Al began dancing with Alwin Nikolais in New York City at the age of 19. The curriculum contained dance technique, choreography, pedagogy and improvisation. During his time there he performed in two Nikolais productions and taught the professional level classes at his school from 1967 -1970.
In 1970 Al moved to San Francisco and began to develop his own style of teaching dance technique through improvisation as well as improvisation as a performing art. He asked two very talented students of his, Terry Sendgraff and Ruth Zaporah, if they would join him as partners in a dance studio. Together they formed the Berkeley Dance Theatre & Gymnasium where their explorations found them adding the spoken word and aerial dance to physical based improvisation. Terry and Ruth went on to become national and international icons, Terry as one of the original aerial dancers www.terrysendgraff.com and Ruth who developed Action Theater www.actiontheater.com.
Al concentrated his energies on teaching, performing very little while evolving a style of teaching that one of his Melbourne students called 'teacherless teaching'.
In 1982 Al moved to Melbourne, Australia where he has continued developing his methodology of teaching improvisation as a performing art under the name of Theatre of the Ordinary. During the past twenty-six years Al has been blessed with some outstanding students who after studying with him, have continued to further develop the art of improvised performance. Performing groups Born in a Taxi (David Wells, Nick Papas, Penny Baron, Carolyn Hanna), Five Square Meters (Clare Bartholowmew, Andrew Gray, Michael Hurwood), Trotman and Morrish (Peter Trotman, Andrew Morrish) met as individuals in Al's classes where they honed their skills and formed their partnerships. Al inspires more than instructs, offering guidelines that help students explore fundamental aspects of dance and theatre performance. Through a device he calls Perceptive Feedback, students develop their self-teacher and inner-director taking responsibility.
Performing artist and teachers who have been influenced by Al's work:
Ruth Zaporah - based in Sante Fe, USA, teaches Action Theater in several countries around the world.
Terry Sendgraff - based in Oakland, USA, now retired but still choreographing aerial performance pieces for other companies.
Janis Claxton - dancer/choreographer based in Edinburgh, Scotland performing and teaching in Europe, Great Britain and Australia.
John Briton and Hillary Elliot - based in Huddersfield, England. John is head of the drama department at Huddersfield University, both perform and teach in Great Britain, Australia and Europe.
Andrew Morrish - based in Paris, France, teaches and performs improvisation in Europe, Great Britain and Australia.
Wilhemeena Gordon - based in Aukland, New Zealand. Director of SOUL centre of the body & mind.
In February 2006 Al published 'The Wonder of Improvisation' - a book that explains his philosophy and methodology.