Check here for upcoming classes I'm offering that are open to the public in The Alexander Technique, somatic practice, dance improvisation, interdisciplinary practice, and movement composition.
Alexander Technique Small Group Class
Wednesday evenings October 25 - November 15, 2023
85 N. Main St., White River Junction, VT
$100 for 4-classes or
$145 for 4-classes + a 30-minute private lesson -scheduled at your convenience
Please email rachelbernsen(at)gmail.com with any questions and to register.
Pay online Here.
This class will be an introduction to the Technique and will include some basic information about our bodies' innate breathing coordination. In this class we'll slow things down so we can tune into our own habits, explore ways of unfixing learned movement patterns, and allow for new experiences of being in motion. I will support each of you with hands-on guidance, movement explorations, group demonstrations, activities, and discussion. No previous experience required. Open to new and returning students.
Students need to register and pay in advance for the whole course. Single class sign ups are not available for this class.
Contemplative Dance Practice - in-person, ongoing
Tuesdays (usually twice per month)
Drop-ins welcome / rsvp's nice too
For more info/to rsvp: rachelbernsen(at)gmail.com
Co-facilitators: Rachel Bernsen & Julie Püttgen
Location: First Congregational Church Lebanon - 10 South Park St. Lebanon, NH 03766 Location Info
No previous experience required
Contemplative Dance Practice (CDP) is a meditation and movement improvisation practice originated by Barbara Dilley that includes three sections: meditation, personal warm-up, and open space. In developing CDP, Barbara Dilley integrated dance and Buddhist practice. Her book, This Very Moment, has a chapter on CDP. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Tibetan meditation master, asked Dilley to design the dance program at Naropa University, which he founded.
Once all participants are comfortable with the structure, the practice is not led. As the facilitator Julie or I will keep time and transition the group to the next section.
CDP is divided into 3 sections:
1. Sitting Meditation Practice (or lying down, walking)
"There are three aspects: posture; breathing; and noticing thinking, the moving mind. When your posture is upright and relaxed, breathing is light and easy. Notice thinking and back to breathing."
2. Personal Awareness Practice
Stay seated or go out into the space. Focusing on a self practice.
"In Personal Awareness Practice, explore your way of bringing meditation awareness into movement in this very moment…Listen to the voice of body mind, and as Gertrude Stein says 'use everything.' It's time for self-care, research, and courting the unexpected. Wait for sudden images and sensations to surprise you, to move you. Follow them. Develop them. And rest often. Encourage Kinesthetic Delight.”
Delight is "not pleasure-oriented but simply because when you exist as what you are, you thrive on being alive." -Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
3. Open Space
You stay sitting with awareness or go into the center or space around cushions. Bow to enter and to exit the space. Come and go from your cushion as often as you like. Moving solo or with others, there is more of an awareness of community than the previous section, though still individually sourced. Also be aware of the space, the environs.
"Open space holds each one of us as we are. It is rigorous because awareness is moving between our inner and outer noticing and we are tracking the nowness of it all...Who knows what will happen?"
Closing meditation, reflection, discussion
/// Past Offerings ///
Performance Practice: Strategies for Dance Improvisation and Interdisciplinary Collaboration
Monday January 9, 2023
$15-$25 (sliding scale)
Ayako Kato/Art Union Humanscape Open Company Class Series
Links Hall - 3111 N. Western Ave. Chicago, IL 60618
Registration is recommended. Contact Ayako for more info\to register
We'll engage in a guided movement meditation to bring us into the space and to prepare ourselves for our practice together. Then we'll move on to movement explorations using compositional and improvisational strategies from a range of sources, navigating these different approaches as a means to expand our range as improvisors and foster greater awareness of our own, in-the-moment choice making. We’ll investigate the ways in which they open us up to the experience of self, to connection with others and to the pleasure of being in the moment. We'll explore individual approaches to these ideas in a time-condensed laboratory process for creating a seed of our own improvisational structure or score and sharing them with the group. This could be in the form of sharing notes, discussion, directing others, or a solo performance. Our aim over all will be to leave space for both knowing and not knowing, for spontaneity, and to playfully embrace risk.
We’ll explore strategies from artists I’ve worked with including composer Anthony Braxton’s Language Music Types, and Yvonne Rainer’s “radical juxtaposition”. In addition, we’ll look at Merce Cunningham and John Cage’s framework for performance, the collaborative work of musician Bill Dixon and dancer Judith Dunn, among others. I’ll share principles developed over many years with my music and dance collective Masters of Ceremony, with composer and instrumentalist Taylor Ho Bynum, along with collaborations with other musicians, writers and visual artists.
Contemplative Dance Practice - in-person
Sunday July 24, 2022
Drop-in's welcome / no advanced registration required
The Junction Dance Festival
Open Door, 18 N. Main St. WRJ, VT 05001
The Art of Undoing - in-person
July 16-17, 2022
A 2-day somatic and gentle movement workshop using the principles of the Alexander Technique.
Saturday July 16, 2-4:30pm
Sunday July 17, 10:30am-12:30pm
Open Door - 18 N. Main St. WRJ, VT 05001
$125 (pre-registration required)
Info and register: Open Door
Allow muscle tissue to let go and lengthen ease-fully to make everyday movement less stressful. Access the means to “think in activity” to make change and undo unhealthy or unhelpful movement patterns.
In this 2-day workshop we’ll slow things down. A slower pace is a valuable tool for investigation. It allows for the release of unwanted muscular effort to get to a deeper state of quiet and comfort, both in activity and at rest. We’ll take our time to explore where movement happens in our bodies, becoming attuned to the range of motion in our joints and spine. This level of specificity invites greater connectivity between all our moving parts. It supports a more coordinated, unified experience of being and moving in the world.
This workshop is a hybrid approach to the Alexander Technique. Rachel also brings principles and movement explorations from other methods and techniques she’s studied in her 30 plus years as a dance artist, somatic practitioner, and perennial student of many movement forms.
Please note: we will spend a lot of time moving and resting on the floor in this workshop. You’ll want to be comfortable doing so with minimal support. Yoga mats and head supports will be provided.
No prior experience with Alexander Technique necessary. Some previous experience with movement will be helpful, but not required. Questions about the workshop and if it’s right for you?
Refining Leg Direction and Support - online
Saturday June 25, 2022
AmSAT 2022 Virtual Annual Conference
Register for the conference
With any donation, enjoy a previous iteration of this class taught as part of the Judith Leibowitz Scholarship Fund virtual workshop series:
JLSF Bernsen Workshop
This experiential workshop will augment Alexander directions, deepening our understanding of how our legs connect into our pelvis and spine, and release into movement.
Through application, anatomical images and discussion this workshop will offer a deeper investigation of direction, connection and release of the legs, pelvis and spine. The release of the legs, especially the inner legs and groin, are crucial to allowing the back to widen and release back and up.
The movement explorations can be done without a partner at home and with your students. This class offers a hybridized approach to Alexander Technique, drawing upon my study of many movement modalities over thirty years as a modern dancer and student of movement, including Iyengar yoga, Feldenkrais, Body-Mind Centering, and Contact Improvisation.
- Please have a mat or rug to lie down on, a yoga belt (or bathrobe tie or equivalent that’s not stretchy), and a yoga block (or something firm and equivalent width but light weight like a folded towel).
No previous experience necessary. All are welcome.