All About Alexander Technique: An Interview with Rebekah Chappell

Happy Fall! 

Our bodies change just like the seasons, and amidst a global pandemic, it seems especially important to care for and listen to what our bodies need. One great way to do this is through our upcoming Alexander Technique workshops with the incredible Rebekah Chappell.

We could not be more thrilled to have Rebekah join Dance Waterloo as a Teaching Artist this season. To get you feeling just as hype as us, we did an interview with Rebekah about Alexander Technique. Enjoy, and we’ll see you at the first (social distanced and masked up) workshop on Saturday, November 7, 2020. 

Tell me a little bit about yourself, Rebekah.

My name is Rebekah Chappell and I am a white, cis-gender female. I use she / her pronouns. I am a performer, teaching artist, and dance maker. I hold a MFA in Dance from The University of Iowa. I studied the Alexander Technique at Chesapeake Bay Alexander Studies and completed their 1,200-hour teacher training program over a four year period. 

How did you get involved with Dance Waterloo?

I recently moved to Buda, Texas from Virginia with my husband, Nick. I was super eager to become involved with the Greater Austin community but moving during the pandemic really shifted how, when, and where that would be possible. Dance Waterloo has a wonderful Instagram feed and after engaging with their posts, I reached out about possible ways to get connected. At that time, they were searching for Teaching Artists and I am so excited by their invitation to teach the Alexander Technique.

What is Alexander Technique?

The Alexander Technique is an educational method created by F.M. Alexander at the turn of the twentieth century. He was an Australian actor who began to consistently lose his voice during performances. With doctors unable to locate a medical cause, F.M. Alexander reasoned that there must be something about the way he was using his voice that was causing his predicament. He noticed that a conditioned performance posture seemed to be at the heart of the issue. He observed that he was interfering with his overall coordination, specifically the relationship between the head and the spine. Over many years, he developed a process to become aware of, interrupt, and undo habitual patterns of use that may be detrimental to one’s overall functioning.  

What are the benefits of practicing Alexander Technique?

What I love about the Alexander Technique is the ability to apply it to everything that I do. For example, I may be washing dishes and start to notice tension in my shoulders. As I continue to wash my dishes, I can apply the Alexander Technique process to organize my whole self in a way that is free from unnecessary tension. I came to the Alexander Technique because I was experiencing shin pain that no doctors had the answers to. With time this pain has disappeared. That was not the goal of the Alexander Technique and the educational method is not designed to be therapeutic or medicinal. However, because my pain was directly connected to how I was standing and walking, as I addressed these ways of being, I had a different experience of myself and my pain disappeared. 

Who is Alexander Technique for?

I encourage anyone who is curious about learning to inhabit every day or skilled activities with more mindfulness to come to the workshop series. I will introduce the Alexander Technique process and we will spend time exploring the concepts in relation to activities that are individually meaningful. If you play an instrument, feel free to bring it with you! If you want to explore how you stir the batter while baking, bring a bowl and spoon! If you are struggling through hours on Zoom, bring your computer! I will support you in applying the principles to your life. As a part of the educational method, the Alexander Technique often utilizes a specialized hands-on skill in teaching. As we are in the midst of a global pandemic, we will explore together if or how the use of touch may be appropriate. Our primary way of learning will be through verbal cues and simple movement explorations. 

Do you have any advice for those apprehensive about Alexander Technique?

I am excited to work with folx from all backgrounds during the workshop. I approach this work by honoring the wisdom and intelligence of the body. You are the expert of your embodied experience. While I will certainly provide directions, students’ passions and curiosities will guide the process. This will be a participatory experience. For example, we may explore different ways of directing our attention while walking. There will be no “right” or “wrong” way of participating; there is no posture or movement to perform in a “correct” way. After experimenting with ideas, we will share our observations. There is joy in hearing the diverse noticing of the “same” process. Our experience is deepened by the knowledge each participant brings to the table! In this way, I hope that the workshop will be a space where we can form a community of support. 

What are you most looking forward to in joining Dance Waterloo this season?

I am grateful to Dance Waterloo for organizing this series. Their presence in my life has helped make Greater Austin feel like home! At this moment, connecting with others is so affirming and renewing. I applaud their creative efforts to offer exciting classes this Fall. If you have any questions about the Alexander Technique workshop, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me: rebekahannchappell@gmail.com or Dance Waterloo. I hope to meet you soon!

Alexander Technique Series Dates: 

November 7, 14, 21 and December 12, 19 from 1:30-3:00pm

This series is limited to 12 participants. Social distancing and masks are required. 

Register here or at dancewaterloo.org.

Noelle Billings

Executive Director

Dance Waterloo

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