Donna Eshelman: Seven Keys to Skilled Movement

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In 2007 I started teaching graduate students in Theatre Arts at CSUF. It was a voice and movement class and I taught them kinesiology, pilates, injury prevention, and the Feldenkrais Method of neuromuscular reeducation for improving their body awareness, voice, and acting technique. After each Feldenkrais lesson, the actors noticed immediate improvement in posture and vocal ability. Their bodies improved in alignment with ease, their voices were more resonant, improved in projection, etc. At some point the students asked me to look at them doing scenes.

I began to coach their acting by helping them understand how basic movements are organized in the body, how to keep the upper and lower body from splitting (upper body communicating one emotion while lower body communicates another), how to shape their posture and gesture to indicate a certain illness/age/emotion/career of a character, etc...

My approach was purely physical… how to get the effort, shape, and organization of the body to express their emotional choices. With my training in movement analysis and choreography, the results were immediately impactful. In my Los Angeles-based private practice my clientele include actors. Some are ongoing students who attend classes regularly, some take classes or lessons to prepare for a particular role.

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"Donna's guidance was instrumental in helping me create a very difficult and complex character; a man whose shame, guilt, and emotional turmoil precede him. Donna helped to filter these emotions into physical actions and kinetic subtleties that created a safe place for me to hold these difficult emotions, play them truthfully, and then let them go afterwards. The work is very powerful. Her knowledge of it, her guidance, is palpable. I ended up winning a Performance of the Year award for my work."
– Tim Cummings, award winning actor,
The Woodsman


"I believe Donna can make ANY production better!"
– Jeremy Lelliott, Director and Actor
NCIS, 7th Heaven, Melrose Place
Founder and Artistic Director of Coeurage Theatre Company


"Donna helped me find a deeper stillness in my body and guided me to a better understanding of economy of movement which has been essential for the development of my work onscreen and onstage."
– Michael Roark, Actor
The Young and the Restless, Finding Carter, Grey's Anatomy


"I have never thought about the physicality of acting like this before!"
– Shaun Taylor-Corbett, actor, singer, writer
Supremacy, Hi-5, Frankie Valli in 2nd National Tour of Jersey Boys


"Donna really has the ability to see where we need to do the movement!"
– Carryl Lynn
Red State, Melinda, and Alice


"My most grounded, instrumentally available work has come as a result of Donna's training; it is no coincidence that in a long theatrical run, my emotions were never more accessible on stage than when performance nights would follow Donna's classes earlier in the day."
– Jordan Wall, Actor
The Glades, Harry's Law

©2011 Donna Eshelman, All Rights Reserved.
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