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Out On A Limb

01elis copy 2

Photo by: Anchan of Elisabeth Walker

I’m going to go out on a limb here.

Because I love Alexander’s work so much, and because over and over again I have seen people’s inner beauty unveiled through this work of ours, it has saddened me for forty years now to see so few images of Alexander’s work that are strikingly beautiful. When the work is working within someone I see a person who is peaceful and powerful, still and moving, relaxed and ready, light and substantial. But click here at Google Alexander Technique Images and see what you see.

I see that the Alexander Technique is something medical, like chiropractic treatments. Next I pick up something about posture and body mechanics and exercise. Then I see photos of some old, dressed up guy with a smirk on his face. And yes, something about getting up from a chair the right way. That’s about it.

It’s easy to be critical, and it’s another thing entirely to take on the problem and offer something better. That’s what I’ve done my best to do. Whether I have succeeded in the eyes of our profession at large, I don’t know. It’s hard to know how others see. When I look at the photos below I see a dynamic relationship between student and teacher. Everyone is awake and energized. They are not void of emotion. No one looks stiff or unnaturally symmetrical. I see beauty that is not cosmetic. I see beauty that lies within the person and emanates from the person. I see this both in the student and in the teacher. This as one of the hallmarks of our work.

“Moses laying his hands on Joshua may be compared to one candle lighting another, no light is lost to the former.” -Rabbinic Midrash on Numbers 27:18.

Can you see it? The teacher is lit, and the student is lit. They are at once one flame and two flames. This is partner work at its best, be it Alexander work, or Aikido, or Contact, or Tango.

What do you see in these photos? Do they strike you as photos that give you a glimpse into Alexander’s work? It’s pretty much impossible to get photos like these of yourself teaching unless you are skilled at teaching the work in groups and in teaching the work through myriad activities. All the teachers in these photographs either were or are capable of imparting the work in these ways. It’s important to note that Elisabeth Walker and Marjorie Barstow, both first generation teachers excelled in these ways of teaching – both great group teachers, both great at working in activities. Of course one of my obligations as the director of the Alexander Alliance International, and as a ‘young elder’ member of our Alexander community at large, is to insure that these skills are not lost. We all have our jobs to do. This happens to be one of mine.

Perhaps the images that appear when we Google Alexander Technique are exactly the ones the Alexander community at large wants, images that convey a technique that is medical, corrective oriented, definitely about the body, about posture and body mechanics, and apparently a form of exercise, in which case my photos are way off base.

What do you see? What do you want? Tell me. I’d like to know.

lucia-anne copy

Photo by: Anchan of Lucia Walker and Anne Johnson

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Photo of Robyn Avalon

01 Hands - 13 copy

Photo by: Anchan of Midori Shinkai

Marjorie Barstow

Photo by: Fran EAengel of M. Barstow and B. Fertman

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Photo by: Anchan of Akemi Kinomura

Photo by: Anchan of B. Fertman

Photo by: Anchan of B. Fertman

Photo by: Yoshiko Hayashi of Anchan

Photo by: Yoshiko Hayashi of Anchan

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Good one – you were just beginning to use a “sword” there in that photo I took of you, weren’t you?

    April 4, 2020
  2. Sarah Compton #

    Wonderful images. If there could be a fly on the wall with a camera, in the lessons we give, I’m sure there would be thousands of wonderful images. However, getting a photo when you’re on your own with someone is all but impossible! And in groups, I don’t really like people pointing a camera at me… DIfficult, but I agree about the generally stiff/ medical quality of images. Are these beautiful images that you have shared freely accessible by Googling?

    August 25, 2015
    • Thanks Sarah. My experience is that if one has become truly comfortable teaching in groups, and if there is enough people in the group, and if the photographer knows how to be a photographer who can disappear at will, and who also has a profound knowledge of AT, and who loves people, and who is actually a good photographer, then you can get images like this. But, as a profession, if we don’t succeed at doing this then we will continue to present the work as we have been, which for me is just not good enough. So that is why i have made the effort to capture moments that are dynamic and beautiful. But i can do this because my work, after all these years, is dynamic and beautiful. If one’s work isn’t then there is no way one can get these images. As for using my photos, yes, you could pirate them, but I would much prefer you ask me if you wish to use them, and first show me in what context you with to use them. and thanks for asking me. I appreciate that. All the best to you and I am so glad you enjoy the photos. Bruce

      August 25, 2015
  3. I love the picture of Lucia Walker and Anne Johnson running. It captures the playful, childlike quality that is so often missing in the images that are usually used to illustrate the AT.

    August 22, 2015
    • Yes, Lucia Walker taught for the Alexander Alliance along with Elisabeth once or twice a year for about eight years. She’s a great teacher. I think she learned a lot from us about teaching in activity as we learned a lot from her. Anne graduated our school long ago and teaches in Philadelphia. Also a very fine teacher. yeah, what to do about AT images. To me they are pretty sad looking.

      August 22, 2015
  4. Ruth. glad you liked them. Yes, they are beautiful and that’s the point I’m trying to make. i suggest looking at my videos. quite of few of them are collections of photos.

    August 22, 2015
  5. More of these please!

    August 22, 2015
  6. Absolutely beautiful, the images you have chosen…

    August 22, 2015

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