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DIPLO PRESENTS THE FIRST CONCERT IN CUBA BY A MAJOR POP ACT FROM THE U.S.

Diplo and Kristof Konrad in rehearsalsLast year, Kristof Konrad coached D.J. and Producer Diplo with his voice and physicality for Red Bull TV’s Diplo Presents: @LARGE. The series follows influential modern artists through their creative process as they make new large-scale public works. The whole learning experience was deeply appreciated by Diplo and the series producer, David Solomini.

On March 6, the New York Times published an article in the Music-Arts section about Diplo and his free concert by his Caribbean-influenced electronic group, Major Lazer. “I know you’ve been waiting a long time for a party like this . . .” Diplo called out to an estimated 450,000 pulsating young Cubans at the waterfront plaza known as the José Martí Anti-Imperialist Platform in Havana.

This was Diplo in Cubathe first concert in Cuba by a major pop act from the United States since the reinstatement of diplomatic relations between the two countries in December 2014. Unlike the presumably pan-generational concert in Havana by the Rolling Stones later this month — days after President Obama becomes the first American president to visit in 88 years — this concert was very much oriented to youth culture.

Last month, Diplo won two Grammy Awards for his work with Jack Ü (a collaboration with the producer Skrillex), before setting off for Cuba, one of the few Caribbean nations where Major Lazer, with its reggaeton and dancehall influences, had yet to perform.

Diplo with headphones

Bravo Diplo!

 

MATT LEVETT (WINNER OF THE 2015 HEATH LEDGER SCHOLARSHIP AWARD) TRAINS WITH JEAN-LOUIS RODRIGUE IN AUSTRALIA AND LOS ANGELES

Matt Levett & Heath LedgerWhy do so many Australian actors keep getting hired for TV and film in America these days? Is it their training, hunger for new skills, or a remarkable work ethic and raw talent? Jean-Louis Rodrigue has been teaching many of the rising Aussie talents for the past five years in Melbourne and Sydney, and a year ago, taught two master classes at Australia’s highly regarded NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts). Also, many of the actors end up moving and getting work in Los Angeles.

This was the case with Matt Levett, who was encouraged to study with Jean-Louis by his Alexander Technique teacher Barbara Robertson in Sydney, Australia. This experience began a working relationship that is continuing in Los Angeles, and keeps growing with Matt’s steady ascent to leading roles in film and television.

Matt Levett on the set of KIDActor-Director Matt Levett won the annual Heath Ledger Scholarship Award in 2015, given by the L.A.-based industry guild, Australians In Film (AiF) Heath Ledger Scholarship Award. Established in 2008 in memory of Australian actor Heath Ledger, the organization awards an exceptional young Australian actor who possesses a rare and unique combination of talent and screen presence.

Levett hails from Ledger’s home state of Western Australia, and is a graduate of the Western Australian Academy of the Performing Arts (WAAPA), Hugh Jackman’s alma mater. He has appeared in top rated Aussie TV dramas such as Devil’s Playground and A Place To Call Home, made his feature debut in critically acclaimed Australian film Drown, and has directed the Tropfest Film Festival short film Unwanted Friend. Currently, he is shooting a new Australian TV series Wolf Creek.
Matt Levett Headshot

I’ve been teaching/directing in Australia since 1997 and just finished my fifth job last month. Many Aussies are thrilled with their Hollywood invasion. An Aussie friend said: ‘We are laughing about it in disbelief.’ I asked, ‘Why disbelief?’ and she said, ‘We usually suffer from the tall poppy syndrome in Australia. That means we can’t get our heads too high or they’ll be lopped off. No one is allowed to be better than anyone else. Or think they are, or lord it over anyone else.’ This might mean that Australians are very averse to the pretensions of the old British class system of being lorded over by their betters. And it may account for a kind of charm and diffidence that casting people are attracted to. (MEL SHAPIRO, Director)

KRISTOF KONRAD CONNECTS BACK TO HIS POLISH ROOTS IN “BREATHE” AND “ALL THESE VOICES”

Paul Kowalski, Alicja Bachleda, Kristof Konrad on the set of BREATHE

Paul Kowalski, Alicja Bachleda, & Kristof Konrad on set for Breathe (Photo Credit: Yannick Belamine)

Recently, Kristof was asked to star in two short films with Polish themes, directed by two up-and-coming AFI film directors.

Breathe, a psychological thriller directed by Paul Kowalski, is the story of Dr. Filip Kardel (Kristof Konrad), an ambitious Polish neurosurgeon working in America, struggling to cope with the loss of his wife, Ania (Alicja Bachleda). He is haunted by the memories of her untimely death and his neglect of her (in favor of his career). Will he escape the prison of his grief and guilt or will it destroy him?

Paul Kowalski and Kristof Konrad, BREATHE

Paul Kowalski & Kristof Konrad on set for Breathe (Photo Credit: Yannick Belamine)

Breathe has been selected in competition at the Beverly Hills Film Festival, and will have its premiere on April 8th, 2016 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood!


kristofkonradAll These Voices, written and directed by David Hanry Gerson, brings Janusz (Kristof Konrad) returns to Poland in the days following the end of World War II. While a young SS officer hides in an abandoned Polish theater, a theater troupe of survivors enters to celebrate the end of the war. Having camouflaged his identity, and remaining mute so as not to reveal his native German tongue, the soldier joins the survivors in a vibrant celebration. As he witnesses the expression of their painful past, he is forced to come to terms with his complicity in their grief.

All these Voices - Kristof KonradStarring Kristof Konrad, Harrison Thomas, Beata Pozniak, Kinga Philipps, Anthony Nikolchev, and Kasia Kowalczyktakes

MARY McDONNELL REUNITES WITH JEAN-LOUIS RODRIGUE TO WORK ON “THE CHERRY ORCHARD”

Mary-McDonnell-in-The-Cherry-OrchardJean-Louis Rodrigue first worked with Mary McDonnell in 1991 when she was preparing for her Oscar-nominated role in John Sayles’ Passion Fish. She plays a soap opera actress with a severe drinking problem who is paralyzed from the waist down from an auto accident. Mary was concerned that her habitual tension in her neck and shoulders would hamper her ability to express the character’s violent tantrums and sense of deep loss. For two months, Jean-Louis and Mary worked intensely, using the principles of the Alexander Technique to free Mary of the excessive tension between her head and spine, and to integrate the breathing mechanism to bring more fluidity in her upper body, thus allowing herself to articulate these emotions more freely.

Mary McDonnell & Alfre Woodard in Passion Fish

Mary McDonnell & Alfre Woodard in Passion Fish

Mary did a masterful job of playing the imperious, mercurial actress. Her tempestuous relationship with her caregiver (Alfre Woodard) and her romantic relationship with her boyfriend (the brilliant David Strathiirn) create a vivid, living, touching portrayal of a human being. Her work in Passion Fish was honored by a 1992 Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

One of the most rewarding things for Jean-Louis is getting to work with the same people over the years. After continuing her work in TV and film for the 20+ years after Passion Fish, Mary sought to work with Jean-Louis again to prepare for her role as Madame Ranyevskaya in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, again opposite David Strathairn as her brother at People’s Light Theater Company in Pennsylvania. One reviewer encapsulates Mary’s performance:

Mary McDonnell & David Strathairn in The Cherry Orchard

Mary McDonnell & David Strathairn in The Cherry Orchard (Photo Credit: Mark Garvin)

McDonnell was magnificent as the epitome of the out-of-touch aristocratic landowner, cheerfully fluttering around the stage, gushing about her childhood memories of the cherry orchard, grieving for the loss of her son, charmingly tossing off cruel remarks to others with a careless candor (“You’ve gotten old and ugly!”), refusing to deal with the inevitable, and in denial about the reversal of fortune that has befallen her, her family, and her entire class, while awaiting a deus exmachina that never comes.

For Jean-Louis, the experience of working with such a masterful, profound actress was as exciting as the first time in 1991.

JUSTIN CHATWIN TRAINS WITH JEAN-LOUIS RODRIGUE TO EMBODY AJAX

Justin Chatwin and Kate Micucci in UNLEASHEDJustin Chatwin has been studying the Alexander Technique and Animal Studies for several years with Jean-Louis and Kristof. Last summer, he was cast as Ajax, one of the main characters in a new indie film Unleashed due out Summer 2016. When a cosmic event turns Emma’s dog and cat into two perfect guys, Emma reconsiders her outlook on dating, hilariously works out her trust issues, and ultimately learns to love herself. Justin plays the cat who has been transformed into human form, so he was given plenty of opportunity to use Animal Studies in the development of his character.

Justin Chatwin and cast of UNLEASHEDUnleashed was written and directed by three-time Sundance alum Finn Taylor (Dream with the Fishes, Cherish, & The Darwin Awards) and produced by fellow Sundance alum and Independent Spirit Award winner Susan Johnson (Mean Creek). Shot in July 2015 in and around San Francisco, this comedy is a departure for Finn, and a story that comes straight from the heart:

“I have always been fascinated by the ability of animals to open up the trust and love in us. They do it in ways we often find difficult to do for each other. I’ve seen the largest, toughest men melt to the wags of a puppy.”
Unleashed the Movie

ROBIN WILLIAMS AT JUILLIARD

RememberingRobinWilliams
Jean-Louis remembers Robin Williams:

Robin Williams was wildly funny and inventive, deeply sensitive, and a profoundly generous person.

During his training at Juilliard, Robin studied the Alexander Technique with Judith Leibowitz, the first Alexander Technique teacher to teach at Juilliard. He loved his Alexander group classes and private lessons. This is probably where he found his ability to transform himself into so many different and memorable characters. It was at Juilliard and in these classes that he developed a friendship with Christopher Reeve, and the two became lifelong friends. Robin would later come to Reeve’s aid after the Superman actor became paralyzed following a horse-riding accident in 1995. Robin Williams began his studies at Juilliard in 1973 but left the school without graduating in 1976. In 1991, Juilliard presented him with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree.
Robin’s most recent stage role, and perhaps his most significant, was in the 2011 Broadway production of Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. In the wartime drama, a heavily bearded Williams improbably played a captive tiger that is killed after it mauls an American soldier. Watch and listen to the video inside this New York Times article.

 

KRISTOF KONRAD on INTELLIGENCE, MARCH 17, 2014 at 10PM/PT on CBS

Kristof Konrad in Intelligence

Watch Kristof Konrad

as Torbin Salvi in INTELLIGENCE

Mon. MARCH 17 at 10PM/PT on CBS

Kristof Konrad in Intelligence

JEAN-LOUIS RODRIGUE’S PATH TO ACTING AND THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE

Welcome to our blog. My first post, “Turning Points,” explores a recent time travel journey back to 1968 when my path to acting and the Alexander Technique began. . .

Keir Banner in 2001, A Space Odyssey - Alexander Technique

Keir Dullea in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Courtesy of MGM

Recently I was vividly reminded why I chose to pursue a career focused on acting and the Alexander Technique. The memory came to me as I was viewing an extraordinary exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) about one of my favorite film directors, Stanley Kubrick. The way Kubrick, one of the most outstanding directors of all time, described himself and the art of filmmaking is very telling of who he was: “A director is a kind of idea and taste machine; a movie is a series of creative and technical decisions, and it’s the director’s job to make the right decisions as frequently as possible.” The exhibition showcased all of Kubrick’s major films, and when I entered the room devoted to 2001: A Space Odyssey, my mind traveled back to a major turning point in my life.

It was 1968 when I saw 2001 at Philadelphia’s Randolph Cinerama Theatre. I was 17 and didn’t pretend to completely understand the story, but the film stunned me, and I knew the course of my life had just changed. The musical prologue, Ligeti’s Atmospheres, was haunting, and the first images, startlingly beautiful and raw. The title of the first part, “The Dawn of Man,” foreshadowed a journey into the planet’s primal times, when the first man in prehistory came to life. The man-ape characters were remarkable, and I believed their life and behavior were real. They go on to develop their intelligence through contact with extra terrestrial life and learn to kill. Their engagement with the Monolith instigates the first technological leap: the formation of a tool that irreversibly alters their circumstances. It is their inquisitiveness, on all levels, that initiates the change and famous leap into the future.

Keir Dullea - Acting and Alexander Technique

Keir Dullea, the actor who inspired Jean-Louis Rodrigue to work in theatre and film
© Jules Schick

Meanwhile, a second artifact buried deep on the lunar surface is programmed to signal word of man’s first baby steps into the universe — a kind of cosmic burglar alarm. And a third artifact orbits around Jupiter waiting for man to reach the outer rim of his own solar system. When the surviving astronaut, Dave Bowman (played by Keir Dullea) reaches Jupiter, the artifact sweeps him into a force field or star gate that hurls him on a journey through inner and outer space and transports him to another part of the galaxy, where he’s drawn out of his own dreams and imagination. His life passes from middle age to senescence to death. He is reborn, an enhanced being, a star child, an angel, a superman, and returns to earth prepared for the next leap forward in man’s evolutionary destiny.

When the film was over and the lights came up, I suddenly had a new awareness of my life. I felt excited to be living at a time when the world was changing — socially, technologically, politically, scientifically, and artistically. The film was setting a new standard. I knew then that I whatever I did, I somehow had to be involved with acting.

More than anything else, it was Keir Dullea’s performance as astronaut Bowman that moved me so much, with its precision and strange authenticity. His interpretation of the character was so minimal and cold that I was able to feel, in contrast, the bizarre humanity of HAL 9000, the all-too-human computer that was breaking down. I wished I could meet Keir; there was so much I wanted to ask him.

At the time, I was a reporter on my high school newspaper, so it occurred to me that I might use that credential to get an interview with him. I knew he was in Philadelphia, appearing in “Star Spangled Girl” at the Playhouse in the Park, so I called his agent and, sure enough, arranged to talk with him after a matinee performance. I couldn’t believe it.

Waiting for Keir backstage in the green room, I was so nervous. The Playhouse was a permanent tent-like theatre in the round, so the backstage and dressing rooms area were very Spartan but I didn’t care. I’d never met a professional actor, especially one who had touched me so deeply. But as soon as he came in, I relaxed. He was calm, direct and friendly, and I was able to focus on the questions I’d written down in advance. Not only did he answer every one about the movie and his role; he also shared his perspective on the best acting training and how I should go about pursuing an acting career.

Jean-Louis Rodrigue (R) interviewing Keir Dullea (L) - Alexander Technique

Jean-Louis Rodrigue (right) interviewing Keir Dullea (left)
© Jules Schick

I asked what had inspired him to become an actor. He said he developed a love of drama while doing plays at a boarding school in Newtown, Pa. He then went to Rutgers and spent some time in San Francisco doing odd jobs, including carpentry.

It was his parents who suggested he might want to study drama instead. And that’s what he did — in New York at the Neighborhood Playhouse under Sanford Meisner and Martha Graham. He got his Actors Equity card in 1957.

When I asked if he thought I should study drama at a university, he recommended instead that I find an acting teacher who inspired me or an acting studio where I felt creative. Study in New York, he said, with the likes of Sanford Meisner, Stella Adler, Uta Hagen and Lee Strasberg. He advised me to build my own program in voice, speech, movement, and the Alexander Technique.

No one had ever spoken to me so passionately about acting or training in the theatre. My mind was spinning and my heart was racing. Right then I decided I would see as many plays as I could and delve into research about training as an actor.

In 1969, I started studying with Herbert Berghof at the HB Studio in New York. Two years later, William Ball awarded me a full scholarship to the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. A few years later, I trained as an Alexander Technique teacher with Frank Ottiwell and Giora Pinkas at the American Center for the Alexander Technique also in San Francisco.

Today, I am an internationally recognized acting coach and teacher of the Alexander Technique, and a pioneer in the technique’s application to film, theater, and television. My client list includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Binoche, Hilary Swank, Josh Brolin, Helena Bonham Carter, Jonathan Pryce, and Matt Bomer. I have worked for most of the major Hollywood studios, on and off Broadway, and at major performing institutions including the Royal Shakespeare Company, Cirque du Soleil, Verbier Festival, Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute, National Theatre, and the Berlinale Talent Campus. Since 1988, I have been a member of the faculty at the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television.

Seeing Keir Dullea perform and then meeting him changed my life, and started me on an adventure that has lasted to this day. I’m thankful to Keir for igniting that passion within me, and to his agent for helping a boy’s dream come true.

ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE IN FILM: JEAN-LOUIS & KRISTOF ATTRACT EUROPEAN TALENTS

Kristof & Jean-Louis Teaching at Berlinale 2013 - Alexander Technique in Film

Kristof Konrad & Jean-Louis Rodrigue teaching in Berlin
© Myrna Maakaron

During the past five years, Jean-Louis Rodrigue and Kristof Konrad have been invited to teach intensive workshops in Berlin and in Milan during the summer months. This is an extraordinary experience because they work with the most talented young actors in Europe, as well as established, recognizable stars.

This year, Jean-Louis and Kristof accepted an invitation from the Generation Campus, an intensive film training program with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. The major labs included a Script Lab, Music Lab, Animation Studio, Documentary Lab, and the production of a short film.

Acting in Film, Berlin 2013 - Alexander Technique in Film

Nicole Marischka & Albrecht Abraham Schuch
© Myrna Maakaron

The workshops in Berlin and Moscow were called Acting in Film and the Alexander Technique, with the main focus on the “close-up.” The actors explored the skills and the tools that are required for the creation of believable characters and performances specifically geared for the camera.

In Milan, acting teacher and long time friend Michael Rodgers invited Jean-Louis and Kristof to teach a workshop at his studio for a talented group of actors. This particular program called Embodying The Character was geared toward exploring ways of developing the character through the body using the Alexander Technique, animal studies, rhythm, and other methods.

Alexander Technique in Film, Berlin 2013

Sara Sommerfeldt & Rodja Troscher
© Myrna Maakaron

Many of the actors participating in Berlin have been working with Jean-Louis and Kristof for many years. The beauty of having a long-working relationship with the actors is the artistic growth that comes from developing a common vocabulary of learning, allowing the work to propel forward. Jean-Louis and Kristof were thrilled with their workshop in Berlin, agreeing:

The experience was remarkable, probably the best workshop we have ever taught.

Berlin Acting in Film Workshop 2013 - Alexander Technique in Film

Acting in Film Workshop, Berlin 2013
© Myrna Maakaron

MATT BOMER PREPARING WITH JEAN-LOUIS RODRIGUE FOR “THE NORMAL HEART” ON HBO, 2014

the normal heart

Matt Bomer in The Normal Heart

Matt Bomer, who stars in White Collar (USA), will be playing the character of Felix Turner in the film adaptation of Larry Kramer’s play, The Normal Heart. Originally penned in the early 1980’s, Kramer’s play had its premiere performances in New York in 1985. It is an intense, deeply personal chronicle of and response to the AIDS epidemic’s initial outbreak.  As a longtime rabble-rousing author and gay activist, Kramer served as the driving force behind the in-your-face ACT UP movement, and has been a controversial figure in the gay community for seemingly forever. The Normal Heart charts his own dramatic journey through those early, terrifying days of the AIDS epidemic in New York City as he tried to focus the city and the nation on an insidious plague that stalked the gay community with—at least initially—no known cause or origin.

Matt Bomer & Mark Ruffalo

Matt Bomer with Mark Ruffalo

Matt Bomer’s character, Felix, contracts AIDS in the early 80’s and slowly succumbs to the devastation of the HIV virus. In order to prepare for the very challenging physical transformation, Matt is currently preparing with Jean-Louis Rodrigue to embody the character, and to map out the physical transformation.  Jean-Louis is using the Alexander Technique as a way for Matt to connect with his body and prepare for the intense physical requirements of the role.  Stephen Spinella, who played Prior Walter in the original cast of Angels in America, also used the Alexander Technique as a way to prepare for and release the accumulated tension built up as a result of playing a dying AIDS patient.

In 2011, the Broadway production of The Normal Heart won a Tony Award for Best Broadway Revival. Emmy-winner Ryan Murphy (“Glee”) will direct The Normal Heart film, which Kramer adapted into a screenplay from his landmark play. Other members of the cast include Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, Joe Mantello, Taylor Kitsch, and Jim Parsons. Production is slated to start in New York this summer, with a 2014 premiere planned on HBO.

BELCIM BILGIN EMBRACES THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE WITH KRISTOF KONRAD

Belcim Bilgin - Alexander Technique

Belcim Bilgin in The Dream of A Butterfly

Belcim Bilgin, born in Ankara, discovered the Alexander Technique while training with Kristof Konrad and Jean-Louis Rodrigue at the Talent Actors Stage, a program at the Berlinale Talent Campus last February.  The experience was so profound that she decided to pursue further training with Kristof in Los Angeles.  Bilgin comes back regularly between work to prepare for her roles.

While working on her first film Kilometer Zero in Paris, she also received instruction in the French language at the Sorbonne School of Languages. In 2005, Kilometer Zero was released and entered in the 2005 Cannes Film Festival to great success.

Belcim Bilgin - Alexander Technique

Bilgin took the leading role in Rezan Yeşilbaş’s short film Silent (Be Deng), which received the Palm d’Or for Best Short Film at the 65th Cannes Film Festival. Most recently she has been working on her upcoming film, The Dream of a Butterfly (Kelebeğin Rüyası), which was set in 1940s Turkey, recounting the lives of Zonguldak-based authors, Rüştü Onur and Muzaffer Tayyip Uslu. The film screened in competition at the last Cannes Film Festival.

Watch the The Dream of a Butterfly trailer here.

Watch Bilgin working with Jean-Louis Rodrigue & Kristof Konrad at Berlinale Talent Campus #11 here.