Amanda Blair MacDonald, MFA, M.AmSAT, R-MPA
Alexander Technique Teacher
Movement Pattern Analyst
Developmental Movement Specialist
Amanda grew up loving music and dance. She was surrounded by music from a very young age, but did not begin to learn dance technique until college. Because of this late start, she questioned everything. “How do I improve my turnout? How do my muscles work? How do I get my body to do what others have been doing since they were young?” These questions grew into a lifelong exploration of movement. Amanda studied yoga, Pilates, floor barre and various styles of dance, and finally found The Alexander Technique. One of her early teachers helped her understand that The Alexander Technique teaches awareness about the underpinnings of all movement, and therefore allows for a deepening in all other practices. Amanda’s skills improved and her desire to share what she knew through teaching blossomed.
Amanda attended Alexander Technique teacher trainings at: Habit and Choice (Beret Arcaya), Balance Arts (Ann Rodiger) and The Dimon Institute (Ted Dimon and John Nicholls) and completed the 3-year, 1600 hour course in 2006. She attended a week-long teacher refresher course with Alex and Joan Murray in Urbana, IL in June 2012 and made regular visits to Alexander Technique Milwaukee during graduate school at UWM 2015-2016.
Service to AmSAT includes: the Planning Committee for AmSAT’s 2013 Annual Conference and General Meeting in Chicago; secretary of the Training Standards and Course Review Committee 2013-18, and co-chair of the Membership Committee. Amanda is also co-founder and treasurer of the Chicago Alexander Teachers.
Amanda completed her MFA in Dance at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in August 2017, including study with Graduate Director and fellow Alexander Technique teacher Luc Vanier. During graduate school she learned about an area of study in which we can observe people’s unconscious movement patterns and analyze them to understand their decision making processes. Amanda began to train during her final year at UWM, and in January 2019 became a Registered Movement Pattern Analyst.
Amanda’s Alexander Technique journey paralleled her journey as a performer and dance teacher. She incorporated her Alexander work into the movement for actors classes she taught at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC, where over the course of six years she developed curriculum that helped her students bridge demands in acting, voice and dance. She worked under the supervision of Harry Woolever at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC, learning to teach his foundations of theatre dance curriculum and Hanya Holm’s floor series. She also studied at the Dance Education Laboratory and the Kane School for Core Integration, both in NYC.
Upon moving to Chicago, Amanda began to work more and more with children. In her search to create meaningful and developmentally appropriate curriculum for them, she attended the Summer Dance Institute for Teachers at the Creative Dance Center in Seattle, WA, founded by Anne Green Gilbert. There she learned about BrainDance and Brain Compatible Dance Education. The scientific underpinnings of this work showed a link between her work with Alexander Technique, the Holm floor series, and her work with children. Amanda continues to study and read to strengthen her teaching in all of these areas.
Much of Amanda’s work looks like it is purely with various movement modalities. However, what she has learned is that movement is a window into our cognitive processes. How we think is reflected in how we move, and how we move is how we think. Alexander Technique teaches people to become aware of their habits of thinking and work to gain choice over these habits. Movement Pattern Analysis uses movement as a window into our cognitive decision making processes, such that we can leverage our strengths, find support for our weaknesses, and interact with others more effectively. Using these modalities, Amanda seeks to expand a worldview that values the whole self.