Finding Our Voice
Updated: Apr 30, 2021
There's a saying I can't quite remember exactly, but it's about how our lives move in spirals and we'll eventually come around to the past with a whole new perspective.
During Lockdown 3.0 here in Toronto over the past month of April, I have found myself revisiting an element of theatre training which I genuinely enjoyed, and which challenged me immensely- the world of Sound and Voice.
It was in the Acting Program at Dalhousie University where I first encountered it, giving me permission to explore an element of myself which I had taken for granted and never gave much thought. We would spend hour upon glorious hour rolling about in the darkened studio all in our black tights, wailing, groaning, humming and sighing together. It was exactly what I needed, having struggled for the first few years in University trying to figure out what the hell I was doing there, who I was, and what exactly was this thing called "Life".
After graduating, I made my way to British Columbia to partake in The National Voice Intensive with David Smuckler and teachers. During this time I became more curious about the relationship I had with Movement, studying Authentic Movement and Sensory Awareness with the incomparable Judith Koltai. Over the years, this became my focus, leading me towards yoga and eventually where I am at this point, teaching movement to folks interested in understanding themselves in their bodies beyond how a six pack can enhance their lives.
As I begin to teach more students with Parkinson's (PD) I am recognizing the need to offer some voice work along with the movement I teach. In March I found a weekly voice class from Movement Research in NYC taught by a wonderful teacher, Peter Sciscioli. He helped me remember what it was about voice classes I found so exciting all those moons ago. The imagery we can bring into our movements while exploring our voice allows for us adults to PLAY and press pause on the serious button for awhile. Feeling water swirling about in our pelvic bowl as we move through the space, connecting to a low "OOO", I tell you, there's nothing quite like it!
Through an old theatre chum, Lisa Anne Ross, who now runs a theatre company, Solo Chicken in Fredericton N.B. I connected with Sayda Trujiilo, a voice teacher working with actors in California. Over the course of three glorious Monday evenings, we were able to connect on Zoom in her workshop "I HAVE A VOICE" . It felt here that I had come full circle, getting into working with text and movement, and offering the space and time to really feel my voice in my body- sensing my embodied voice, and what shifts when I can allow the voice and sound to reverberate throughout my body, to feel all of the textures, colours of my own voice, and the voice of others sharing the space.
Reconnecting to this vital relationship inspires me to bring elements of both Peter's and Sayda's classes into my own work with students who are noticing their voices beginning to soften with the effects of decreased muscle engagement in the vocal cords and expressive facial muscles which can occur with PD. It has also benefitted my own life, as I am teaching at the moment solely on Zoom which requires more vocal energy. As someone with typically quieter tones, finding my voice, making room for sound to travel without strain is key to sustaining my energy during the day.
I write this post today with gratitude to all of the brilliant teachers who share their love of voice with such creativity and generosity. If you are someone who is feeling stuck, feeling unheard and struggling to share your truth, I strongly encourage you to seek out a voice teacher you enjoy. I know of a few, so if you are looking for a recommendation, please don't hesitate to ask. The more voices of joy expressing themselves out in the world, the sounder the world we live will be!