world of shared vocabulary that does not need to trigger pain or ask that we divulge our personal emotional life every time we walk into a studio, classroom, or onto a stage.

Get-Back-In-There

 

This online course will transform your creative process by helping you to…

 

1) Find shared language that is unbiased, consensual, and specific.

 

2) Find depth to characters by discovering the expressive and functional movement life specific to them.

 

3) Extend your range of expressivity as a performer.

 

4) Break habits as a performer, creator, teacher, writer. 

 

5) Have a road map to develop character without feeling that you need to either mine your personal life, nor reinvent the wheel each time you start a project.

 

6) Create a safer space by removing the subjective language that often leaves people behind, or triggers associations that don’t serve them, or the process.

 

7) Reach an audience with immediacy by creating vivid, concise imagery saturated with meaning.

Introducing, Embodied Meaning: 

A Course in Expressive Performance

 

This digital course will provide actors, dancers, directors, dramaturgs, and choreographers with an actionable toolkit for using Laban’s ideas of EFFORT into practice. The combinations of Weight, Space, Time, and Flow form 80 possible specific choices for expression, and functionality.

In dance, this provides an endless range of options for dynamics and helps us find deep functionality for challenging movement sequences. For theatre, every character in every play can be broken down to a set of qualities they tend to most, and each line of every play can be analyzed for its specific qualities. Using EFFORT in speaking and moving is a portal to specificity, and a way to break the habits of the performer, at the service of the show.

These ideas can also be used in larger, compositional choices, and to help design the flow and tone of a whole work. It is an extremely activated way to view and devise part of, or whole, performance.

This digital course will provide students with a chance to analyze, speak, and move inside the various possible choices for expression, and offer them a lifetime of new information that can be used to create a character, challenge their habits, and devise in a deeply specific, clear, and objective way.

This course includes reflective reading and writing, video analysis, creation, practice, and discussion. Guided movement improvisation, scene work, and creative process, as well as analysis of video, writing prompts, and suggested reading for future study are all active components to the workshop.

A series of short videos lead students through all the basic and complex combinations of vocal and physical dynamic. Writing, creation, and movement prompts serve as tools for deeper engagement and embodiment. Reading assignments provided will connect the intellectual to experiential study.

Applications included

in the course cover:

• Non-verbal communication
• Text analysis and scene study
• Movement Improvisation
• Vocal dynamics
• Elements of Jungian typology

Meg-&-Toni

Here’s how this workshop works…

 

 

Each week for three weeks (starting the week of November 11th), you’ll get access to a series of videos, readings, and assignments that will take you through Effort Theory, how to create combinations of dynamics to meet any moment or any character.

These videos will ask you to move, speak, write, and create. Throughout the week, you can connect through a forum to other class members.

At the end of each week, there will be a one hour live Q and A call (6-7pm ET Wednesdays) with me to discuss questions, work through ideas with movement and text, and create together. They will be recorded!

 

The weeks are broken up into three modules:

1) Introduction to Effort Theory: Motion Factors, and Qualities
2) Introduction to States and Drives: How to make 80 combinations
of dynamic
3) Applications of Effort Theory: Communication, Vocal Work,
Creative Process, Pedagogy, and Psychology

Here’s what you will learn in each module…

 

Introduction to Effort Theory: Motion Factors, and Qualities
In this unit, you will learn an overview of what Effort is, and how it can be harnessed towards meaning. We will break down Effort into its components: Weight, Space, Time, and Flow, and their continuums: Light/Strong, Indirect/Direct, Sustained/Quick, and Free/Bound.

 

Introduction to States and Drives: How to make 80 combinations of dynamic
In this unit, we will explore the vastness of expression. When we put these 8 qualities together in various combinations, we have 80 possible ways to express ourselves, and also 80 ways in which we can function more efficiently. By pulling them apart and using exactly the qualities that serve us, we can describe an incredibly specific and nuanced world.

 

Applications of Effort Theory: Communication, Vocal Work, Creative Process, Pedagogy, and Psychology

In this final unit, we will PLAY. We will create movement, analyze text, check our observation skills. We will discuss psychology, nonverbal communication, choreography, directing, and dramaturgy. We will use Effort to adjust vocal dynamics towards meaning.

Embodied Meaning Will Transform Your Approach

to Teaching, Performing and Creating

 

Here’s what students have said about learning Effort Theory from Alexandra Beller. 

“Learning Laban’s Effort Theory from Alexandra Beller has

profoundly changed my practice as a director and educator.”

 

“Sharing the language of Laban with my staff, performers, and students has provided the tools to create safe, artistic, educational, and collaborative environments. Before learning this language, I often struggled with how to empower, rather than manipulate, performers into the choices that best serve the production.
Sharing the language of Laban provides everyone in the room with the tools to communicate succinctly and clearly about the qualities of the work, separated from the performer. This not only ensures a safe and non-violent atmosphere but also empowers artists with the tools to communicate effectively in future collaborative spaces.”

 

-Megan Doyle, Director of Theatre, 92nd St Y

 

“I am delighted to have taken your class.”

 

I’m very interested in this kind of work and I am delighted to have taken your class. If anything I would love a longer class to help is hone the skills that you so creatively brought to us.

 

-Gisela Cardenas

 

“I am grateful to have you as a part of my artistic journey.”

 

“I believe in the art you stand for and stand by. I am grateful to have you as a part of my artistic journey.”

 

-J.B. Smith

“Alexandra is a very dedicated, passionate and caring mentor

and teacher that pours her heart and soul into everything she does.”

 

“She is very good at checking her own biases and seeing the unique individual that is in front of her, bringing out the best in them rather than trying to make them fit into a template.”

 

-Odelia Shargian, mentorship client 2018-present


I always feel both seen and heard in [Alexandra’s]classes.”

 

Alexandra creates a space for engaged exploration that is collaborative and filled with kindness. I always feel both seen and heard in [Alexandra’s] classes.

-Joe Bowie

This course begins November 11th, 2021

 

Enroll now!

Cost: $200

Have questions? Scroll down to the FAQ or contact Alexandra at beller.alexandra@gmail.com.

About the Instructor

 

Hello, I’m Alexandra Beller. I am passionate about art-making through authenticity, clarity, and mindfulness. I am a choreographer and director, a professor, writer, and coach.

After dancing with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company for seven years, I started my own Dance/Theatre company in 2002 (Alexandra Beller/Dances). I was always using both text and movement to storytell, but after getting my degree in Laban/Bartenieff Movement Studies (a certified Movement Analyst), I began to work predominantly in theatre.

I have choreographed everything from classics to futuristic dystopian fantasy worlds, and have recently started to direct plays through a movement-centered, empathy rich process. I’ve worked Off-Broadway, and regionally, for film and video, and have found each project to be a unique world requiring a mindful tuning, a learning curve, and a lot of listening.

My company became a place for education: helping choreographers find their voice, helping actors open their bodies to tell the story as much as, or more than, their voice. I help individuals sort themselves inside their art career, and teach Choreography and Contemporary Dance to people, who’ve never danced before, at Princeton. I devise, curate, and run workshops, mentor individuals, teach at Universities, and teach teachers to find their life vision inside their classroom.

My mission is to help artists find their truth and take action based on that inner knowing, whether that is in their creative process, performance, or pedagogy.

My Work

 

Alexandra has been Choreographer for “Sense and Sensibility” (Sheen Center, Judson Gym, Folger Shakespeare Library, American Repertory Theatre, Portland Center Stage), (Helen Hayes Award, Lortel Nomination, IRNE Best Choreography). She choreographed the Off Broadway musical, “The Mad Ones” (59E59), Bedlam’s “Peter Pan” (Duke Theatre), “Two Gentlemen of Verona” (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival), “As You Like It” (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Folger Shakespeare Library), “How to transcend a happy marriage” by Sarah Ruhl (Lincoln Center Theatre), “The Young Ladies of…” (Taylor Mac), “Chang(e)” (HERE), and others. Current projects include “Antonio’s Song” by Dael Orlandersmith/Antonio Suarez (CATF, Milwaukee Rep), “Fandango for Butterflies (and Coyotes)” (La MaMa and touring), and Directing and Choreographing “Make Thick My Blood,” a two-person adaptation of Macbeth opening Off-Broadway February 2022.

Her international performance career includes 7 years with the Bill. T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, projects with Martha Clarke, John Turturro, and others. Alexandra Beller/Dances formed in 2001 and she has created over 40 original Dance Theatre works, for her own and other companies. Her choreography has been presented at theatres throughout the US and in Korea, Hong Kong, Oslo, Cyprus, St. Petersburg, and Poland.

Alexandra holds a BFA/Dance, MFA/Dance and CMA (Certified Movement Analyst) in Laban Movement Analysis/Bartenieff Fundamentals. She is on faculty at Princeton University, Rutgers University, and The Laban/Bartenieff Institute for Movement Studies, and guest teaches nationally and internationally. She also has a private Somatic Therapy practice and provides multiple forms of private mentorship. She has consulted with numerous institutions about curriculum planning, syllabus development, and pedagogy including the 92nd St Y, LIMS, and Dancio.com.

F.A.Q.

 

Q: What if I’m not a dancer?

A: You absolutely do not need to identify as a dancer to do this work. This is about YOUR body, in whatever state, with whatever limitations, training, and history it has. This is about YOU, not some ideal we are aspiring towards. While you can use this material in dance, you can also use it in facial expression, vocal dynamics, screenwriting, script analysis, and everyday conversations. You can use this to negotiate with your boss, to do homework with you kid, to clean your house more efficiently.

 

Q: If I learn this as a director, but my performers don’t know the system, how can it be useful?

A: The language is very simple. In the end, you can use the words, or make up new ones, to bring the actor towards quickness, or binding. The hard part is seeing it, and that is what this course will teach.

 

Q: Does it really work to do a theatre course solo, online, asynchronously?

A: The videos cycle between listening, writing, trying things with your body in space, watching. Ultimately, learning this is always a solo practice, because you are improving your own skills of observation and analysis, creative fortitude and range of expression.

 

Q: I have a process I already use. I don’t want to give it up, but I am curious about this. Is it going to conflict with what I already do?

A: This will not conflict with any other system. All we are doing is organizing what already happens inside human function and expression so that you can make clearer and more conscious choices. It will only fold in and serve what you are doing, or become its own process for you. It may, however, make your current practices feel easier, less freighted, and more inclusive.

 

Q: I don’t know that I have brain space for learning a whole new system. Is this going to be overwhelming and feel like I can’t remember or implement it?

A: These are very actionable tools that you can use in a variety of situations and start applying quickly. Any piece of this that you implement will be effective on its own. Like cooking. I don’t have to go to French culinary school to start making meals. Just learning a couple of new skills (poach an egg) allows me to have more choices, more opportunities. This is a system that builds on itself, but at every juncture, the information is immediately available for use.