What is the Alba Method?

The Alba Method is a safe alternative to emotion memory and other psychological techniques for releasing, maintaining, and controlling emotional states in the rehearsal studio and on stage. This powerful technique is the result of more than 30 years of research by neuroscientist Susana Bloch with professional and student actors in Europe and South America. 

The Alba Method identifies six basic emotions: anger, joy, sadness, fear, tenderness, and erotic love. These are the "primary colors" of emotion; all other emotions are blends of these. Each of the basic emotions has its own unique, identifiable set of effector patterns; emotional neutrality is also precisely patterned in the body. By establishing three aspects of these patterns—breathing, facial expression, and posture—a performer can enter and leave an emotional state at will. 

Although originally designed for use by actors, it is becoming increasing clear that the benefits of the Alba Method extend well beyond the performing arts. Application to other fields such as psychology, healthcare and law is being explored in the United States, South America and Europe. Even beginning students of the Alba Method report an increased ability to accurately identify and label their emotional states in both their personal and professional relationships. Many have gone on to say that having this instantaneous physiological awareness of their emotional shifts has empowered them to make more conscious choices in dealing with potentially stressful or confrontational interactions. Practitioners trained in the Alba Method also demonstrate an increased ability to accurately perceive the emotional states of others, a skill commonly referred to as “emotional intelligence.”

Effector Pattern Training

  • Guides you in the investigation of your own emotional being. You will learn exactly how emotion works in and through your body.
  • Is accessible.Virtually anyone can learn it. 
  • Is never forced. Respect for physical and emotional well-being is intrinsic to the work.
  • Is student controlled. No physical or psychological manipulation by the instructor is involved in learning the technique.
  • Enables you to recognize the muscle tensions and breathing patterns of specific emotions, and to identify and gently penetrate habituated tensions and emotional blocks.
  • Ultimately frees you to create and express genuine emotion easily on command.
  • Develops your ability to accurately read the emotions of others.

The Alba Method arouses emotional response in the body through conscious application of effector patterns of breath and muscle tension organic to basic emotions. Though present in the body since infancy, these simple but precise patterns take some time to master: physical and emotional habits built up over years ingrain muscle tensions that can be challenging to penetrate. Most people experience significant release of habitual emotional tensions in the course of beginning training. 

A typical session involves extensive physical work alternated with discussion of theory and application, technical clarifications, and sharing of experiences. Effector patterns are introduced step-by-step in exercises of just a few minutes' duration; as skills develop, exercises explore use of patterns in interaction with others and in combination with movement and text. Learning rates vary according to emotional readiness and previously developed skills in physical awareness and control. A few participants will experience genuine emotion from a pattern within the first few hours of work; most will have these experiences by midway through the course. Control develops with command of technique; expertise develops over time, with practice, exploration, and application. Finding freedom in the structure and integration with personal acting methods follows. The goal of a beginning training is to develop sufficient understanding and technical command to begin self-use, including application to acting work.