THEA 33 – Week 8: Klein/Mahler Technique

This week we will explore the work of Susan Klein and Barbara Mahler. Between 1992-2010 I studied with these two amazing women 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, a bodywork modality, 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.


12 thoughts on “THEA 33 – Week 8: Klein/Mahler Technique

  1. I found it really helpful when we visualized our bones while we were warming up. I usually just think about engaging my muscles while am dancing, but I found that if I focused on making sure my bones were aligned, i actually had to do less work with my muscles because my skeleton was already in the right place! I didn’t have to fight against myself, and it seemed more efficient.

  2. Again, I have fully enjoyed class this week! On both Tuesday and Thursday we started off with finding our tailbone and the front of our pubic bone and rolling down, then moved to the floor. On Tuesday, once we had moved to the floor, I felt really in touch with my body. As we sat and breathed into our hands, I tried to relax into my self, and in addition to this I was in a very content mood and the weather and trees were absolutely beautiful, I almost started tearing up! It was really wonderful. This class has really helped me appreciate my body and what it does, as well as other peoples’ bodies and their capabilities. I’m very ecstatic about discovering and developing the connection I have with my body, and realizing that I’ve had this all my life. I’ve been moving and utilizing my body before I started dance classes, and it’s a huge part of who I am, I’m fairly positive I’m stretching in some way at least 75% of my time every day. As to the more technical part of what we’re doing in class, I’m still ever-fascinated by the idea of us working in so many different planes of movement rather than front, side, and back as I’m more used to. I can feel the difference in my warm-ups and honestly think it has improved my ballet technique as well.

  3. I agree that the focus on bones in movement was really helpful and interesting. I felt that focusing on bones made me feel more engaged because it was a holistic approach. Like Masha, I have always only thought primarily about muscle-dominant movement, so to initiate from bones felt more complete.
    I also felt like so many possibilities were made available using knee pads! It’s such a simple thing, but I have never used them before and I felt so much more freedom to experiment with movement and transitions that I would have resisted with bare knees. I like that this small change was able to help make my movement more fearless.

  4. I really like the focus on bones this week. I’m taking a human osteology class, and it’s really cool be able to use one class to deepen my understanding in another. This whole week was very enjoyable since I could really visualize my bones moving and shifting having held them in another class. I have generally danced by focusing on my muscles. It was really interesting to move while thinking of being supported by my bones, as that is something I have never really thought of. And it felt really different. That moment when we were standing, and you came and told me to relax my quads and rely on my bones to keep me up was really eye opening.

  5. It was interesting focusing on the bones last week. When we began the class finding our tailbone and pubic bone and breathing, I realized how much I neglect my bones. Like Masha mentioned, I seem to think more about my muscles than I do my bones. Standing and breathing, visualizing our bones and the stack of our spinal chord make me more aware of my bones and all the structure they provide while we dance and just go about our daily lives. Every week I am paying more and more attention to every aspect of my body and I am trying to take it all into consideration when I move.

  6. Zero balancing reminds me a lot of craniosacral therapy combined with the movement aspect of rolfing. This, along with Susan Klein’s work are invaluable tools for a bodyworker or movement educator. I’d like to specifically explore these two techniques in greater depths so I may incorporate them into my bodywork practice.

  7. This week while we were lying flat on our backs, Gerald coached me to close my rib cage and flatten my back. I found, however, that it was very painful to try to do so because I felt a lot of pain in my lower back and it became hard to stop squirming. However, if I closed my eyes, placed my hands on my ribcage, and thought about softening my bones to the ground, all while breathing into my spine, the pain quickly dissipated and I no longer needed to arch.

  8. bone movement vs. muscle movement has a very different feeling. Knowing that our skeletal structure could drive movment would have never crossed my mind. I find that it make sense that our bones should drive our bodies as a whole rather than our muscles since movment needs to come from the core (literally) in order to have better control. I have been paying attention to the ways in which my body is able to move and what it is capable of, this is really exciting since it is not just a body, it is a tool for art. Very fascinating stuff!!

  9. For week 8 we focused a bit on our bones. It’s interesting how our bodies are executing the same commands but when we initiate from our bones (versus initiating from our muscles) the movements feel more strong and direct. Focusing on our breathing has also been really helpfu.. It is kind of therapeutic. Like Juliet Mentioned I too have noticed a change in my mood, stress levels and my outlook since I started taking this class.

  10. The anatomy of the bones in our bodies has always intrigued me. If I could have x-ray goggles while people were dancing and see how their bones were moving I would be so excited. Its fascinating to envision the structure of the bones as I move because it is the root to my support system. It helps me to understand the infinite ranges of motion I can play with and it brings better awareness to the minute parts of my body I don’t generally think about or that I forget. I have been loving all that we’ve learned this week because I feel that movement which stems from this knowledge is therapeutic and intriguing to know more about.

  11. I liked starting the class off with finding my tailbone and doing a series of rolls. This helped me with multiple things such as stretching, finding my balance and adjusting my body. It is really interesting focusing my movement through bones rather than muscle. It has a totally different feel to it and it really made me visualize how my bones were moving and how one bone works with another.

  12. Focusing on my bones instead of my muscles was a really interesting experience for me. I really wish I had thought about this method earlier. Rethinking my tailbone/head relationship this late in the quarter made me remember how I felt early on in the quarter: very curious and willing to try anything.

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