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Health, Fitness, and Movement for the Performing Artist
Performing artists, including actors, athletes, dancers and non-dancers should become knowledgeable of various body awareness techniques that can addresses their individual movement needs. Generally, these techniques comprise stretching, improvisational dance methods, and relaxation. These techniques, once acquired, could help to develop a new comfort level with the body, a greater sense of space and increased ease of motion. More specific examples of such techniques includes the following:
Ch'i kung exercise for health. Ch'i kung is a mental and physical training method that promotes the circulation of ch'i (a form of bioenergy) in the body. Ch'i kung is said to help prevent and treat illness, increase strength, release stress, reduce body fat, improve work efficiency, resist premature senility, and achieve harmony of body, mind and spirit.
F.M. Alexander Technique. The Alexander Technique does not involve exercises, forms of psychotherapy, or spiritual healing techniques. It is also unlike the manipulations of bodywork or manual healing techniques: Rather than approaching the body as a set of separate areas, a skilled teacher guides a student through movement, observing and working with whole patterns of coordination, which include tension and postural patterns, how a student thinks about moving, and active movement itself. The student actively participates in this process, learning to apply his own intelligence to change habits effectively. Benefits reportedly include easier movement, improved alignment, more natural breathing, and, most importantly, the development of skills to deal with habits on a general basis.
Kundalini Yoga. Kundalini yoga, also called the "yoga of awareness", reportedly offers a powerful technique for relaxation, fitness and spiritual development. It combines stretching, flexing, twisting, balancing, breathing, deep relaxation and meditation. Benefits include enhanced physical and mental flexibility and balance, reduced stress, and more focused energy.
Pilates Conditioning Floor exercises that correct posture, improve range of motion and strength, and help develop a firm central support for movement.
Qi Gong (Chinese yoga). Moving and standing meditation techniques said to integrate the body, mind and breath. These exercises are practiced to help relieve stress, calm the mind, build stamina, and improve flexibility and overall health.
Stretching, Strength and Balance. Stretching leads to enhanced flexibility and increased range of motion. Newer techniques of facilitated stretching (PNF/CRAC), active-isolated stretching, and Swiss ball stretches have evolved and supplement the traditional stretches. Techniques should also integrate breathing, relaxation, and mental focus, and strengthening of the trunk and legs.
Swiss Ball. Exercise techniques with an oversized inflated rubber ball. Both strength and flexibility are worked on, with a special emphasis on core/trunk stabilization, balance and coordination.
T'ai Chi. T'ai chi ch'uan is an ancient form of Chinese exercise. Quiet, supple movements are performed in a calm and peaceful manner that cultivates the spirit and body. Common routines focus on the 24-forms t'ai chi sequence.
Yoga. Yoga is known to engage and balance the body, mind and spirit. It stretches, strengthens, and relaxes your body while tuning vitality and overall health. It can also promote body awareness, breathing techniques, and self-acceptance to help you experience inner peace and develop a trusting relationship with your body.
As an actor, your job is to communicate to an audience with your voice and your body. If no one can understand what you are saying, no amount of acting ability can help you land a role. Voice lessons can be as simple as learning how to breathe and project your voice. By learning these techniques, you can speak clearly for long periods of time without straining your voice. For added versatility, you may also want to consider taking singing lessons. Singing lessons can teach you how to control your voice, while also giving you the chance to audition and perform in musicals or commercial roles that may require a trained singer.
Besides developing and training your voice, you also need to develop and train your body. Start a regular exercise program to keep your body in good shape so that you will be healthy enough to attend auditions and play any role you can get. Additional training such as movement classes can help improve the body gestures that are part of acting. Learning the art of miming can teach you how to express yourself without relying on words. Dance lessons not only exercise and coordinate your body but also improve the chances of landing a role in a musical.
Because many films and television shows emphasize the martial arts, consider taking martial arts classes to get your exercise and also to gain another important skill that may help you land a particular acting role requiring stunts and combat actions. Fencing classes can improve your coordination while teaching you to use a sword in case you get a role that requires a sword fight.
There are medical clinics around the country specially geared to the needs for performing artists. Here is a listing of some of them:
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Diet for Dancers: A Complete Guide to Nutrition and Weight Control
|TAP! The Greatest Tap Dance Stars and Their Stories 1900-1955 |
by Rusty E. Frank, Gregory Hines
342 pages; (April 1995)
DaCapo Press; ISBN: 0306806355
|The Souls of Your Feet - A Tap Dance Guidebook for Rhythm Explorers |
by Acia M. Gray, Elizabeth Cruger
186 pages; (September 1998)
Grand Weaver's Publishing; ISBN: 0966744500
|Frank Hatchett's Jazz Dance |
by Frank Hatchett, Nancy Myers Gitlin, Nancy Myers Gitlin
184 pages; (March 2000)
Human Kinetics (T); ISBN: 0736000259
|Martha Graham: The Evolution of Her Dance Theory and Training |
by Marian Horosko, Madeleine Nichols
274 pages; (June 2002)
University Press of Florida (T); ISBN: 0813024730
|Jazz Tap: From African Drums to American Feet (African Diaspora) |
by Anne E. Johnson
64 pages; (July 1999)
Rosen Publishing Group; ISBN: 0823918564
|Dancers Body Book |
by Allegra Kent, James Camner, Constance Camner
220 pages; (March 1984)
William Morrow & Co; ISBN: 0688015395
|The Tap Dance Dictionary |
by Mark Knowles
264 pages; (July 1998)
McFarland & Company; ISBN: 0786403527
|Luigi's Jazz Warm Up: An Introduction to Jazz Style & Technique |
by Luigi, Lorraine Person Kriegel, Francis Roach
181 pages; (May 1997)
Princeton Book Co Pub; ISBN: 0871272024
|The Body Speaks Performance and Expression |
by Lorna Marshall; Yoshi Oida
240 pages; (Dec 2002)
Palgrave MacMillan; ISBN 1403960283
|The New York City Ballet Workout: Fifty Stretches and Exercises Anyone Can Do for a Strong, Graceful, and Sculpted Body |
by Peter Martins
256 pages; (January 1997)
William Morrow & Co; ISBN: 0688152023
|The Body Can Speak: Essays on Creative Movement Education With Emphasis on Dance and Drama |
by Annelise Mertz (Editor), Joseph Roach
148 pages; (June 2002)
Southern Illinois University Press; ISBN: 0809324199
|The Joffrey Ballet Schools Ballet-Fit |
by Dena Simone Moss, Allison Kyle Leopold, Joffrey Ballet School, Steve Ladner
208 pages; (March 1999)
Griffin Trade Paperback; ISBN: 0312194706
|Movement for Actors |
by Nicole Potter
288 pages; (July 2002)
Allworth Press; ISBN: 1581152337
|At Work With Grotowski on Physical Actions |
by Thomas Richards, Jerzy Grotowski
160 pages; (September 1995)
Routledge; ISBN: 0415124921
|Environmental Theater |
by Richard Schechner
384 pages; (April 1994)
Applause Theatre Book; ISBN: 1557831785
| || ||The Grotowski Sourcebook |
by Lisa Wolford
480 pages; (May 2001)
Routledge; ISBN: 0415131111
Click the titles of the above books for their availability, or enter the title of a book not shown in the above listing in the search box below.
Search for magazines by entering the title or keywords in the search box below.
Actors' Fund of America
Entertainment Industries Council, Inc. (EIC)
Feldenkrais Guild UK
Health & Retirement Funds (AFTRA)
Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation
|Motion Picture & Television Fund Social and Charitable Services |
335 North La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036-2584
Phone: 323-634-3800 or 818-876-1080
Serving the health and human service needs of California's entertainment community through health care, child care, retirement and social/charitable services. Particular emphasis is placed on the Motion Picture & Television Hospital, five health centers, financial assistance and community outreach programs, a retirement community and the Samuel Goldwyn Foundation Children's Center.
|Performing Arts Medicine Association |
PO Box 61228
Denver, CO 80206
An organization of physicians and other allied professionals dedicated to improving the health care and treatment of performing artists through education, research, and teaching.
|SAG Pension & Health Funds |
Burbank Plan Office
3601 West Olive Avenue
P.O. Box 7830
Burbank, CA 91510-7830
Phone: 818-954-9400 or 800-777-4013 (outside the Los Angeles Area)
This site provides you with the most current information regarding your health and pension benefits
|The Shiatsu Society |
St Peters Road
Rugby CV21 3QP
Phone: 0845-130 4560
The Society was set up in 1981 to facilitate communication within the field of Shiatsu and to inform the public of the benefits of this form of natural healing.
|Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique |
1st floor, Linton House
39-51 Highgate Road
London, NW5 1RS
The Technique is taught in music and drama colleges worldwide and, due to its positive influence on coordination, is seen as an essential element in a performer's training.
|Tarjan Center for Developmental Disabilities |
c/o National Arts and Disability Center
UCLA University Affiliated Program
300 UCLA Medical Plaza Suite 3330
Los Angeles, CA 90095-6967
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