CSULB Modern III – Weeks 11 and 12: Trisha Brown master class, ACDFA, Klein/Mahler Technique

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks. My apologies for being late with my posts. Last week we had Nick Strafaccia from Trisha Brown Dance Company as well as ACDFA and guest teacher Colleen Dunagan. This week I am introducing Klein/Mahler Technique (created by Susan Klein and Barbara Mahler). We will meet on Wednesday, April 17 in Studio 7.

Between 1992-2010 I studied with these two teachers and their teachings continue to resonate with me today. Please look at their websites for more insight.

I am also including an article on Zero Balancing since I believe it is a strong influence on the Klein/Mahler work. The interface of energy and structure is at the heart of Susan and Barbara’s work with the body, particularly dancers’ bodies and their need to form patterns, repattern, integrate, contemplate and move from deep within.





15 thoughts on “CSULB Modern III – Weeks 11 and 12: Trisha Brown master class, ACDFA, Klein/Mahler Technique

  1. Today’s class was really interesting. I can’t believe how difficult it was for me to just hang upside down and relax my muscles. It took me a while to get comfortable with releasing my quads, hip flexers, and back while hanging over my legs. I wish we could do a three week intensive on this technique, so we could really learn to soften and release our muscles. I got a lot of information from today’s lesson, but definitely need more practice to able to relax a certain area without contracting something else. I really enjoyed the wall exercise that worked our hamstrings, I can’t believe hopping to and from the wall 3 times made my hamstrings burn that much! That’s definitely gonna be a new hamstring warm up I’m going to take advantage of.
    Class was super informative, can’t wait to learn more!

  2. WOW! I actually found my true parallel! The work we did up against the wall with keeping our knees in line with our ankles and feet was so helpful. It gave me a clear view of where my knees tend to go. Once we stood up and walked around I was flabbergasted to see how parallel my feet were, but most importantly how natural it felt and how my knees felt directly over my ankles facing forward.

    Where I found the most sitz bones to heel connection was when we rolled up slowly for 16 counts. I think because of the slow tempo, I was really able to feel my sitz bones anchoring down to my heels which are then rooting into the floor. It was a very secure feeling.

  3. I really enjoyed our crazy week of Nick, Gerald, and Colleen. It was like we had a little taste of many different styles. Nick’s class was interesting for me. I consciously decided that I was going to be open to what was offered. Because of that, I was nicer to myself in the process and felt more in my body while dancing. Colleen’s improvisation class was ok for me. Building up to the doing contact improv was good, but then when we got to the actual contact improv, it felt like it was not clicking. One thing she said to me is that if I were to put more weight down into the ground, it would help and allow my feet to stay flat (the edges were coming up).

    With today’s meditation, I had some trouble concentrating. In the beginning of the 5 minutes, I would be fine. I was focusing on my breathing, and had no distracting thoughts. Then, as the time went on, I would either hear a song playing in my head or start to think about change and how it has affected my life. I was thinking about how it was very odd that on Wednesday night I was thinking that the only guarantee in life is change. Then, we received Andy’s email the next day. Even with that, it was nice to have a day where we could all look inward. It was a nice reminder that we all most likely need more recuperation time.

  4. My dad has a job where sits he all day and he has developed sciatica and overall has problems caused by posture. I taught him some of the stuff from Nick’s class and what we learned about the Klein Technique. His pain literally stopped after doing those exercises. It’s just amazing how your posture contributes to the pain in your life and how a sedentary lifestyle is so bad for health. I feel fortunate to be a dancer.

  5. The Trisha Brown workshop we had with Nick was an absolute blast. It was such an awesome opportunity to put some of Trisha’s work into our bodies and I could definitely relate a lot of what we have been work on in class to apply to this kind of technique.
    This last week was, it was so great to try some of the Klein/Mahler techniques in repatterning muscle activation. When we were first working in class and were asked to engage only the muscles necessary, I had no idea how much I tend to clench or hold other muscles even if they aren’t really being used. I don’t think I have ever felt as aligned, physically relaxed and physically prepared as I did after working in studio 7, and I have to say it was a great feeling.
    Friday’s class was really inspiring and almost nurturing in a way I didn’t expect. In the meditation I had a hard time quieting the voices in my head and the more I tried to silence them, the louder they became. Finally just letting my mind wander as it needed to, I ultimately found a sense of calmness and was able to let go and focus on my breath once I let mind “reorganize” and settle. Thank you so much Gerald for offering us such an all encompassing class that not only nurtures physical movement but also mental and emotional well being. 🙂

    • I agree with you, Jessie. Sometimes you don’t even know when things are building up emotionally, and then at times like meditating in class you realize how much you’ve been holding in.

  6. The Trisha Brown master class was amazing! I am so glad that we were given the opportunity to take part in the class. I was a little nervous for the meditation and improvisation class. I knew it was going to be difficult for me to relax my mind and focus on breathing rather than all of the other things going on right now in my life. I progressively got better as class went on, and my thoughts began to wander less. After such a stressful week it was nice to have such a relaxing class.

  7. I love what Mark said about being fortunate to be a dancer. I feel that this semester particularly has brought me closer to living better, healthier, and more full as a dancer, but even more as a human being. Many people live their entire lives without knowledge of even the most basic concepts that can improve their quality of living. Many people are also not in touch or aware of what their bodies are saying to them and live their lives according to their brain/mind/ego. I appreciate and respect this class and all the techniques we’ve applied so greatly because they have taught and reassured measures that allow us to take care of our bodies as dancers and as people. I think the Klein/Mahler technique this week has presented some ideas that I definitely want to hold onto for the future.

  8. I liked the class with Nick because it gave me a taste of what Trisha Brown is like and yet was a great transition from spring break!

  9. Nick’s comment about the knees really stuck with me. He said that in an audition Trisha would look at the alignment of the knee with the ankle and hip… If the alignment was off she would dismiss the dancers. I see how extremely important it is to pay special attention to this issue because it can prevent injuries. This spoke to me because I have hip instability issues that have affected my knees. Since then I have been paying close attention to that issue in class.

  10. I really enjoyed learning about the Klein/Mahler technique. The tail bone to heel connection really stuck with me. I notice how easily misaligned my pelvis and body can get in class, especially in ballet where everything seems so tense and muscular. I’ve been working on feeling the drop of my tailbone and connection to my heels, and I am amazed at how it aids my work. It really helps me to get on my leg and not have to use so many muscles. I’ve also been experimenting with the hollowing in the hip socket, and lifting my passe with that relaxed feeling. I have found that I can get my passe higher and lift it more easily. As Priya mentioned, I also liked the hamstring up the wall exercise as well as the others. It was a great class!!
    The meditation class was interesting, and I like the idea of clearing our minds of unnecessary thoughts and allowing ourselves to be open so we can put things in perspective. But my back was really hurting the next few days after!

  11. After attending the Trisha Brown Company’s outdoor, evening performance, I was excited to hear that we were having the master class Interestingly. I was amazed at how beautifully the dancers move… and with such ease!

  12. I really enjoyed the master class we took with Nick. His humbleness was so wonderful to see. He is a professional dancer in a very well-known and respected company and he was informative and knowledgable yet casual and genuine. This class was interesting for me because it actually gave me a sense of what Trisha Brown’s style is, what her dancers know about it and how they teach it to other dancers. I tend to try to “control” my movement a lot, which is something teachers have always told me not to do. It is partially due to my back injury, also just the way I’ve always been. This style felt very different to me. The movements we did with Nick required both a solid control but also a free flow. The movement needed control in order to balance or change weight/foot but also a weighted release in order to glide from one movement to the next. If I put too much force into something I would turn too far or knock myself off balance but if I released too much I would be late for the next step. I was unable to attend the Trisha Brown performance but I can imagine it would be beautiful choreography to watch. The perfect balance of ease and control paired with well-seasoned dancers must make the choreography slightly unpredictable and very fascinating to watch.

  13. Nick was wonderful to work with. Not only was he fun and humorous to work with but it was fun to watch you, Gerald, take the class and the way you interacted with him. I really like doing the Trisha Brown combination.
    I really happy I got to attend my third and last ACDFA. It was quite a learning experience to hear what the 9 different adjudicators that I had the honor to learn from. Each had their own take on what they get from the dance they saw.

  14. I missed the day that we had the master class from Nick since I was very sick, but I heard it was a great class and I wish I could’ve attended! I did enjoy the class with Colleen though, because it has been a while since I’ve had a full class of solely improvisation. The class made me remember back to my freshman year when I took improvisation, and every score and technique was all completely new to me. I was never completely uncomfortable with improv, but I was usually nervous when learning new things. Now having taken class with Colleen, I found it interesting to compare how much more relaxed and comfortable I am now with improvisation then I was two years ago.

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