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Outside In: Using the Michael Chekhov Acting Method to Enhance Dancer Performance

  • Author(s): Lastrina, Melanie
  • Advisor(s): Fisher, Jennifer
  • et al.
Abstract

Dancers are often asked by choreographers and teachers to be expressive, fill movement with meaning or purpose, and perform steps in captivating ways, but are rarely taught how to do so. Is there a way to fill in the gap that exists in dancer training that teaches movement artists how to enhance their performance quality? This thesis explores how the psycho-physical, movement-based Michael Chekhov acting method could be developed to give dancers the tools needed to make choices within their technique. I choreographed and taught a nine-minute dance to five university dance majors while simultaneously training them in the Chekhov method to see if the technique could help them perform the different qualities of movement I was looking for. The students learned the basic Chekhov exercises of the Ball Toss, Expansion/Contraction, Imaginary Centers, Qualities of Movement, and Sensations in five one-hour sessions, and anonymously handed in journal entries after each lesson describing their experience and progress. Because the dancers performed my piece in a much more captivating way after they had gone through the Chekhov training, this suggests that the Michael Chekhov method could be a useful step in filling in the gap that exists in improving dancer expressivity.

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