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Why Actors Need To Study Anatomy

marta reiman anatomy teacherIn my experience as a professional dancer and actor I always felt I needed to know more about the human anatomy and how my body works.  Long runs of shows, ill fitted footwear, raked stages, shooting scenes in the rain or extreme cold, combined with the repetitive athletic physical demands of various roles often lead to injuries and illness. Nearly every production I’ve worked on, someone has gone down with some type of injury and in some shows it’s been nearly half of the cast. Finally, I decided it was time to add to my skill set, so I went to school to become a New York State Licensed Massage Therapist.  In my training I learned in depth about the human anatomy and various self-care techniques, which now serve me greatly in my career as a performer. Happily, I am now also an anatomy teacher for actors, because I believe the information I’ve obtained will greatly add to an actors’ craft.

anatomy class for actors at Maggie Flanigan Studio

Before learning in depth about the human anatomy and its very specific needs, I would allow the long hours of a very demanding profession to wear me down. I know many actors who have experienced sprained ankles, pinched nerves, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety and other various health related issues that derailed very promising careers. Actors deal not only with the demands of the work but also with the requirements of getting the job in the first place. Long hours at a computer, doing temp work, or late night hours in bars or restaurants can be hard on backs, feet, hands and the heart. It’s easy to feel aimless and that more time is being spent making ends meet than on being the creative and artistic person we set out to be.

We think our bodies should be able to do everything we ask of them and the good news is usually they can, but only if we know how to take care of it properly and train ourselves as athletes would. By learning how our bodies are intricately designed we are more capable of working smarter, not harder. Knowing your physical limitations, understanding how your instrument works and why, is the key to sustaining vivid organic behavior. For any serious actor, learning all you can about anatomy, fitness, and various self-care techniques along with professional actor training, will serve you in all aspects of your life. It also puts more tools in your bag so you can be the best and most authentic actor possible.

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