AT Post Graduate Training Program
Beginning In April 2018
Alexander Alliance Post Graduate Training Program
One of the foremost representatives of Marjorie Barstow’s lineage, Bruce’s work is unique and innovative. Bruce is especially gifted when it comes to teaching in groups. He’s a philosopher, poet and writer who gives voice to what is wonderful about the Alexander Technique.
Michael Frederick – Founding Director of the International Congresses for the Alexander Technique
Gone is the straight-lined striving, the stopping and oughting. Instead curiosity, inquisitiveness, and permission to experiment, to play, to open boxes and to climb out of them into a world of possibility – a world both soft and strong. And all this through a quiet power, an exquisite touch, a clarity of speech, and a wealth of wisdom. For me, Bruce’s work is more than exciting; it is important, both to the world and to anyone involved in any way with Alexander’s Technique.
Annie Turner – Alexander Technique Teacher, England
About The Alexander Alliance Post Graduate Training – Zurich, Switzerland
Teachers well versed in Alexander’s procedures, who have a clear understanding of what Alexander’s work is about have recently sought me out and begun studying with me. Some of them have been teaching for many years. Many of them first encountered me through my writings, sensing I had something new to offer them, new insights, new skills that might enhance their work. These teachers are open to learning more, to learning new pedagogical skills, both tactual and linguistic, to learning new ways of better seeing and understanding the relationship between body and being, and between movement and meaning.
As an apprentice, and later assistant to Marjorie L. Barstow, with whom I trained for 16 years, and as a person with 55 years of experience as a movement educator and artist, I have learned how to teach Alexander’s work effectively in groups, how to teach others how to work effectively in groups, how to apply Alexander’s work to the physical demands of everyday life as well as to the emotionally trying situations all of us encounter along the way. Having also studied intensively with four other first generation teachers; Elisabeth Walker, Erika Whittaker, Catherine Wielopolska, and Richard M. Gummere, Jr., I have gained a deep respect for Alexander’s classical procedures as well.
In Europe, Asia, and America, Alexander teachers are asking me to teach them how I work. They seem especially intrigued with how I use my hands, while also expressing their appreciation for my simple way of articulating complex Alexandrian principles without need for jargon.
Our first Alexander Alliance Post Graduate Program exceeded all of our expectations, I think, because of the highly skilled, open minded and open hearted teachers who participated. The Post Graduate Program will be composed of four 7-day retreats, taking place over a two year period, a total of 196 hours. Retreats will be held in the Fall and the Spring. This Post Graduate Training Program is open to all certified teachers of the Alexander Technique.
Here’s the material we’ll be covering.
The Physics and Metaphysics of Touch
To receive everything one must open one’s hands, and give. –
Hands close and open, grasp, cling, clench, and release. Hands express. They welcome, warn and inform, and in our case, hands educe. Educative hands lead out that which lies within. Together we will increase our tactual palette, become more tactually literate, learn new ways of using our hands sensitively and effectively.
We understand well the paramount importance of personal use while teaching, and the direct impact our use has on our quality of touch. As important as good use is, my 55 years of experience using my hands to help people move well has taught me that additional knowledge into the hand’s inherent design can help us acquire hands that are, at once, soft and powerful, light and deep, stabilizing and mobilizing, quieting and energizing. As there are primary colors, so too there are primary touches: push, pull, slide, spin, and roll. In other words, physics.
We will also consider the metaphysics of touch. It’s a disservice to reduce a person to their body. I never touch a person’s body. I only touch a person. Our goal is to touch a person’s being through their body. But to touch a person’s being through their body we have first to be able to see a person’s being through their body, which means knowing how to see beyond posture, beyond body mechanics, beyond use.
How To Teach An Engaging Introductory Workshop
Osaka Hospital – Alexander workshop for physical therapists
I offer a template, a simple framework, evolved over 40 years of teaching AT, for clearly and effectively introducing Alexander’s work within a group setting. It’s easy to learn. It leaves you free to choose the content you wish to impart to others. Introducing the technique to a group of students can be intimidating for Alexander teachers. Knowing this simple structure makes it much easier.
I will be giving two one-day introductory workshops as part of each seven day retreat. Each of these one-day workshops will introduce Alexander’s work from a different point of view. These eight days of introductory workshops are part of the Post Graduate Training Program. It’s the best way to learn how I introduce the work to people. I encourage each graduate trainee to bring at least one person who really wants to take an introductory workshop in the Alexander Technique.
Systems Of Support
Alexander teachers excel in creating what I refer to as “tensegral support.” It’s the support system that creates the hallmark experience of kinesthetic lightness, the sense of suspension. But there are other essential systems of support, complimentary systems that most Alexander teachers do not excel at accessing, such as ground support, organ support, and spatial support. When these complimentary systems of support integrate with tensegral support the side effect of postural stiffness, so prevalent in our work, subsides.
Walking as an Alexandrian Procedure
It’s no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.
Francis of Assisi
Walking, when understood, is the Alexandrian procedure that most naturally integrates rotational and spiraling motions into our upright structure, motions that are conspicuously absent in Alexander’s other procedures, as wonderful as those procedures are. Walking, when taught dynamically, helps dissipate postural holdings, often resulting in a profound sense of freedom and power.
Once when I asked Erika Whittaker what she felt like after working with Alexander, she said, “When the lesson was over, I could have said thank you, and walked out the door, or I could have said thank you, and walked through the wall.”
We’ll spend time learning about the mechanics of walking, as well as how to use our hands to help our students walk naturally, freely, and powerfully.
Working in Activity
Ironically, working in activity is not about activity. As Alexander teachers we are more than movement efficiency and effectiveness experts. Alexander work is not about how we do what we do. Alexander’s work is about how we are being when we do what we do. As T.S. Eliot expresses so profoundly, our work is about… the still point of the turning world…
We bring people in touch with the still point. Activities are the turning world. We cannot work on the still point without the turning world. Working in activity is the most straightforward way to work on the integration of being and doing.
Have you noticed it’s relatively easy to make good use of Alexander’s work when we are doing well, but nearly impossible when confronted with something truly challenging or threatening? How can we practice sticking to principle under emotionally charged circumstances, when relating to family members, when encountering problems at work, while coping with physical injury and pain, when overwhelmed by stressful thoughts and emotions?
Working Situationally is a procedure I developed, slowly, over the past 40 years. That is to say Working Situationally is a “way of proceeding,” to teach people how to employ Alexander’s work when under trying conditions and faced with harsh realities.
Being able to work with people this way has been, personally, enormously beneficial. It has brought the work to life for me, and into my life for me in ways that before were inaccessible.
Understanding Human Directionality
Sending a message from the brain to a part of the body in a way that organizes and frees a person’s entire body and being is a key element in Alexander’s work. Messages can take many forms. Alexander chose to send his directives in the form of words, very effectively. But there are other forms through which we can communicate integrative directions, ways that are also freeing…and fun.
Contemplative Anatomy is my approach to Body Mapping as conceived by Bill Conable and taught through the Albinus Copperplate Engravings. An Alexandrian direction is like a key that can open a lock. But for the key to work it must fit the lock. We must first understand the pattern hidden within the lock itself. Mapping is about uncovering our false notions about the inner workings of these locks, and replacing these false notions with the truth of our design. The truth sets us free. Mapping is an invaluable tool for Alexander teachers.
Good technique doesn’t show. Paradoxically, in our pursuit of naturalness, artifice unwittingly appears. Stayed uprightness, a preoccupation with how we look, over monitoring of how we move, overly symmetrical posturing, and a loss of physical spontaneity are not uncommon to us. Occupational hazards sort to speak. For us humans, naturalness remains mysteriously elusive. How can we learn to recognize and undo our subtle post-Alexander habits?
The Grand Inhibition
Being obsessive about anything is binding. As Alexander teachers, we’re interested in freeing ourselves and helping free our students. So it is necessary and healthy for us to be free sometimes to let go of the Alexander Technique itself, to leave ourselves alone and let the work do itself. Freedom from the very notion of freedom. For most of us that’s hard, but it’s learnable.
About Bruce Fertman
In Bruce’s class you feel as if you are sitting by a deep, soft lake. His pace and patience, his quiet confidence allows people to unfold and open layer by layer. The superfluous falls away leaving only life’s inner vitality effortlessly expressing itself through you.
He is the embodiment of his work. His touch is like a butterfly settling down on the very turning point of your soul. And then you know, “That’s who I am, that is who I could be.”
Alexander Teacher / Tango Teacher/ Equestrian
For 55 years Bruce has been using his hands helping people to move well. For 30 years he has traveled annually throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States helping people understand and experience Alexander’s work.
Bruce trained with five first generation Alexander teachers: Catherine Merrick Wielopolska, Marjorie L. Barstow, Richard M. Gummere Jr., Elisabeth Walker, and Erika Whittaker. He brings a lifetime of training as a movement artist and educator to his work as an Alexander teacher having trained in Gymnastics, Modern Dance, Ballet, Contact Improvisation, Tai Chi Chu’an, Aikido, Chanoyu, Argentine Tango, and Kyudo.
In 1982, Bruce co-founded the Alexander Alliance International, an intergenerational, multicultural community/school, the first Alexander teacher training program inspired by the work of Marjorie Barstow. Currently, director of training and senior teacher for the Alexander Alliance in Germany, Bruce also teaches annually for Alexander Alliance training programs in Japan, Korea, and America. He directs the Alexander Alliance Post Graduate Programs in Dorset, England and Zurich, Switzerland.
He has worked with members of the Berlin Philharmonic, Radio France, The National Symphony in Washington DC, the Honolulu Symphony, for the Curtis Institute of Music, and most recently for Jeong Ga Ak Hoe, a traditional Korean Music Ensemble. Bruce taught for the Five College Dance Program in Amherst, Massachusetts for 13 years, and for the Tango community in Buenos Aires. For 6 years, he taught movement for actors at Temple and Rutgers University.
For ten years Bruce taught annually for the College of Physiotherapy in Gottingen, Germany.
Bruce’s heart centered approach as a teacher rests upon extensive study in psychology and theology, specifically, the work of Eric Berne, (Transactional Analysis), Carl Rogers, (Person Centered Therapy), Frederick Perls, (Gestalt Therapy), Albert Ellis, (Rational-Emotive Therapy), Carl Jung, (Analytical Psychology), and Byron Katie (Inquiry). Having also studied with Jewish, Christian, and Buddhist scholars, Bruce’s teaching shifts people’s sense of themselves both physically and spiritually.
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