Rachel BernsenA bit about me and why I became a teacher of the Alexander Technique:
I first encountered Alexander Technique in 2002 as a dancer dealing with a lot of excess tension. I had no chronic injuries but suffered from acute low back and hip pain on multiple occasions. At this point in my dancing I was performing a lot, severely over-training and dealing with a multitude of low level strains. I also began struggling with muscle memory, i.e. having trouble remembering choreography. I was experiencing increased performance anxiety and as a result was losing a sense of ease, of pleasure in dancing. Knowing I needed change but without really knowing a remedy for these issues I began a journey toward a different approach to movement. I began taking dance classes with teachers who were heavily influenced by the Alexander Technique-which at the time I didn’t know anything about. These dance artist/educators were integrating the principles of AT into their teaching and practice. Through this exposure I soon began taking workshops in Alexander Technique, then began private lessons. Over time, this shift in my training had a profoundly positive effect on my approach to movement, my dynamic alignment, my technical ability and my over-all health. My low back no longer went out on me, my right hip stopped aching, my range of motion increased and I was much more present and available to the challenges and pleasures inherent in moving. I was embodying technique instead of being ruled by it. I could move again. This has had an overwhelmingly positive effect on my career as a performer, teacher and choreographer.

Unintended benefits of learning Alexander to improve my dance technique:
Before learning this work, walking and sitting were often very uncomfortable for me and even though I was actively dancing and performing, my years as an undergrad majoring in English Literature were wrought with discomfort from hours of sitting. What was unforeseen at the time I began studying Alexander, but is now so clear, is that it has brought very positive change in all aspects of my life. In shifting my approach to dance through the application of Alexander, my everyday non-dancing self has been wonderfully effected. I am much more at ease in all that I do and I apply the Technique to all facets of my life.


Where I am today:
Now, as an Alexander Teacher for over five years, my journey with the Technique continues. I take great pleasure in teaching, and through my students I continue to broaden my understanding of this work. I have an active private practice working with students one-to-one where I teach a broad range of professions, bodies, age ranges and abilities. In my practice today many of my students are not performing artists. They are graduate students, working professionals, retirees and teenagers who are learning to address a variety of mobility and quality of life issues. I also teach group classes and workshops to specialized groups including theater students, medical students, music students, professional dancers, dancers-in-training, and offer small group and introductory classes for the general public.

As a dance educator teaching professional and pre-professional students in colleges, universities and currently at the Educational Center for the Arts (ECA), an arts high school, I integrate the principles of Alexander into my class curricula. It provides the basis of my pedagogical practice as a teacher of modern dance.

Last but certainly not least, as a dancer I continue to work toward greater ease in my own body and mind, increasing range of motion and improving my technical skill. It still very much informs the way I move, not just as a dancer but in all the activities of my daily life.