Rowena Balos

World renowned Master Teacher and author of Voice and Speech
310.999.8405 | rowvoice@gmail.com

Testimonials

Why work with Rowena? Read about what her colleagues have to say or student feedback.


From her colleagues

"I have always sought out training with the very best teachers in the world. From my first class in the mid-80s with Rowena Balos, I knew I was in the presence of a master voice teacher. I always say Rowena was born to teach. She has an effortless, supportive and delightfully entertaining way of inspiring actors to find their most authentic, vibrant, powerful, nuanced, richly resonant and emotionally connected voice. She brings together a deep understanding of voice, the human being and acting, so that the voice and speech exercises she does in class are always connected to thought, feeling, imagination and the objective a character is trying to win in a scene. In this way, the actor develops not just a voice of increasing power, resonance, clarity, balance and range but one which is an authentic expression of that individual actor's humanity, passion and emotional colours. Not only a brilliant voice teacher, but a wonderful coach for learning a standard US accent, and bringing text to life whether Shakespeare, classical or modern, Rowena Balos is one of the world's masters and authorities in how to unleash an actor's potential through the power of breath and voice. I am honored to learn from her, to teach with her and to know the extraordinary human being and mentor she is."
Anthony Brandon Wong, Acting Teacher, Sydney, Australia


"Rowena Balos has worked as an International Master Teacher at the School of Drama, Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne over the past decade. In 1973, the Myer Foundation, a philanthropic arts organization, brought Rowena to Australia, with the sole purpose of introducing the Linklater Method to our theatre profession. The work she accomplished was seminal and it would be fair to say that a whole body of work has developed in this country as a result of her influence, in fact, an original actor training methodology with voice as its central focus. 

I have worked with the great voice teachers Cicely Berry, Patsy Rodenburg and Kristin Linklater, and without a doubt Rowena is their peer. She has developed her unique style and content and the impact she has had upon all she has taught is profound. In fact many people Rowena has trained now work as leaders in our profession.

She is a gifted and inspiring teacher with the ability to transform those who work with her. Rowena’s wealth of experience and original methods combined with her humour and perspicacity ensure a rich and vibrant experience for all participants. She is an incisive and perspicacious teacher with the gift of joy. She is able transform any group within minutes of her first contact."
Lindy Davies Associate Professor Lindy Davies
Former Head of the School of Drama
Victorian College of the Arts


"Rowena is undoubtedly one of the world’s best voice teachers. I can only commend her work as being very, very special."
Peter Oyston
Former artistic director
Monash University Academy of Performing Arts/ and former dean of drama, Victorian College of the Arts


"Rowena Balos is a dynamic and inspiring teacher of voice and dramatic text. Her method is pragmatic and eminently sensible. Every performer, novice and trouper alike, will benefit from her classes."
John Bell, Artistic Director, Bell Shakespeare Company, Sydney, Australia


"Thank you for your most inspirational and dynamic annual contribution to our voice and acting program. Each time your name or class has since been mentioned, the students glow! They were literally on the edge of their seats during the day, and their energy and focus was unflagging. I think your ability to keep the class moving forward, and to problem-solve on the floor, whatever the state of play, is marvelous. I think the students also have gained a greater respect for the work and their profession."
John Preston, Lecturer, Performing Arts: M.A Monash, Dip Nida-Acting, Grad Dip Ed Melb.


"The National Theatre Drama School is privileged that Rowena Balos has been able to work with its students during her regular visits to Australia. Rowena’s classes have never failed to stimulate, encourage and challenge our students for she offers young performers, at whatever level of their training, genuine insights not just into technical vocal issues but into the very nature of the craft and its sources in the heart, mind and soul. We warmly recommend her to any institution seriously engaged in the training of professional performers."
Ken Boucher, Director, National Theatre Drama School, Melbourne, Australia

Student Feedback

"Rowena taught us a range of other acting and vocal skills which have taken my acting to a whole new level. One of the biggest things was being able to get my work into my body (as our acting technique can get very heady) so now I can really commit to a scene and LET GO. Rowena has taught me how effortless acting really can be (after doing the work of course; and she even taught me how to do that in a fun, organic way), and how to explore words so nothing is ever taken for granted – which has not only helped me in my acting (with my anticipation problems, going for end result problems and finding a true understanding of texts), but has also allowed me to open up and really mean what I say in everyday life, communicating with a lot more confidence. I could probably write a whole book on everything that I learnt in just one week, but if you take a course with Rowena you will understand."
Nathan Wright


"After our brief but wonderful hour… I just wanted to thank you - and let you know that the first few moments of rehearsal with you have remained with me [and have] allowed me to experience a maturing of the emotional inner life and moments of effortlessness in my work that I haven't experienced, like this, before."
Glenda Linscott


"I enjoyed our time together even though brief. The mouthing without sound is miraculous and is also helping me to learn the endless lines. [My character] does not stop talking. Thank you for your help. I got a lot out of our brief encounter. With love and thanks."
Christina Pickles


"It’s relaxing, it’s fun, it’s supportive in terms of allowing one to have the freedom to perform…. with your teaching have found I have no vocal problems at all and my voice is getting stronger and stronger, so bravo."
Joanne Woodward


A sincere note of thanks for your magical teachings, which have dramatically enhanced my acting chops. The rainbow has been illuminated and its impact has reaped rewards in class, at showcases and at auditions. My words come from the heart! Since our paths have crossed, I've booked a commercial, did two stellar showcases and got picked up by a reputable theatrical agent. Am also getting great feedback from my auditions and acting classes. Every ounce of coaching has contributed immensely to my progress as an actor here in LA. Forever grateful,
Lawrence Chau


"I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity of working with you on integrating the spoken voice with text (Shakespeare). Your classes/workshops are always a joy and real eye-openers. My suggestion to any actor: 'If you ever get a chance to work with Rowena, GO FOR IT!'" 
Mark Wong


"I’ve been studying with Rowena for the last 8 years. She has helped me tremendously with my accent reduction and my acting skills. Her method is unique and organic. I have nailed audition after audition thanks to Rowena’s coaching."
Grace Fraga


"I really connected with your work. This work has shown me that I can immerse myself in my character’s world instead of trying to draw from my own. I can’t tell you how good that feels!"            
Dylan


"I left your workshop with a logarithmically scaled amount more of energy, enthusiasm and inspiration than I had when I arrived. I take away many things from you: I love “the mouthing” as a way to explore and discover a new character without knowing beforehand how they sound. Taking things “moment by moment”—I have been told this by acting teachers before but never really understood it until today. Physically changing direction and connecting that change to a new thought was meaningful. The idea of “letting the penny drop” before I say the line was meaningful. The pot of soup bubbling away within me - always there. Is such a great source of comfort. And I can add a little more to subtly adjust the flavour if need be. How cool is that! Interestingly enough, I don't feel like I have had any emphasis placed on my breathing at all - only that if I don’t do it I die. Allowing it to just happen stops me from trying to control it. I am breathing as I write. J There were ways in which you made me think and connect to myself that will make me a better mum and wife and friend."            
Katerina


"I would like to thank you for the way you encouraged me to believe in myself not only through the “my imaginary arms are up in the air” exercises but also with your comments and work when we delivered our monologues and the way you treated us from the moment you walked through those doors with your real arms up in the air. You allowed me to believe it is possible to have success as an actor, that I actually am talented and that an actor has so much potential to develop. You taught me to nurture myself rather than bash myself up. Another precious gift! Obviously I cannot complete this email without thanking you for the many tools you shared with us. You gave us so many exercises and ways into our work that will be used over and over again through our (hopefully many and productive) years as actors. Thank you for being so very generous with your knowledge and skills, it was such an honour to be your student."            
Lelda


"My concert, during the course of your classes, opened up a new me vocally.  My top notes soared and sounded better.  The warm-ups I did before the performance helped and my whole approach to my singing was freer. The aria ‘One fine Day’ from Madam Butterfly, a role that I have sung with moderate success, starts on a high G b and I used always to have trouble with tightening the throat muscles to squeeze out the sound and by the time I got to the final high Bb at the end I was squeaking them out.  But now—it is so easy for me to sing this aria.  This will open up new operatic roles for me.  Thank you!"            
Sally R., opera singer


"The most telling feature of the classes has been the way you have insisted that thoughts and feelings connect with everything and to allow them to breathe you and work you. It’s so obvious but so conditioned out of us. I thank you for making me aware of it—the first step towards change. I enjoyed the concept of revealing into the camera—a good pithy gem worth working on. I have found performing at the same time very exciting and using the warm-up and the new awareness to affect my performance. In making myself available, lots of things have happened—new sounds, a lot of new sounds, new thoughts, reactions and even physical responses to moments. I’m sure the classes have been responsible."            
Peter Cousens


"I find your method so accessible and so refreshing considering how many voice exercises tend to exist in a void, unrelated to any form of acting as we know it. You’ve really helped me to understand how simple effective voice work can be if you have a thought or intention behind it. There are many times when I’m rehearsing a scene and I remember that tension is not talent! As soon as I allow the breath to come freely, uninhibited by tension in the body, all the emotions are there, no pushing required. Most of the time, anyway. Again, thank you so much. Your enthusiasm and energy are truly inspiring."            
Tilly Legge


"One of the concepts that resonated most for me was the wonderful possibility of “clarity disassociated from tension.” To physically achieve that, in breath and thought, was the most specific understanding I had heard of the notion of really being in the moment, or the reality of what it is to “let go” of the work and to allow for an open channel."            
Sam Murray


"I’ve managed to incorporate a lot of the exercises you taught us into a pre-audition routine for myself and it seems to be working wonders. I’ve had some great auditions recently for both film and theatre, and I honestly believe it's because I feel well prepared but ready to let go of any mental preparation and be in the moment. I loved the way you pulled the focus from the voice and its flaws, to the words and the ideas behind each word. I loved “colouring” all the words with a history and making them necessary to say, not just because they are on the page but because the CHARACTER needs to say them. I feel like I’m starting to let go of a lot of tension, especially around my mouth and my diaphragm, which were my big problem areas. I also feel like my voice has a lot more resonance because of this and the more I work on it, the less I have to worry about it in auditions.  You have a great teaching method and I look forward to working with you again. Thank you so much for your wisdom and your humour."            
Geraldine Hakewill


"I come from a dancer background so a lot of the voice stuff is very new to me and I’m finding it so fascinating. I loved the positive energy you bought to the class and how you made me feel so important to be there. I have learnt skills now that I will carry for life, especially the floating arms. J I usually hold back as I’m a bit shy especially in singing, but just by having that in my mind over the last couple of weeks I’m starting to feel a lot more confident in myself, so thank you. I love practicing the mouthing exercise for both monologues and songs. It is great to sit in nuetral and mouth the monologue or song and then start to find characteristics of who that character might be and different ways of saying the lines, even just by adding the actions to it.
I find it gives life and I worry less about the breathing and more about just connecting and exploring the experience. The stepping from rock to rock down the river is another one of my favourites and also all the elements and colours of the body. All these elements are so simple and so much more interesting and creative way of learning my monologues and songs. I love the journey of exploring and learning new things.  Life is far too short to only stick with what you know! I can’t begin to tell you how much I learnt from you.            
Emma Vaiano


"Rowena Balos is an inspiration to start with. The clarity and charisma is enough to entice any actor to stop what they're doing and listen. The exercises reflected that to perfection. "I'm talented, I'm happy and I am attractive", the positive self-enforcing exercise was of great use to me personally and to this day I have my metaphorical hands still high and proud. The Importance she placed on "stewing" the emotion I felt really connected with me as I'm quite a visual learner so this helped understand the underlying emotion and the physical presence needed to portray accurate emotion and truth. The break down of our shakespeare monologue really clarified just how much emphasis on each word is needed to truthfully and distinctively be able to tell the story, with the exercise of going through word for word and painting colors and levels on each word to make the subtext more apparent and interesting. All in all it was a pleasure to work WITH Rowena, and I underline 'with' as that's exactly how the workshop felt. Thank you again Rowena.
Haydan Hawkins


"I just wanted to email and let you know what I thought of our two-day workshop class we did recently with you. I really enjoyed it and feel like I took a lot of useful exercises out of it. I found the mental images you gave us really helpful in finally putting two and two together and really understanding how my body works when acting. The chakras and the idea of the pot in our belly that cooks up the emotion and inevitably brings out the reaction as steam/scent all really registered with me.
I also really liked the exercise we did on the last day with stepping through each word of our monologues and elaborating on what those words meant. It helped me to really understand the monologue, and by the end of it I really felt those words were mine, not words that I had learnt.
Thanks so much!"
Mercurio


"Your way of explaining things really clarified many techniques I had previously struggled with and your inspiring method of teaching helped me to appreciate the relationship between the text, my body and my voice. The two days you spent with us were of immeasurable value to me and I have taken many things away from your workshops which I am applying in other acting classes and using to further my abilities.            
Jess Phillippi


"I found the Balos Technique to be a total and compact method, covering all the aspects one needs to think about when working on a character and text … in a creatively organized way. All the aspects I’d studied elsewhere in more fragmented and separate acting methods were there, but covered and captured in an uncomplicated wholeness, with seeming simplicity.

In preparation for the workshops I made actor’s homework notes, but there was so much more discovered through the Balos Technique. I feel those discoveries were organically experienced and more alive and integrated in thought, breath and body (voice) than any thoughtful written preparation could give…. No separation from the preparation, but a kind of “'all in one.” At the time I glibly termed it a “one stop shop” technique, probably because I found it quite astonishing how much could come together in a relatively short period. Before coming to your workshop I was feeling a little apprehensive, because it had been a long time since I had been in any acting classes, and was thinking perhaps I wouldn't be up to it. I think the Colour of Sound technique, through its methodical layering approach, enables one to access the creative psyche, but with a focus of mind that brings a sense of ordered structure and  clarity to it,  and opens the way to discovery. I left the workshop enlivened creatively and believing in my potential/talent as an actor.

******
In the Shakespeare workshop I found the exercise of physicalizing words/phrases in the text particularly helpful.  Probably because I could hear myself sounding like someone trying to sound like what they thought a Shakespearan actor should sound like … and I was stuck in the dullness of that. But the creatively free movements I found to express words and their meaning, seemed to come through later in performance … stored in memory of imagination and remaining  behind the words, even though thoughts and focus were not actively trying to recall them. Quite mysterious really—how they were able to add their trace of movement behind phrases and words that had sounded dull and predictable to me before….
It helped enormously to focus on aligning the pelvis first.

Anna Nolan
 


"I did what I’m sure many people do—I was trying to get a good sound. I became the great observer of myself and over the years I have really lost touch with what I’m saying and have focused on how I’m saying it … all BAD! I really get it now, for the first time. I need to connect before I speak.  Speaking is about having something to say not producing a sound. I do feel it is a breakthrough and I am thrilled. Now if I can just keep my lips loose, my soft palate open and my tongue relaxed I can find out how I feel about things.
             
*I frequently use my forehead, hands, and neck in my efforts to communicate meaning, but it's amazing to see that when the thought is really coming from a specific image and need to speak, I naturally don't do those habits and ticks.

*I've been trying to remind myself of the image of the book on my head, and my head coming to meet the book. I've not only noticed how frequently I am in a tensed/slumped position throughout the day, but when I give myself the directions of my head towards the book, it becomes so much easier to breathe, and speaking becomes more effortless. It reminded me of what you said about tension and a closed throat — how you're literally diminishing the size of the path that your talent needs to get through. Therefore, when my neck is free and open (not tensed) it makes sense that it feels easier to speak and easier for my thoughts and ideas to be released.

*Your approach to having a thought behind the physical exercises you do (so that you're not just doing things muscularly) is brilliant!  I've never approached an exercise this way and it completely makes sense.  When I just lift my soft palate as part of an exercise, I'm in a way just putting tension into another movement; but when I think of something surprising and let the exercise of lifting my soft palate come out of that thought/idea, it's so much easier and automatically (for me) releases tensions.  It's how one should work on any piece of material so why wouldn't you work this way when doing exercises — totally makes sense.
Jessica