Gwen Ellison has been in full-time private practice as an Alexander Technique teacher for the past twenty-three years, specializing in work with actors and singers. Through the Alexander principles Ellison helps the students develop his or her own kinesthetic awareness and become conscious of particular habits of misuse which interfere with balances functioning. Ellison was originally drawn to the work because of the need to understand the functioning of the breath in relationship to sound. The emphasis in her work, therefore, is on the breath.
In addition to Ellison’s private practice she has assisted in the rehearsal process of various Broadway and off-Broadway shows including the Broadway cast of Indiscretions, directed by Sean Mathias and The Pearl Theater Company.
In recent years Ellison has been on the faculty of The Chautauqua Theater Company; The National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center; NYU Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Acting Program; SUNY Purchase, Undergraduate Acting at the Conservatory of Theater Arts and Film and has been a guest teacher at the School of Improvisational Music. She is currently on the faculty of the Graduate Vocal Arts Program at Bard and the Yale School of Drama. She has most recently has the pleasure of working with the instrumentalists at the Academy Program of Carnegie Hall.
Ellison began her career after graduating in acting from the High School of Performing Arts. She performed in various off- and off-off Broadway shows, extra and featured work in films and television and studied full-time programs for acting, movement and voice. These included the Meisner Technique, The Actor’s Movement Studio, and a voice/speech and Shakespeare program with Robert Neff Williams. She also attended seminars in Shakespeare, Moliere and Restoration.
Because of breathing and vocal difficulties due to asthma since early childhood, Ellison searched for ways to better understand the breathing apparatus. She pursued studies in the Alexander Technique and trained and certified as a teacher at the Institute of the Alexander Technique in 1987 and in 1997 she began a close working relationship with Carl Stough. Carl’s forty years of work originating with successful results with Emphysema patients, led him to his “Breathing Coordination”. Working with Carol until his death, Ellison took her understanding of the body’s dynamic functioning to a much deeper level and now communicates via the principles of Breathing Coordination and the Alexander Technique to allow the body to breath in the way that it was designed. She currently studies and works (at Yale) with Jessica Wolf, a senior Alexander teacher who continues to integrate the two approaches.
Ellison continued to work on her own speaking/singing voice training with teachers like Patsy Rodenberg, Beverly Wideman, Deb Lapidus, Margot Moser, and Marianne Challis. She brings her past and present experiences as actor/singer to her Alexander work in assisting other performers in a way that enhances their technique. Ellison has combined her knowledge of Alexander’s primary control organization and breathing coordination within the activity of the singing lesson with significant and beneficial changes in the student’s performance. She worked closely with Sung Eun Lee in his preparations for the Metropolitan Opera Grand Finals auditions which he won in 2009.
Over the last twenty years Ellison has pursued separate studies in Anatomy with Irene Dowd, Reiki, Chi-gong with Luke Chan, Taoist Tai Chi, was certified as a Doula (and does labor support when her schedule permits) and Practitioner and instructor of Breema Bodywork at the Breema Center Oakland, California. Most recently she has been exploring the Gyrotonics method of movement with Maria Holm, deepening her own understanding of how coordinated internal movement supports free sound.