Sunday, July 25, 2010

Guest Instructor - Erin Ortman


We were so thrilled to have Erin Ortman return to Next Step Prep for a second year. Erin is a wonderful teacher, full of energy and a sheer joy for her profession. She teaches at NYU - Tisch School of the Arts and worked with the students on acting and movement using techniques developed by Michael Chekhov.

In this exercise, Erin is teaching the students how to work in pairs "moving energy" between them. At first, the students used typical "methods" of transferring energy, using their arms and legs to "throw" energy, but as the exercise progressed, they began using their heads, shoulders, hips and even backsides to send volleys of energy back and forth.

Here Cooper and Clayton take a turn. I love this picture of Cooper's hands...it reminds me of slow-motion footage...



While the other students watch, they are really supportive of each other's work. It is really nice to see the group interact when these bigger exercises are happening. Erin reminded the students that we are each others' best teachers. It also reminded me of something that Michael Murphy said last week...that we are learning as much when we are observing acting as when we are actually acting. This rang true in this exercise as well.


Nyna and Sarai take a shot at it...

Erin was great with giving immediate feedback and helping the actors make clear, deliberate choices, even when they were improvising...

Sarah P. and Sarah B. were up next...they added some vocal energy transfers as well..


Here's Skye with the windup...


Between every pair of students, Erin gave regular feedback and gave suggestions for improvement. She is great at encouraging students to put themselves out there and take chances, and really stressed that this needed to happen in a classroom setting because it would make them stronger performers.

Erin worked with Maddy and Michael. This generated a good class discussion on using breath as energy and regulating one's breathing in order to give a stronger performance. She helped the students understand what happens when they "dump their breath" before a scene begins, and how much stronger a scene becomes when this doesn't happen.


Erin worked with Nicky and Tessa next, encouraging them to use their movements to emphasize the words they were speaking...


While this is serious work, there were lots of opportunities for laughter, as was the case with Ana and Arielle...



The students take a little break during an exercise, but are still captivated when Erin is speaking. Erin is very approachable for the students, and while she acknowledged that they are high school students, her expectations were not any lower for them. She encouraged them to continue to self-reflect, personalize their experience, and challenge themselves in many ways.






Mikaila and Elinor work on a scene. Erin gives some feedback and challenges them to incorporate it into their work...

...and rejoices when they succeed...


Micaela gets some funny feedback as well...


After working in the theater, Erin sent the groups to work on their own. She then met with each group individually to work specifically on the issues they were encountering...


The group then re-grouped and gave performances for one another. Erin really encouraged the students to just be in the moment, perform, and then move on. She talked to the students about not hanging on to negative experiences that would keep them from moving forward in their acting, to learn from those experiences and incorporate them, but not to hang on to them, else they would block their creativity.








Dane jumped in to the discussion, helping the students link what they learned in Erin's class to what they have learned in other class sessions, and how they can take what they learned this week into their work in the following weeks.

Thank you, Erin, for sharing your time with us once again. You are truly a gifted teacher and we are lucky to have you present to our students again. We hope to see you again soon!

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