…gives you an idea of who I am. Reading this with my professional bio (at the end) you’ll understand why I’ve created
I began dancing as a child – my mom was my first dance teacher. I also loved horses and had a great pony named Shebang when I was a kid. (I have one photo of me and Shebang – this was before the days of cell phones when film was expensive – as soon as I find it in my journals I’ll add it here) As I got older it became evident that I needed to get a larger horse. I wasn’t able to deal with selling my “friend” in order to have money to buy bigger non-friend horse. I had no idea what to do.
About this same time I attended a touring performance of Revelations by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In the middle of that show I knew I wanted to dance like that – I still have the program from that performance in my journals. Twenty years later, I knew, in the same total-body-knowing way, that I would join a women’s creative study group and travel to Egypt when I saw a flyer announcing the program. By this time, Shebang had gotten old and died, I’d become a professional dancer and lived in NYC for seven years, performed nationally, and achieved one of my major life goals – touring as a dancer in Europe. I have journals from all these adventures, also.
I was choreographing and collaborating with composers, started a small alternative performance venue in a gallery with several friends, bought and flipped several houses on Staten Island and a three unit apartment building with a carriage house on Canal Street with my husband and brother, began teaching journal writing workshops for homeless women, and was generally pretty frustrated with life as a dancer. (After a certain age when some one says, “jump – because I said so,” you just say, “no.”) By the late 1980s I realized I’d made and lost more money than my dad had in his whole life – he died when I was 9.
A dancer friend began taking Alexander Technique lessons and had such a powerful experience that she insisted I attend a workshop with her. I was amazed at how wonderfully light my body felt and how easily I was moving. I decided to begin studying the Technique. Someone at the workshop recommended that I work with Mio Morales – this changed my life (along with the trip to Egypt!)!
It’s been a long and winding journey, out of dance, back into dance, to Europe performing with composer Philip Corner, back to KS, teaching with my mom in her studio, off to grad school in dance, grant writing and arts admin, admin in academia, writing, and public art projects. Along the way I’ve taught dance in almost every venue imaginable: in private studios, large and small university programs, as a guest artist in the public schools, as part of after school programs, and for professional dance companies. Constants in my life have been Dance, the Alexander Technique and Mio’s mentorship and training as I became an Alexander Technique teacher.
Mio, a student of Frank Pierce Jones (who studied with F.M. Alexander and his brother A.R. Alexander) and Marjorie Barstow (one of the first teachers trained by F.M. Alexander) is a percussionist and a composer. His is also a gifted Alexander Technique teacher. I chose to work with Mio because I knew if he could learn to play percussion and drums easily, he could teach me to dance easily. And, Mio was one of the few Alexander Technique teachers I met at that time who didn’t say to me, “Why do you want to do that!?” when I brought ballet steps to work on in class.
The next 30 years or so have been a journey in applying the Alexander Technique to the study, performance, and teaching of dance and specifically to classical ballet. This is often a challenge because dance is one of the most end-gaining pursuits in the world and ballet might just be the end-gaining-est!
I’ll stop here with two quotes by H. Havelock Ellis. They describe the intersection of dance, life and the Alexander Technique as I experience them.
“Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts, because it is no mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself.”
“The art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”
Laura Donnelly has been teaching the Alexander Technique privately, in community classes, and at the university level since 1992. In addition to workshop intensives with Marjorie Barstow, Donnelly trained extensively with Mio Morales.
Donnelly, MFA Theatre Arts/Dance – University of Arizona, is a choreographer, teacher, writer, and self-employed business consultant. She has taught dance in universities, public schools, and private studios. Donnelly has incorporated the Alexander Technique into her life since 1987.
Director of Dancing with Ease, Donnelly presents workshops for teachers and students incorporating the Alexander Technique into all aspects of daily living, teaching, studying, and performing in dance, music, and theatre.
Donnelly toured nationally with the Court Dance Company of New York and presented her choreography internationally with composer Philip Corner. Her performance experience encompasses Contemporary, Modern, Ballet, Renaissance and Baroque Dance.
Publications: Meditation in the Dance Studio is published in Teaching with Joy: Educational Practices for the Twenty-First Century, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Long-Distance Choreography, Learning, and Student Engagement A Model for Connecting Students and Faculty Despite Geographic Location – with Heather Trommer-Beardslee, in Dance Education in Practice, Taylor & Francis Group; Dance Technique – a Basis for Lifelong Learning in All in One, Chinese/English magazine.