Andy’s work has emerged from over 30 years of deep engagement with several methods of movement, voice and actor training. A master teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework®, a certified teacher of Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement®, and a certified teacher of Open Source Forms® (related to Skinner Releasing), Andy also brings a depth of experience in acting methodologies and movement forms to link the voice and breath with the body’s impulses to move. His depth of experience in several forms of movement modes - Lecoq, Contact Improvisation, Butoh - afford him a wealth of tools to guide performers toward increased depth, freedom, and layers of meaning in their work.
Integration of the moving body, breath, text, and space are essential ingredients of Andy’s innovative work with actors. He is pioneering new work linking perception (seeing, hearing, touch), stimulation, and the research advances of the last 30 years connecting the mind/body with the world . Through his ongoing research with neuroscientists, stress and trauma researchers/clinicians, gerontologists, and somatic practitioners Andy is discovering innovative ways for actors to respond in highly stimulating environments (auditions, live performance, camera work, interviews) with freedom, depth, specificity, and layers of full-blooded humanity.
Andy’s brings a joyful approach to linking areas of neuroscience with performance in ways that an actor can readily digest and use in daily practice. In the end, Andy honors the artful mysteries of acting while grounding his students in useful understandings about how the human body/mind interact with the world.
Andy believes in a ‘deep/wide’ practice of moving deeply into an area of work - an actor’s patterns of breathing, for example - and then widening that understanding to apply it to voice, text, movement, creating new work, and inhabiting space. Andy specializes in helping actors unify practices of movement, voice, emotional engagement, character across styles of work.
Below are a few specific areas of Andy’s approach:
Andy works with seeing as a fundamental part of acting. Our eyes orient our minds/bodies in the world in such fundamental ways that we forget to pay attention to how and what we are really seeing. Of course, seeing is just of the senses through which we gather the world into ourselves, but it links so fully with the images we use to capture the world in language and motion and space. Additionally, learning what our eyes are doing, with what quality we are seeing, and how images are the lifeblood of our imagination (image-ination).
Andy has many exercises involving seeing, and here are just a few areas: movement exercises linking seeing with a particular action of the arm, head, leg, spine, etc.; tracking and seeing the imagery through a monologue and scene; learning to see softly and with sharp focus; learning the connection of the breath/diaphragm and the eyes; becoming aware of the challenges and power of seeing/being seen. We can view characters through how and what they see in the world, and how movement, attitudes, breath/voice, and rhythms are shaped by seeing.
Andy has also developed exercises connecting seeing as a part of listening, which is a focus of many acting practices. To a greater or lesser degree in each person, our senses entwine with each other. Seeing someone or something might inspire a touch sensation or a sound or song. As we are principally a visually-based culture ( did you ‘see’ that actor in that movie?) seeing with specificity and subtly, becoming aware of what our eyes are doing, and orienting our eyes with the rest of whole selves are critical skills for actors.
. . . what we call ‘mind’ and what we call ‘body’ are not two things, but rather aspects of one organic process . . . Change your brain, your body, or your environments in nontrivial ways, and you will change how you experience the world, what things are meaningful to you, and even who you are.
- Mark Johnson (The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding)
Everything we feel, do and experience in the world causes us to move in response. We are 'moved' by a person, place, song, or event. Today’s thinkers and researchers are nearly settled that our brains and bodies are inextricably entwined. We need to integrate movement as an essential foundation of training, evolving beyond movement as just one silo of performance training. If it’s true, as neuroscientist Antonio Damasio’s suggests that feelings are the ‘mental experiences of body states’, then our moving bodies capture, reflect, and initiate the action of our whole selves and we are all wired to perceive each of these delicate articulations in others.
The work of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais is an especially influential universe of thought, practice, and learning in Andy’s work. Through approaching acting as a process of learning to initiate action, we can become aware of how we create patterns affecting everything we do - seeing, breathing, speaking, reaching, standing, walking, acting on a desire. And as we learn, we can begin to approximate the actions of another person - i.e. a character. Creating a character is an operation of sensing the whole self and usefully approached through bodily awareness.
Andy brings many years of study in his own movement patterns, guided such forms as Feldenkrais, Lecoq, Skinner Releasing, Contact Improvisation, Hanna Somatics, each of which have been influential to Andy’s repertoire of understanding and approaching the needs and learning styles of individual performers.
Andy is a master teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework, and continues to explore and combine that work with movement, creative process, and with acting methodologies. Fundamental to Andy’s voice work with actors is guiding an awareness of voice as a complementary series of movement actions involving structures in close proximity to the lungs, vibration generators (voice box), articulators, and resonators.
Learning voice work must involve the breath, but often the breath is fundamentally, quickly, and efficiently changed by parts of our anatomy and relationship to the world that are far from not typically related to the lungs, ribs, or diaphragm. For example, the feet and ankles can shift our relationship to gravity, thereby changing our relationship to the ground, resulting in a voice more rooted and responsive to place - or more ‘grounded’. Seeing, and learning the relationship between our eyes and our breath and body, is another uncommon way Andy helps guide actors toward a more expressive and productive voice.
In our lives and in acting, we move and are moved by many stimuli and our breath and voice respond. Andy works with voice as a movement action involving the entire self, and helps performers differentiate what they are doing that may be constricting or freeing their voices. Inspired by the work of Linguist George Layoff, philosopher Mark Johnson, and their research into neurolinguistics, Andy works with language as a spatial engagement through image, helping actors to create architecture that can anchor and locate their bodily sensation in fluid space, allowing language to emerge in response to stimulations that happen in space.
The Desire Body
Andy developed Desire Body work to explore longing and desire in broad contexts beyond love scenes, enabling performers to express the imbalance of intimate situations with specificity. Through years of developing this work, desire has come to include a broader range of wanting, obsession, and driving forces, including: anger, fear, power, hatred, and more.
This work cultivates divergent energies within states that are often seen as singular and moving forward. For example, an actor’s body can express a physically specific, erotic charge for another, even while experiencing a chaotic repulsion in the other’s presence. Desire Body work addresses the forward‐leaning “go” mode that can constrain performing bodies while rendering highly‐charged work. Through this work, the important objectives/actions schema learned in fundamental Stanislavski-based training can deepen into a visceral, sympathetic knowing shared with its audience through the multi-‐directional physicality a performer attending to the many facets of the desire body of its characters
Desire Body guides actors toward more flexible, resonant, and responsive to intimacy through opening experience of:
- the body and whole self as multi-directional, layered , and capable of sudden energetic expressions
- the spatial context of inner + outer spaces, extending intimate relationships into charged locations
- personal patterns triggered by intimacy + shaping characters' intimacy response patterns
The space of our own bodies is our spatial first home. Spaces and places where we find our selves are our second home(s).Skin is a primary connector between our first + second homes - seeing, hearing, and smell are other connections. Stimulus felt as sensation can move from our first home second second or from our second home to our first home.
Characters can be created as architectural structures, and then lived out in space. We are not making solid things, but organisms that are full of paradox, competing desires, unknowings, and flinching responses to the world. Attending to theses structures allows us to bring spatial (inner + outer) awareness to structuring character. Though we have rich inner, reflective responses to and memories of our experiences of the world, we do not create a performance principally within ourselves. We respond to stimuli in spaces and we create spaces into and through which performances move. Same with characters. We create conditions for spaces - inside and outside of ourselves - to stay open and resonant.
Paradox + Preoccupation
Borrowing the notion of 'paradox' inspired by Morris Berman (Wandering God: A Study of Nomadic Spirtuality) I work with actors to manifest the horizontal depth of our grounded lives. Vision on the horizon keeps us within the community of humans, experiencing the world’s challenges together. Learning to see softly allows us to bring more into the edges of our attention, and allows our awareness to hold more information - both unified and disparate - in our attention. With more information in our awareness, we can act using more impulses.
In this way, we begin to work with paradox as a practice of allowing preoccupation or chaos. Each of us has many operations happening at once - abstract thinking, sensation (seeing, hearing, touch, etc.), proprioception, breathing, emotion, heartbeat, and much more. Even on the level of our awareness, we often attend to two things at once, or jump to other thoughts and back to a main focus. We are aiming for fluid/free access to paradox (felt as multi-directional awareness or chaos). Practicing preoccupation as a freedom is useful in opening to the patterns of function and awareness at work in a character. It also allows language to slip from our thinking in multitudes of ways and meanings.