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Jean-Rodrigue and Kristof Konrad specialize in the application of the Alexander Technique to acting and musical performance in Los Angeles and around the world.

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…more flexibility and pleasure while moving, vocal clarity, freedom of expression, an improvement in muscle tone, increased energy and mental alertness – all elements that lead to heightened artistic quality.

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INTERNATIONAL ACTORS MEET AT BERLINALE TALENTS TO STUDY WITH JEAN-LOUIS RODRIGUE AND KRISTOF KONRAD

Berlinale 2015 w/ Jean-Louis Rodrigue & Kristof Konrad

Jean-Louis Rodrigue & Kristof Konrad with their students from Berlinale’s Talent Actors Stage ©Bettina Ausserhofer

With the main theme being “2015: A Space Discovery,” Berlinale Talents invited 300 emerging filmmakers to discover new ways of looking at cinematic space. With nearly 100 talks and workshops, experts and talent explored film as a multi-dimensional spatial art, jointly discovering various perspectives for the screen, or how characters unfold the action in spaces of edited stories and imagery. Berlinale Talents relates all of this, on a local and global level, to the economic and cultural spaces in which talents create and market their films.

Miguel Nunes in actor's workshop ©Kristof Konrad

Miguel Nunes in Berlinale actor’s workshop, ©Kristof Konrad

Since 2008, Jean-Louis Rodrigue and Kristof Konrad have conducted several high profile workshops within the program of the Berlinale Talents. They were directly involved in the development of the Talent Actors Stage, a hands-on training program for emerging actors which selects 15 to 20 international actors to participate annually. Their workshops include Embodying the Character and Camera Close-up Acting, both of which have become classics and are highly appreciated by the participants every year. Matthijs Wouter Knol, the former Program Manager of Berlinale Talents and the current director of the European Film Market (EFM), recommended Jean-Louis and Kristof to colleagues at various Talent Campus initiatives they co-host in five other vibrant cities in the world: Guadalajara, Buenos Aires, Durban, Sarajevo, and Tokyo. The Guadalajara Talent Campus’ workshop, “Embodying the Character,” was a huge success the last two years. And Jean-Louis and Kristof are looking forward to attending Talents FICG again this month.

Myrna Makaroon, Sebastian Denz, and Jean-Louis Rodrigue at Berlinale 2015

Ralf Schafer, Myrna Makaroon, Sebastian Denz, and Jean-Louis Rodrigue at the Hau Theater. ©Peter Himsel

Florian Weghornthe new Programme Manager for Berlinale Talents, spoke on this year’s thematic focus:

Technically and aesthetically the cinematic space is just being re-invented these days, while our daily living spaces are tangibly being transformed by political and economic upheavals. Filmmakers navigate in many dimensions, their films therefore offer the frameworks or let them overcome boundaries. We look forward to turning Berlinale Talents once again into an open space for encounters, exchanges and networking.

KRISTOF KONRAD IN HOUSE OF CARDS SEASON 3

Kristof Konrad & Robin Wright - House of CardsAlexander Techworks’ teacher and co-founder, Kristof Konrad, appears in season 3 of the highly acclaimed Netflix drama House Of Cards starring Kevin Spacey. (Spacey won the 2015 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series for his role).

Kristof reflected about his time working on the show:

“As an actor, it doesn’t get any better than working on set with people like Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey. I felt the heightened awareness in the air that forced me to be present, listen with my blood, and be available.”

House of Cards premiered its third season on Netflix on February 27, 2015. Catch a glimpse of Kristof in the trailer below. Watch Season 3 now on Netflix.


MATT BOMER WINS GOLDEN GLOBE

Matt Bomer wins Golden Globe
Congratulations to Matt Bomer for his Golden Globe win for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series, or TV Movie for HBO’s The Normal Heart. Part of Matt’s preparation for the role included working with Jean-Louis; read more about it here. In his acceptance speech, Bomer paid tribute to all the people who have died of the HIV virus by saying:

To the generation we lost, and the people we continue to lose to this disease, I just want to say we love you, we remember you.

“LOVE AND MERCY” & “WAR AND PEACE” FOR PAUL DANO

Paul Dano prepares with Jean-Louis RodriguePaul Dano has become known for his uncanny ability to venture ever so deeply inside the skin of his characters. Part of his research and preparation is studying the Alexander Technique and working with Jean-Louis Rodrigue on embodying the character.

Last December, Paul prepared for his role as Pierre in the BBC adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” Three characters are at the center of the novel: Pierre, the bumbling, chaotic idealist, played by Paul; Prince Andrei, whose cool Darcy-like exterior conceals huge emotional conflict, played by James Norton; and Natasha Rostova, possibly the most appealing heroine in literature, played by Lily James.

Paul Dano in "Love & Mercy"Additionally, this summer we will see a lighter side to Paul’s acting when he plays a young Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys in the new film, “Love and Mercy.” (John Cusack plays the older Brian Wilson). Again, Paul prepared with Jean-Louis to find “the upward energy” of his character, which included exploring the creative space to discover the motivation of Wilson’s creative potential. Seared into memory as “Little Miss Sunshine’s” sullen, silent teen, “There will be Blood’s” fire-and-brimstone devil, and “12 Years a Slave’s” maniacal overseer, Paul has a role in this new movie that shows a softer, more vulnerable and buoyant side. “Love and Mercy’s” opening date is set for June 5, 2015.

ALICE BRAGA IS “QUEEN OF THE SOUTH”

Alice-Braga-2Congratulations to our student, Brazilian actress Alice Braga (Elysium, I Am Legend, City of Gods), who is currently filming a one-hour drama pilot, an adaptation of Arturo Perez-Reverte’s best-selling novel: La Reina Del Sur. Alice spent most of December preparing with Jean-Louis for the character of Teresa, a woman who is forced to learn the tools of the drug-trafficking trade and who also becomes one of the wealthiest, most powerful women in the world.city-of-god-poster

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.