Anna Yen B&W 408KB 300DPIAnna Yen is fascinated with following “playful impulses”. This may sound simple, but for most grown-ups, following such an impulse can be both an enormous challenge and the key to creativity.

Anna is a physical theatre artist  and a Feldenkrais Method practitioner. Based in Brisbane, she runs workshops known as “PlayMoves”. Her work combines the Feldenkrais Method with theatre skills to invite creativity, enhance the presence and pleasure of the performer, and increase their movement options. In this way, she follows the lineage of the Europe-based teacher Monika Pagneux, who Anna visits regularly.

Anna and Monika’s practice can be summed up in the Charles Baudelaire quote: ‘Genius is no more than childhood recaptured at will.’

“If we have a free body and are aware of what we are doing, then we can be more playful, and follow our playful impulses,” Anna says.  For performers, this is “one of the great gifts of the Feldenkrais Method”.

“I am able to invite more awareness of what I’m doing, and apply less effort, so that I can follow playful, creative impulses and my whole self will follow the impulse,” Anna says. “Whereas if you’re really stiff in your head and your mind, you’re only running your old habits rather than being able to respond to that moment on stage, that moment in life, with many options and a quality that is pleasurable.”

Finding multiple options in any situation is something Anna has drawn from Feldenkrais Method, and it’s clear she applies this learning in her life. In 2013 alone, she has been teaching PlayMoves workshops, working as a trainer at Vulcana Women’s Circus, teaching the Feldenkrais Method to post-grad voice teachers at the Queensland Conservatorium, and developing a performance piece about her father for the 2014 Sydney Festival. Anna also has been playfully engaging with people living with dementia, as part of a clown team called The Lamingtons, in a research partnership (they just won the Queensland Arts and Health Creative Partnerships Award). She’s been in a performance trio called tunCloud,  she had a four-week residency in Charleville with Blue Roo, an inclusive theatre company.  And she does work in schools.

On top of all of that, Anna decided to take the opportunity when a four-year professional Feldenkrais training course returned to her home city of Brisbane in 2012. One big motivator for returning to the training is Anna’s intention to keep working in physical theatre well into her 50s and beyond, “Movements which have previously been too stressful on my body and others which I had to give up all together due to RSI are now easy to achieve.” She finds that through her new found ability to organise her body and mind she can sustain her activities. “Another reason why I’m back is I’m interested in helping other people I work with in the physical theatre performing arts world also be able to achieve their goals … and it’s partly for me. I’m there because I use the Feldenkrais Method to help me achieve my dreams – of being a great performer, a great director, a great movement teacher. And it’s not just so I can do the splits or do the back arch or whatever. Actually, one of the really big keys for me lately is the idea of decreasing effort to increase sensitivity. How does something move through me?”

Has creating this multitude of opportunities been difficult for Anna? “Actually, it’s been effortless. I’ve discovered the things that are the most pleasurable and with the greatest positive impact are the ones that are the most effortless. It’s amazing.”
Her teaching career has flourished since she added Feldenkrais into the repertoire of what and how she teaches. Her students are getting more out of her trainings and are encouraging others to do it as it’s totally different and offers more results than any other workshop on physical movement for performers. She is being offered work with institutions such as the Conservatory of Music and QUT due to her qualifications as a Feldenkrais practitioner.