"Betsy" Wetzig
The "Patterns"
Photo Galleries
Feedback Form



Betsy Wetzig Biography

For Elizabeth "Betsy" Wetzig, dance is a discipline of mind as well as body, a discipline that reveals information about self, communication, health and humanity. Betsy began her love of dance and movement at a very early age. The first time she stood up, she danced to the music on the radio. She begged for dance lessons at two and began those lessons when she was three. At the ripe old age of three and a half, she began to choreograph for the neighborhood children. Then at age six she began to study modern, ballet, improvisation and choreography with Estelle Dennis a former Dennis Shawn dancer. She joined the Estelle Dennis Dance Company, as their youngest member at age eleven. Her first piece of choreography, a solo, for the company was created when she was only sixteen By the time she graduated from Randolph Macon Women’s College in Virginia, (BA in dance in1966), she had trained and performed in a number of modern and ballet styles, improvisation and choreography. Thus it was natural that questions on style, communication and energy potential of movement began to take root in her mind.

The day after graduation she went to New York to study and perform professionally and landed literally, late for class at the feet of Martha Graham. From there she used her opportunities as a professional dancer to enhance her abilities as a choreographer, dancer, and improviser. By 1971, the basic question of the diversity and uniformity of the creative process had joined her artistic investigations as she was in the process of developing and directing the Wetzig Dance Company and Sound-Shapes, an improvisational group of dancers and musicians. In that summer of 1971 she went to the American Dance Festival in New London Connecticut as an instructor of improvisation with Art Bouman. There, one day at Dr. Sally Fitt’s faculty Anatomy and Kinesiology class, she learned of the neuromuscular tension patterns and their tension scale which have become the basis of her work. These patterns, discovered by Dr. Josephine Rathbone in the 1930's and validated with electrophysiological recordings by Dr. Rathbone with Dr. Valerie Hunt and Dr. Mary Weber in the 1960s, were immediately recognized by Betsy as the explanation of various dancers energy potentials and uses of style.

That very afternoon she began testing as many professional dancers of different styles as possible for their “home” or lowest tension neuromuscular pattern. It was a sunny, beautiful day, towards the end of the festival. The tested dancers were generally in a state of fulfillment and happiness. Suddenly Betsy realized there were four kinds, or mind/body states of joy. She recognized the pattern’s core nature in what we call self. She knew that these patterns would help her Sound-Shape group communicate better and help her understand each dancer’s and musician’s creative process. She began working with the patterns at her Sound-Shapes Company rehearsal that very night. 

Back in New York, characteristics for the brain processes of language and creativity became clearer and clearer as she worked in both choreography and improvisation with her companies. She was incredibly lucky to have talented, skillful, and intelligent artists to work with on a daily basis. Two of them, Peggy Hackney and Kedzie Penfield added an extra dimension because of their Laban Effort Shape and Notation expertise. Meanwhile, various other types of artists and people also wanted to be tested and learn about the patterns. So Betsy had the opportunity to not only test them and observe them creating and living, but to ask them a myriad of and sometimes what sounded like crazy, questions. Questions like, “How do you think?” or ‘When you are painting does it feel like one spot in your head gets hotter?” or “Do you feel the creative process moving around in your head and if so, what is the pattern?” Through this questioning and work with all types of artist, Betsy began to realize the movement and mind elements she was finding in the Patterns were the movement and mind elements of style.

The next big discovery was that their were centers of movement for each pattern and that exercises could be used to improve the use of each pattern, as well as access and use the centers. Exercises could be used to give the musicians and dancers a freer and eventually more skillful use of a variety of styles and even be applied to enrich studies of specific techniques. Secondly, each pattern and center had special jobs of coordination such as for balancing, jumping, falling, and extending, which could also be improved upon with specific exercises. Betsy began to apply these exercises to her own choreography and to help other dancers with their concert presentations. At the time she was also teaching dance at Uppsala College in East Orange, New Jersey and she began applying the patterns and exercises not only to dance, but also, (working with the coaches), to football and wrestling training.  (Continued)

Betsy Wetzig | Wetzig Bio Page 2 | Wetzig Bio Page 3

(Back to Top)


Betsy Wetzig