This History of ATME
The Association of Theatre Movement Educators had its beginning in the 1960s in the University and College Theatre Association that was a sub-division of the American Theatre Association. The Voice and Movement Programs were combined into the Voice and Movement Focus Group, much like the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s Focus Groups today. Joint convention programming and pre-convention workshops emphasized the integration of movement and voice training.
Toward the end of the decade, movement and voice began to emerged as separate specialties. Positions for a specialists in just one each area became available. By 1969 there was sufficient recognition for movement training as an independent specialty to justify a separate focus group.
Lucille Rubin was the first chair of ATA’s Movement Program. She edited Movement for the Actor, the first collected writings on theatre movement training by American movement teachers. As movement became more widely recognized as a training specialty, we sought to define ourselves more clearly. In the last decade of ATA, there were numerous panels on the training of movement specialists and their function within actor-training programs. In 1986, with the demise of ATA and the launching of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), the self-definition of movement specialists took a new form. The leadership decided it was time to establish an independent organization for movement specialists that would still be related to ATHE, but would also exist independently to serve those movement specialists who were teaching and working professionally as well as in college or university contexts.
Lin Conaway convened a task force at Miami University to draw up a mission statement and goals for what became the Society of Theatre Movement Specialists (STMS). The task force, chaired by Lin, was comprised of Patrice Egleston, Max Dixon, Loyd Williamson, and Jennifer Martin.
The Society remained a focus group of ATHE until the Association of Theatre Movement Educators (ATME) was incorporated in 1993 as a non-profit organization through the efforts of the Founding Board of Directors: Denise Gabriel, Colleen Kelly, Paul Lundrigan, Jennifer Martin, and Ron Wilson. While ATME is an independent organization with its own officers and programs, the connection to the Association for Theatre in Higher Education is still maintained through the ATME Focus Group Representative.
ATME is now an independent organization with its own officers and programs. It maintains its affiliation with the Association for Theatre in Higher Education through the ATME Focus Group Representative and supports a connection to the SouthEastern Theatre Conference Theatre Movement Committee, the Society of American Fight Directors, the Laban/Bartenieff Institute, and other movement organizations.
The change in name from the Society of Theatre Movement Specialists to Association of Theatre Movement Educators was a reflection of the continuing process of defining ourselves movement training for theatre. within actor training. While the term “movement specialist” described a person with a high level of expertise in a physical discipline, such an individual may not have the acting process foundation nor the anatomical understanding necessary for movement training of actors. The Board regarded these two areas as fundamental preparation for theatre movement specialists who work with actors or teach in actor training programs.
For the past 25 years, a core of movement specialists have (has) accepted leadership roles and volunteered countless hours of service to their colleagues. The many services offered by ATME today are a testimony of their commitment to the support of their colleagues and to their own growth as teacher/artists.