The Teachers


Raïna von Waldenburg

Teacher, actor, director and writer, Raïna recently moved to Vancouver after having been full-time faculty at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she taught acting based on the work of Jerzy Grotowski at the Experimental Theatre Wing for 17 years. During the past seven years Raïna held sessional positions at Simon Fraser University, Art Institute of Vancouver, and University of the Fraser Valley. She mentors performing artists and teaches workshops in Grotowski, I AM ONE WHO, devsing, and Viewpoints. Raïna is currently a mentor for emerging dancers at the Scotia Dance Centre's Mentorship Program, and a facilitator for the 12 Minute Max 2019/2020 season. Raïna received her MFA in creative writing from Goddard College, and her BFA in acting from New York University where she trained under Stephen Wangh, and Ryszard Cieslak, Grotowski’s principal actor and protégée. Raïna served as research assistant and editor for Stephen Wangh’s book An Acrobat of the Heart: A physical approach to acting inspired by the work of Jerzy Grotowski. The recipient of the 2011 Distracted Globe grant, Raïna produced her one-woman show Oysters Orgasms Obituaries at La MaMa E.T.C. in NYC for which she received the 2012 New York Innovative Theatre Award nomination for “Outstanding Solo Performance” and the 2014 Persephone Award for "Innovative Teaching and Performance of Grotowski Work". In 2015 and 2106 Raïna performed her solo show My Friend Andrea at The Cultch Theatre in Vancouver. In 2017 she produced her original work 12 Minute Madness at the Vancouver Fringe Festival, which was subsequently selected and featured as a main stage production at the Vancouver rEvolver Festival in 2018.


Wendy vanden Heuvel

Wendy vanden Heuvel currently works as an actress, teacher, and producer in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. She taught acting for 8 years at New York University’s Experimental Theater Wing, Fordham University, and The Barrow Group in New York City. In 1991 she was a member of Jerzy Grotowski’s Objective Drama Project at Irvine University. Wendy has been acting for the past 27 years in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and regionally. Some acting credits include: Resurrection Blues by Arthur Miller (Guthrie Theater), Beckett Shorts directed by Joseph Chaikin, Mud (Magic Theater), A Movie Star has to Star in Black and White (Signature Theater), and Sex in a Coma directed by Lee Breuer. She has worked extensively with Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and Rising Phoenix Repertory, both as an actress and as a producer, and she has collaborated with the Lake Lucille Chekhov Project created by Brian Mertes and Melissa Kievmann. Wendy can be seen playing James Franco’s psychotic mother in Ian Olds and Paul Felton’s film, Burn Country, and she will also appear alongside Andrew Garfield this summer in the soon to be released, Under the Silver Lake, directed by David Robert Mitchell. Wendy, is the artistic director of piece by piece productions, and in 2012 she was awarded TBG’s Outstanding Contribution to the Theater Award.     

Guest & PAST teacherS


David MacMurray Smith

We are so honoured and excited to announce that David MacMurray Smith will be joining ALIVE BODY Performer Training Retreat on Bowen Island, BC.

David MacMurray Smith is an independent educator with over 40 years of professional experience in the areas of Theatre, Ballet, Opera, Mime, and Clown. He is a movement specialist and experienced counselor whose special interest is in exploring how memory moves and patterns itself through our bodies and how this affects our perceptions, behavior, and communication. He was drawn by his interest and experience to develop his own body-centered, humanist approach to personal and professional development through creative studies in the psychology of human performance; very often collectively focused through the convention of Clown.

David was Associate Director and Head Instructor at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre School, Founding Faculty and Movement Director for the Music Theatre Studio Ensemble and Movement Director for the summer Opera Programs at the Banff Centre for the Performing Arts, and Developer, Program Director, and Core Trainer for the two-year Ensemble Training Program of Full Circle: First Nations Performance. While performing with the Stratford Festival he received a Guthrie Award for his creation of an original production of Arnold Schoenberg’s, Pierrot Lunaire. He has directed, choreographed and/or created over 80 productions in Opera, Music Theatre, Dramatic Theatre, Movement Theatre, and Clown. Most recently his co-creation and direction of the two person Clown show, “James and Jamesy - In The Dark” has continued to win Fringe Festival awards across Canada and in the States and recently completed a successful Off Broadway run in NYC. 

He is currently on faculty in the Douglas College Theatre Program, is a Founding Faculty member of, and instructor in the two year Expressive Arts Therapy Training Program through Langara College Continuing Education, is RingMaster, Co-Creator, and Director with the award winning James and Jamsey, and runs his own courses through, Fantastic Space Enterprises, which he founded in 1995 to assist in expanding dimensions in self knowledge, creation, and communication.

Linda Putnam


Linda is the founder and artistic director of Evergreen Theater and School. She has been a performing member of many theater companies, including New World Theater, Reality Theater, Theater Workshop Boston, Appleseed Traveling Circus, New York Free Theater, and Gut Theater of Harlem. She has been invited to perform in various festivals, and has received several awards for acting. Linda has authored two ensemble plays and three solo pieces. Her teaching career spans more than forty-seven years during which time, in addition to directing a full-time acting school, she has taught residencies at Baltimore Theater Project, Skidmore College, Naropa Institute, Smith College, Simon Fraser University, The Canadian National Voice Intensive, Women In View (Vancouver and Boston), and Mascall Dance Society, among others. She has taught workshops for a long list of theater and dance companies, and has acted as a performance coach for numerous individuals and companies. She received an MFA in Theater from New York University in 1968. She studied with Peter Kass, Lloyd Richards, Andre Gregory, Jerzy Grotowski, and Kristin Linklater, among others. Her teaching is a blend of physical acting techniques and traditional acting methodology.


Leannie Aalgaard - Producer, Guest Teacher

On behalf of Blue Egg Entertainment Inc. I am honoured to be producing this retreat workshop and again be collaborating with Raïna and Wendy. When working with artists my interest is always the mind-body-spirit connection and freedom from thought domination. 

I am an entrepreneur, producer, coach and artist. I could say that my education and involvement in the physical and performing arts began when my life began; I am a fifth generation dancer and forever grateful to have been born into a family that espoused the value of the arts. Through my company, Blue Egg® and its training division, I have been designing and producing integrated training programs in collaboration with artists and teachers for seven years.

BLUE EGG® has provided training to hundreds of students. I am proud of the success of both our training and the students who have achieved successes that include: guest starring roles on television series, cast in touring productions of Broadway musicals, performed live on CiTR Radio, founded successful dance-based performance art touring company, award-winning Fringe Festival shows, launched careers as dancers, actors, singer-songwriters, and teachers. As well as acceptance into competitive university theatre arts programs at Columbia University, Capilano University and Toronto Film School.

Christina Hughes


The body is the vehicle, the container, the sensory and molecular memory of the unconscious internal self. When we move the body, we open the gateways to our own life force, to our hearts, to our psyche, to our most authentic selves where an infinite well of love abides, waiting, beckoning for our attention, for the blissful moment of recognition and resurrection into the ecstatic fullness of our being.      - Christina Hughes. 2018

Christina received her Master’s Degree in Applied Theatre in Education and the Community at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London University in 2018 where her studies culminated in a body of work, expanding her praxis in physical theatre into diverse communities at large. Her pedagogy deeply rooted in facilitating  pathways for personal and social development to nurture deeper and more inclusive understandings of ourselves, the ‘other’ and the ever expanding cultural diversity in our societies. The creative process offering opportunities for connection, bonding, intimacy and community through the mutuality of storytelling underpins how theatre offers a platform to foster inter-related avenues of personal and cultural understanding, learning and inclusive ideologies, contributing, I propose, on a larger scale, to a more harmonious and richer existence within oneself and in the world. My praxis aims to engage participants in multi-disciplinary, creative processes to forge learning pathways through understanding and compassion of themselves and others.

Christina received her BA in Theatre at The Experimental Theatre Wing, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University with a focus on Grotowksi’s Physical Theatre Training Methods and Devised Theatre practices in movement, voice and writing. 

Christina has worked extensively as a performer and director in the Theatre-Dance and multi-disciplinary theatre genres in New York and Los Angeles and now resides in Kent where she teaches movement and devised theatre to youth at the Trinity Theatre in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK. 

Whether devising new pieces or re-imagining existing work she is drawn to creating pieces which originate from the interests and concerns of her students and participants. Facilitating through an inclusive, participatory, and collaborative praxis is at the heart of her work; with an emphasis on interdisciplinary mediums to promote dynamic workshops where students/participants can learn from one another in a supportive, co-creative and encouraging forum. Recent projects include devising socio-political engaged work with the Wallis Youth Theatre Company at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles and an Intergenerational Community Theatre piece highlighting the African Diaspora for the Rapport Theatre Festival in Brixton, U.K. with Boal practitioner and activist , Tony Cealy.

Additionally, Christina is a certified Kundalini Yoga and Meditation Teacher, working as an International Retreat Project Manager and Lead Yoga Instructor for Aslan Institute/Sacred Service in Minnesota, USA as well as a Youth Theatre Instructor at Trinity Center for Theatre and the Arts.

Her passions in Yoga and Theatre are symbiotic and have nurtured each other throughout the years. She loves facilitating, directing , devising and exploring  the multi-faceted and infinitely layered story that is the human condition in diverse communities to create and elevate self-awareness, vitality, self-empowerment and wholeness.

Christina is Half Spanish from Alicante, Spain and Half American from Johnson City, Tennessee, USA.