In Memory of Marsha Paludan, 1941- 2018
Former ATI Board Member, post-modern dance pioneer and somatic educator Marsha Paludan died July 8, 2018, after a long period of ill health. Her indomitable spirit lives on in her students and colleagues in the fields of Alexander Technique, theater, and dance. In the early 1960s, as a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Illinois, Marsha co-created a new form of dance training called release technique. Early release work was a process of sensory and kinesthetic training and imaging exercises that, in Marsha’s words “freed the imagination in order to free the body.” Marsha later studied developmental movement with Barbara Clark, a student of Mabel Todd. That more defined release technique now informs dance and theater training throughout the US and Europe.
In the 1980s, while pursuing a Ph.D. in Theater at the University of Kansas, Marsha met Marjorie Barstow and knew immediately that the Alexander Technique was the missing piece to her vast body of work. Marsha apprenticed with Marj and eventually was asked by Marj to be a teaching assistant at the legendary Barstow summer workshop in Nebraska. These two powerful women bonded over a shared love of movement and the Great Plains of the US Midwest. Marsha often quoted Marj’s phrase, “You always move better with a smile.”
From 1991 until her death, Marsha lived in Greensboro, North Carolina where she was a Professor of Theater at the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG). She coordinated the movement curriculum for both the MFA and BFA acting programs from 1991-2008. Marsha joined ATI during the late 1990s and served on the Board of Directors for two terms. She attended numerous agms and was particularly fond of Ireland. In 2004 Marsha co-founded with Robin Gilmore an Alexander teacher training program in Greensboro. To date, 40 new AT teachers have graduated from that program. Marsha was awarded a Lifetime Membership by the ATI Board in 2008 after she had become incapacitated due to several strokes. For the remaining years of her life, Marsha was confined to a bed in a nursing home, but nothing could confine her light, love and humility. I know this because Marsha has been my mentor, performance partner, co-teacher, confidante and dearest friend since 1981. I wrote that last sentence in the present tense because Marsha is with me, and many others, always.
With love and appreciation,