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Redirecting Unnecessary Tension Into Useful Energy – An Introduction to the Alexander Technique with Robyn Avalon and Bruce Fertman – July 28th, 2018 – Iowa City, Iowa.

archer close up

Photo: B. Fertman

What is the Alexander Technique?

Whether we are dancing, hammering a nail, working at a computer, singing an aria, or walking to the store we possess an inherent capacity to move naturally. Moving naturally promotes ease, flexibility, power and expressiveness.

Unwittingly, we often interfere with our anatomical design. Energy, poise, and ease give way to effort, tension and fatigue.

The Alexander Technique gives us a working knowledge of the principles governing human coordination. The Alexander Technique teaches us how to be, at once, relaxed and ready, soft and strong, light and substantial, firm and flexible. Through study, we become capable of redirecting excessive effort into useful energy.  Becoming more effortlessly upright, we also find ourselves coming down to the ground, to a place where we can function simply, comfortably and appreciatively.

For Whom is this Workshop?

This workshop is for two groups of people. One, for people wanting to be introduced to the Alexander Technique, and two, for people who directly use their hands in their work to help people: physical and occupational therapists, bodyworkers, movement teachers, nurses and hospice workers. F.M. Alexander evolved a way of using his hands that effortlessly and powerfully brought people into contact with their innate coordination and support. Upon first experiencing such a touch it seems magical but in fact, it is not. It is technical and learnable.

It is not everyday that two internationally renowned Alexander teachers give a workshop in Iowa City. Please consider joining us and taking advantage of this opportunity.

Anita Mischuk – Alexander Technique Teacher, Iowa City.

About Bruce Fertman

Photo by: Anchan of B. Fertman

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, Japanese Tea Ceremony, Argentine Tango, and Kyudo.

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 in Seoul, Korea. 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.

In 1982, Bruce co-founded the Alexander Alliance with Martha Hansen Fertman, an intergenerational, multicultural community/school, the first Alexander teacher training program inspired primarily by the work of Marjorie Barstow. Currently, director of education and senior teacher for the Alexander Alliance  Germany, Bruce also teaches annually for Alexander Alliance training programs in Japan, Korea, England, Switzerland, Austria, and America.

Bruce has been using his hands to help people for 55 years.

About Robyn Avalon

Lyra Butler-Denman and Robyn Avalon

Robyn has been studying Alexander’s work for over 40 years, being first introduced to it as a young performing artist. She has worked with members of renowned opera companies, symphony orchestras, music ensembles, music conservatories, dance companies, and circuses including the American Ballet Theater, NYC Ballet, Joffery Ballet, Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, Alvin Ailey, Merce Cunningham, Maria Benitez, Meredith Monk, Orpheus, the Juilliard School, the Meadowmount School of Music, Cirque de Soleil, and Ringling Bros/Barnum & Bailey. Robyn has also taught for the US Olympic Dressage Team, the Ladies Professional Golf Association, and the Texas “Aggies” Football Team. She offers continuing education workshops at National Conventions for Osteopathic Physicians, Dentistry, Fiber Arts, National Opera Association, NATS, Suzuki, and Centered Riding.

Robyn is a professional director, choreographer, and dancer. She was a founding member of two rhythm tap companies, and has done international and national tours, Off-Broadway, film and television. Her work has been seen in venues as diverse as NYC’s Blue Note Jazz Club, Carnegie Hall, and The White House.

In addition to her love for the performing arts, Robyn enjoys the healing arts, and is a certified practitioner of Cranial Sacral, Visceral Unwinding, Deep Imagery®, and Matrix Energetics®.

Robyn is the founding director of the Contemporary Alexander School, and co-director of the Alexander Alliance International and is on the core faculty of all Alexander Alliance Schools.

Workshop Details:

When: July 28th, 2018 from 10am until 6pm.

Where: East-Westschool of Integrative Healing Arts, 2711 Muscatine Ave., Iowa City, IA

Cost: $150, early registration by June 1st. After June 1st, $200. Full-time students – $150.

How to Register: People can register with me, Anita Mischuk: anita@atmw.us, phone: 319-535-0510.

 

 

 

Not Yours. Not Mine.

Not in a place, not in a space,
Not a person, not a thing,
Not a ping or a pong,
Not the soundless sounding of a gong.
Not a word, surely not absurd.

Don’t look.
You’ll not come across it in a book.

Don’t seek,
And you will find,
It is not yours, not mine.

It has no foes, woes, or toes.
There – off it goes!

It hates to sit.
Does not come in a kit.
Some think it illegit.
About to quit?

It’s a zone…where you are not alone.
It’s a ball…floating through us all.
It’s a climate…of refinement.
It’s a breeze…full of ease.

It’s changeable as the weather.
Totally untethered, soft as a feather,
Like a field of heather.

Nowhere does it dwell.
It’s like a well, but without the well.
Well, well, well…impossible to tell.

It is…it is…it is.

A Workshop For Alexander Teachers and Trainees – From Here To Really Here – November 11, 2017 – Zurich, Switzerland

Inhibition and Direction go together like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, like Abbott and Costello, like Batman and Robin, like Tonto and the Lone Ranger.

Like Yin and Yang. Actually a lot like yin and yang. First there is nothing and then there is something. First there was evening and then morning. Inhibition and Direction.

On November 11th we will spend a whole day together playing with a number of directional systems, all variations on a theme, that theme being Alexander’s classical directions.

According to F.M., as we all know, direction is…the process involved in projecting messages from the brain to the mechanisms and in conducting the energy necessary to the use of those mechanism.

My imagistic mind sees a bottle floating up on the shore and in the bottle hides a message. Imagine the message as a map, directions, or instructions giving us a hint as to how to get from here to really here. The message may be communicated via words, but may be communicated non-verbally as well, geometrically or graphically. The message, in whatever form, excites us, energizes us and off we go in some direction toward our destination, from here to really here.

Join me for a day of improvising with helical, spherical, anatomical, verbal, imagistic, and spatial expressions of Alexander’s classical directions.

Bruce Fertman

About Bruce Fertman

Bruce Fertman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

M. Tueshaus, Alexander Teacher / Tango Teacher/ Equestrian

Bruce has been using his hands, helping people to move well, for fifty-five years. He trained with five first generation Alexander teachers: Catherine Merrick Wielopolska, Marjorie L. Barstow, Richard M. Gummere Jr., Elisabeth Walker, and Erika Whittaker. Bruce 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. Currently director of the Alexander Alliance Germany, Bruce also teaches annually for Alexander Alliance training programs in Japan, Korea, and America. He conducts post graduate training programs in Dorset and Zurich. Currently, Bruce is near completion of Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart – Delving Into The Work Of F.M. Alexander, which will soon be published by Mouritz press.

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.

A. Turner – Alexander Technique Teacher
Cornwall, England

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

For information and to register contact

Magdalena Gassner

at

alexander.technik@gmx.ch 

A Place Where Any Alexander Teacher Can…

 

Photo: B. Fertman – Wheeler Peak, NM.

A place where any alexander teacher can post an announcement or flyer promoting themselves as an AT teacher, their work, their website, their blog, their studio, upcoming classes, workshops, retreats, or trainings.

That’s the first goal.

Here is why it’s important that we have a place for this.

Most of us want to succeed at what we want to do, which is teaching AT. The only way to get really good at something is to practice it a lot. So, if we want to become good at teaching AT, we have to have students with whom to practice. Without students we can’t practice, and without practice we can’t get good, and if we are not good…well, you see where I am going. Without students, becoming the AT teacher we always wanted to be never gets off the ground.

Okay. We need to get students with whom we can practice. How do we do that? How can this group be of help to us, that is, how can we be of help to one another? That is really the question at hand.

Here’s how.

One. A person places an announcement or flyer onto the site.

Two. We read it.

Three. We decide, for whatever reasons, that we would like to support this person in their effort, or not.

Four. If we want to help this person, we share her/his announcement on our timeline and write some words of support. Perhaps we send it directly to a few people whom we think may be especially interested in this person and what they have to offer.

By doing so we may have just helped a fellow Alexander teacher, whose work we value, get a student, which means getting a chance to practice, which means getting closer to becoming the AT teacher they always wanted to be.

Now For The Second Goal

If we would like to help this person further, we can decide to give this aspiring AT teacher some constructive feedback. Tell them what we liked about their presentation of themselves and their work. We can tell them what didn’t work for us and why. Perhaps we can offer one or two suggestions, keeping in our hearts that the goal is to foster growth and success in each and every AT teacher.

Goal Three

To receive everything, one must open one’s hands and give.  – Taisen Deshimaru

Why not collectively gather actual material that we are comfortable giving away, material any AT teacher could use to help them get students?

For example, someone’s written a definition of the technique they really like and think may be helpful to other teachers. Why not let others use it?  Or someone finds an incredible photo of a beautiful athlete or artist. Or an essay that someone’s just written that is geared toward musicians or psychologists or runners. Or a testimonial from some famous person. Or a quote from a poet, philosopher, or theologian that speaks to Alexander principles like inhibition, or end-gaining, or unlearning, or non-doing, or sensory appreciation. Or some new software or program that might help us reach more people.

Practical, usable material. Free for the taking, always with one eye on the prize, and that is….getting more students, so that we can practice, so that we can get good at what we want to get good at, so that we can become the AT teacher we always wanted to be.

My First Official Offering

Writing a sound definition of the Alexander Technique has been, for me, like Jacob wrestling with the Angel. A holy ordeal. Every year I would go back to the drawing board, some years tweaking this word or that word, other years throwing everything out and starting from scratch.

Here are two attempts I found dating back over 30 years. Yep, I’ve been at this for a while.

I offer these up to our Alexander Community At Large with a deep sense of fellowship. Use them. Don’t use them. Change them, improve on them. Share your definitions with us.

Attempt One

MOVING NATURALLY – COMING TO OUR SENSES – PERCEIVING CHOICE

We are designed for movement. Whether we are dancing, hammering a nail, riding a horse, working at a computer, or singing an aria, we possess an inherent capacity to move naturally. Naturalness encourages ease, flexibility, power, and expressiveness. Unwittingly, we often interfere with our natural design. Energy, delight, and grace give way to effort, tension, and fatigue.

The Alexander Technique offers us a working knowledge of the underlying principles governing human coordination. Through study we learn how to redirect excessive tension into useful energy. We learn how to be at once relaxed and ready, soft and strong, light and substantial, firm and flexible, awake to ourselves and to the world around us.

Attempt Two

THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE 

A STUDY IN THE RESTORATION OF

EASE

…to relieve, lighten, set free

FLEXIBILITY

…freedom from stiffness and rigidity

…pliancy of mind and disposition

TONE

…the degree of firmness proper to the tissues of the body

in a strong and healthy condition

PROPORTION

…such relation between the parts of a thing

as renders the whole harmonious

RESPIRATION

…the opportunity for breathing again

SENSIBILITY

…quickness and acuteness of apprehension and feeling

FREEDOM

…the capacity for motion

…boldness and vigor of conception and execution

 

 

 

On A Good Day

Joanna-Macy-300x3001.jpg

Joanna Macy, a Buddhist scholar and deep ecologist, and I were teaching at Omega Institute on the same week. Unbeknownst to me she peeked into one of my classes.

Just before the end of our time there Joanna came up to me and told me she had watched one of my classes. She said, “I watched how, under your hands, one person after another stood up like a standing wave. If I were to give you your Native American name, I’d call you Standing Wave,” she said, her lucid, loving light blue eyes, shining like sunlight upon the ocean.

She went on her way. I never saw her again.

These images by Ray Collins are how people feel under my hands, that is, on a good day. On a good day there is nothing I have to do. The ocean within people does it for me, and for them.

What we speak of as ‘direction’ in the Alexander Technique, I now experience in myself and others, not as geometric in nature, but rather as hydrodynamic.

Feast on these moving images.

The Infinite Now – The Cinemagraphs of Ray Collins from Ray Collins on Vimeo.

A Birthday Present To Myself

36 color copy

Photo: B. Fertman

Though not completely finished, I decided to get my reconstructed blog back up and running. My apologies for anyone who tried to enter and couldn’t get in. I have yet to organize my videos within logical categories and to fill in my new Alexander Alliance calendar.

If you’d like to give me a birthday present, take a moment to look at my new structure for the Alexander Alliance International and tell me if you like it better. Does it allow you better to find what interests you. Let me know about the look of it. Which photos work for you? Which ones don’t. Weird captions sometimes appear, and I still have to change most of them. I think it is really cool how you can click on one photo in the mosaic of photos and enjoy each full size photo, one at a time. And there is an amazing random feature I am using. Every time you refresh the page the mosaic is on, the photos rearrange themselves, often much more artistically than I can do manually. And of course sometimes not. If you have any suggestions for how I might improve the blog, let me know that too. I am also wondering what would be best to post on my revolving images at the top of the blog. Suggestions welcomed.

Living our work is privilege and a delight. Documenting it and making it available has always also been enjoyable for me. Finding the words and metaphors that ring true and deep. Capturing the moments when both teacher and student are unveiled and their natural beauty visible for all to see.

Thank you for all the kind birthday wishes.

Yours,

Bruce

Archives

 

There’s a good bit of writing I’ve shared here with my readers over the last few years, some of it dating back 30 years, some of it written last week. The best way to read my writings is to look to the right of the page and click on Categories.

A long list will appear. Simply click on something that interests you: anatomy, beauty, touch, breathing, walking, teaching, aging, the alexander technique, etc.

Or type in a word like inhibition or direction, or a person like Marjorie Barstow or Erika Whittaker and see what comes up. If you’d like to stay abreast of my current writings, choose to follow my blog. That’s what 2400 people are doing, which never ceases to amaze me.

Just click on Sign Up. It’s really easy.