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Making the Dancer’s Body Exercise DVD
Marnie Alton not only teaches exercise. She teaches her students to be joyful, to remember that life is magnificent, and to believe wholeheartedly in their own strength and beauty, both outer and inner. This might sound like hyperbole, but it is exactly how she teaches. I can confidently say that — until Marnie moved to England this summer “ she was one of the most popular and charismatic teachers not only within the Bar Method but just about anywhere.
Marnie radiates a joyful, no-holds-barred approach to life in her teaching and in everything she does. As an actress, singer, dancer and songwriter, she has lived her dreams. She has acted in around 30 TV shows and movies, played continuing characters in several TV series, and starred in one of them — detective Karen Yamamoto in Hot Hot Los Angeles. She has danced professionally, written, published and performed her own songs, and she is happily married to an executive in the entertainment industry. I was thrilled when she accepted my invitation to lead one of the advanced DVD workouts we taped in last month.
When I designed the two new advanced DVD routines, I intended to create killer workouts that resembled Bar Method level 2 studio classes and that were also safe for home users. Leave it to Marnie to out-do my wildest expectations. Since the routine I led, Super-Sculpting, featured body-sculpting moves you can do with a ball, the more flowing, dance-like Bar Method variations such as arabesque and second position fell to Marnie. I actually hadnt noticed how beautiful and athletic her routine was when I first designed it, but Marnie did. By the time I named it Dancers Body, she had already seized on the concept and made it the theme of her workout.
Marnie’s team of performers were perfectly cast for an advanced workout with “dance” in the title. All of them have long, lean, graceful bodies and are exceptionally focused, accomplished individuals. Katelin Chesna, shown next to Marnie, is a professional actress, acting coach, comedienne and master Bar Method teacher. Marin Van Vleck, to the left of Katelin, in addition to being an actress and singer, is the owner of a new, soon-to-be-built Bar Method studio in Dallas. Michael Lowery is an absolutely gorgeous, dynamic and sweet master Bar Method teacher who has just transferred to Bar Method New York/Soho so that he can attend graduate school at NYU, and Denise Burchard, shown below, is the talented, brainy and beautiful founding owner of the Portland Bar Method studio.
The shoot schedule slotted Marnies workout as third in line to be taped. When her team was on stage and ready to go, I sat behind the row of production TV screens with the crew thinking, just wait til you see this! and I wasnt disappointed. From the first words Marnie spoke, it was obvious that she was completely comfortable in front of a camera. She connected to her virtual students casually and cheerfully with a twinkle in her eye. I was particularly amazed that she was able to simultaneously do the workout and continually reel off gracefully phrased pointers on inner resolve such as, Our muscles are like clay. Theyll sculpt into any shape you choose. Choose long.
What most blew our minds was that the workout was so HARD. The production crew had already watched two pretty tough routines, but you could have picked everyones jaw up off the floor by Marnies second set of thigh-work. Then I remembered, OMG, the last thigh set is the hardest in this workout!, and the performers launched into the last amazing moments of the toughest thigh-work routine ever put on tape, all the time with Marnie never breaking her relentlessly joyful connection with the camera.
Adding to the overall dramatic effect were the flexible, balletic grace of the performers, their sweat-soaked, shiny, cut muscles, and their brute determination to hang in there.
I just had to get into this mental zone, Marin told me. It was like a ˜do-or-die mindset.
Denise had a similar experience, The pressure of two back-to-back, challenging classes with a group of exceptional talent really made me push myself that much further. I surprised myself. My body could do more than my mind thought it could.
Marnies Dancers Body DVD is just what Bar Method students have been lobbying for: a superlatively challenging workout that will continue to inspire them for years to come.
Thank you Marnie!
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