Dear Blog Followers,
Bear with me as I improve my blog for you.
If you’d like to contact me for any reason you can do so at email@example.com or via facebook.
Should resurface soon,
Dear Blog Followers,
Bear with me as I improve my blog for you.
If you’d like to contact me for any reason you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org or via facebook.
Should resurface soon,
This makes me nervous, but I now send you my finished manuscript.
It is complete. Nothing missing. Nothing extra.
This is what I think the book does.
Part One communicates to people, no matter their level, from beginners to teachers, what AT is about in ways contemporary, understandable, relevant, and meaningful. Broadly and specifically. In Part One a lot of time is spent on primary movement/pattern/control, on inhibition and direction, on freedom and choice, though often not in that language. Now, with the two pieces added this month to Part One, it also speaks at length about sensory appreciation, and it includes some thoughts on breathing that relay Alexander’s unique orientation toward the subject. Part One now makes sense to me. A person should finish reading Part One and should be clear as to what AT is about. If the reader is an AT teacher he or she should come away with a lot of new and useful language, metaphors, images, and ideas and perhaps with more courage and desire to teach the work in groups.
Part Two then gives the reader an animated, heartfelt idea of what it looks like and feels like when I work with people on all the material introduced in Part One. The reader gets to see, and almost experience, what happens when a person sticks to principle. “Stick to principle and it will all open up like a great cauliflower,” as A.R. so aptly put it. Part One is about the principles. Part Two is about the cauliflower! Yes, plain, healthy, natural beauty.
The book as a whole also introduces me to the readers, not just my ideas, but who I am as a person and as an Alexander teacher, the two inseparably intertwined. In this way it is very much autobiographical, spanning a 55 year career. It is my hope the book may be, in part, inspirational to some younger AT teachers.
It is satisfying to have completed it. It’s a bit like finishing a long, good novel, having read the last page and closed the book. There’s a gentle sadness and a deep joy. Yes I did it. I finished it. I like it. Now it’s forward into a free future with open arms and an open heart.
Jean, thank you for your continual support. The ball is now in your court. Obviously, it takes a village to write a book, and you are the Mayor!
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 July 2nd, at the beautiful CTC space, 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.
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
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
The Walter Carrington Educational Trust
13, The Boulevard
London SW6 2UB
020 7727 7222
We are only three minutes walk from Imperial Wharf Station.
Imperial Wharf Station provides a direct link to Clapham Junction (4 minutes) in the South and Willesden Junction in the North. Change at West Brompton (5 minutes) for the District Line or at Shepherds Bush (9 minutes) for the Central Line.
Sunday, July 2nd: From Here To Really Here – One Day Workshop
10:00 – 1:30 morning class.
1:30 – 2:45 lunch break
2:45 – 5:30 afternoon class
£120. £100 early registration.
£75 for those of you who took my workshop in April, if you bring another teacher or trainee who would like to take the workshop.
£50 for all Alexander teachers enrolled in the Alexander Alliance Post Graduate Training Program in Dorset.
Early registration ends June 3, 2017.
Monday, July 3rd: Private Lessons.
Fee: £60 for a 45 minute lesson. If you or anyone you know is interested write to me, or have them write to me at: email@example.com
Phone: +44 (0) 7590 406267
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If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to write to me, firstname.lastname@example.org or to Ruth Davis, email@example.com.
I look forward to meeting you and to working with you.
“Writers may not be special, sensitive or talented in any usual sense. They are simply engaged in sustained use of a language skill we all have. Their ‘creations’ come about through confident reliance on stray impulses that will, with trust, find occasional patterns that are satisfying.”
William Stafford, Writing the Australian Crawl note1
For several years now, and in ways that continually change, I’ve been using the principles of the Alexander Technique to teach writing at Cornell University, in classes for students at all levels, and in a tutorial course I designed for writers who are contending with special difficulties, such as ‘writing blocks.’
These changes in my teaching began shortly after my wife, Marty Hjortshoj, began her training at the Alexander Foundation of Philadelphia, in 1987, and invited Bruce Fertman to give a weekend workshop in Ithaca, New York, where we live. I attended this workshop, and immediately noticed the powerful somatic changes that new students often experience. When I entered the classroom the following week, however, I felt that the principles of the Technique were still experimenting with me, and with my students as well. I was moving differently, of course, but I was also teaching differently in a deep sense that included uses of language: more slowly and calmly, with more clarity, less effort, and heightened awareness of myself and my students in that place. The students in this small, advanced writing seminar immediately responded to me and to one another in ways that were at once more lively and more relaxed.
Because I liked these changes, I tried to hold on to them, and found that the worst classes I taught often followed the best ones. The students immediately sensed some new, hidden expectation they didn’t understand, and waited for me to tell them what it was. Gradually realising that effective teaching is not a position one assumes, but a kind of movement, I continued to experiment that semester and in following years. Sometimes I noticed, for example, that all of us had become habitually frontal, as though the classroom began at the ends of our noses. Words then spilled out on to the empty expanse of the seminar table and lay there, like unclaimed property. If I got up and moved around, breaking the circle, a subtle tension would often break as well, and we could talk more easily with one another. When our presence in the classroom became more lively and open, student writing became more lively and open too: more directly and fully voiced. I still can’t explain how these connections between language and movement work, and I can’t really control them. I simply know that they are always working, for better or worse, with unfathomable complexity.
Awareness of these connections was a revelation to me, because an unwritten canon of the university suggests that we should attend to language and thought in our work and pay attention to the body elsewhere–at the health club, perhaps–or ignore it altogether until it cries out in pain. As a consequence, there are whole realms of information we routinely disregard–information not only about the use of our bodies, but also about the interactive qualities of our presence, our effects upon others, and their effects upon us. Through unconscious uses of voice and bearing, teachers can easily cause students to use language with caution and formality. Be careful! Don’t make a false move! Because we learn fear too well, these messages tend to undermine the flexibility and responsiveness that young writers retain from childhood. By the time they graduate from college, therefore, most students have learned to write in voices so habitually disguised and constrained that their own parents wouldn’t recognise them. Dissolving these layers of interference with the use of voice has become my primary goal as a teacher.
What I am rediscovering in my teaching is a kind of deep knowledge we have all possessed throughout our lives. All Alexander teachers know how freely small children use their bodies and acquire new movement skills, in response to kinaesthetic information they just absorb from their environment, like little sponges. All linguists know that small children absorb and use language like oxygen, as naturally and freely as they breathe. But we tend to forget that these extraordinary abilities develop simultaneously–in whole, integrated fields of perception and response.
When Hannah, the two-year-old who lives next door, entered our kitchen last summer on her daily visits to stalk our cat, she used to make two statements: “I want to find Babycakes. She’s my friend.” One day, then, I noticed that Hannah had begun to use subordinate clauses in complex sentences, to express causal relationships. “I want to find Babycakes,” Hannah announced, “because she’s my friend.” Knowing that Babycakes would be wasting the day in one of the second floor bedrooms, Hannah ran straight to the stairs, lengthened to grasp the railing above, and told me at each step , “I hold the rail, so I won’t fall.” Because Hannah told me what she was doing and why, I noticed that she no longer bent over and crawled onto each step with her hands on the next one.
“Oh, she’s been doing that for a month,” Marty observed, because she notices what people do with their bodies without having to be told. What Marty noticed and what I noticed, however, made little difference to Hannah, who was putting language and movement together in her own brilliantly co-ordinated fashion, in the whole of her experience, without needing any help from grammarians and Alexander teachers.
Language teachers typically believe they are working with language and thought. Alexander teachers typically believe they are working with movement and thought. But all of us are actually doing more, even if we remain oblivious to the full dimensions of our work. Like Hannah, we are using our voices and our bodies in whole fields of perception, in intricate ways that include, reach, and affect others.
When I pay attention, my students constantly teach me this lesson: that I am not just working with the written texts they produce, with the ‘skills’ they use to produce those texts, or with the structure of written English. Instead, I am always working with what Noam Chomsky called our “underlying competence”: an innately human ability to use the “hidden organising principles” of linguistic co-ordination to communicate with others. note2 If this ability represents a kind of ‘skill,’ the poet William Stafford observed, “…it is the skill we all have, something we must have learned before the age of three or four.” In writing, we can remind ourselves of our underlying competence by using the freewriting exercises that Peter Elbow–who studied the Alexander technique with Frank Pierce Jones–first described in his book Writing Without Teachers. note3
All of us can write freely, spontaneously, and continuously, if we simply stop ourselves from stopping. When we write without stopping ourselves, we are using what Elbow has called our ‘freewriting muscle’–an ability to co-ordinate language, thought, and physical movement without interference. Like the ‘primary control,’ this ‘muscle’ is what always allows writing to happen, if it happens at all, even if we habitually use this ability with self-consciousness, hesitation, confusion, or fear.
The students who have taught me the most about the connections between language and movement are the ones who experience the most interference with their ability, to the point that they feel incapable of doing what they are fully able to do. When these writers do not believe in their underlying competence, or do not trust it, the deliberate effort to orchestrate the structures of language interferes with the co-ordinated use of language, just as the deliberate, self- conscious effort to move correctly interferes with co-ordinated movement. In the embodied moment of its occurrence, writing, like walking, is a kind of falling into empty space, with faith that our ability to use language will be there to support us.
Movement into that void–across what William Stafford called “…that precious little area of confusion when I do not know what I am going to say and then I find out what I am going to say” note4–will occur only when we release ourselves into motion, not when we prepare to do so. When writers have lost faith in their own competence, therefore, they feel paralysed and disembodied in their efforts to write, and they often tell me that they have lost their ‘voices.’ If I pay attention, I can usually see the somatic effects of this effort and loss. And when these writers rediscover their voices, they find them not just on the page but also in their bodies, in the world.
With obvious discomfort, a student named Joanna was describing the agonising process of constructing academic essays for her classes when I asked her who was orchestrating this construction and when she felt that she was writing in a voice of her own. In response to this question about her voice, Joanna looked at me directly and began to cry, silently, with a sense of loss so deep and open that I was also overwhelmed. Then she said, very quietly, “I don’t think I have a voice of my own.”
After this first meeting, at the end of spring term, Joanna left my office with hope that she could resolve her difficulties with writing in the fall. But some kind of release had already occurred, and during the following summer Joanna began to solve the problem on her own–not through writing, but through dance. Joanna had been studying modern dance for several years, but she had always thought of dance movement as a set of ‘skills’ she had learned, and of dance performance as choreography: ‘written’ compositions that dancers execute with the skills they have been taught. These perceptions of dance corresponded with her ideas about writing ability: that we learn writing skills primarily in school, and then use these skills to produce compositions that conform to preconceived designs and expectations. Through the equivalent of ‘freewriting’ exercises in a dance workshop, Joanna realised that the acquisition of ‘skill’ depends upon the use of abilities we already possess. When she returned in the fall, she had already recovered her writing voice to the extent that she could describe what she had discovered:
Besides technique courses I enrolled in improvisation. The teacher led us through weeks of very specific exercises that worked with qualities, rhythms, interactions. Born out of the class was a new personal vocabulary of movement. But most remarkable was my ability to improvise to music with clarity of intent. Clarity of movement occurred when I ‘conversed’ with music not allowing time to choreograph. I achieved a continuity between my environment/audience (classmates sat and watched one another) and my self when I forgot effort and reflected the music. In light of this experience, of clearing a lot of inner space in order to dance better, I am very optimistic that having found my dancing voice I can go about exploring language as an unselfconscious way to express myself.
Joanna and I had both discovered that somatic changes can directly affect uses of language, but the opposite is also true. Linguistic co-ordination can release people into free movement. By the time Andrea, a PhD. student, came to see me about her difficulties with writing, her dissertation topic had become a conceptual labyrinth she inhabited alone and could not describe to anyone, even in a one-page statement she was supposed to submit to her thesis adviser weeks before. When she entered my office, Andrea was pale and tense, and when I asked her direct questions about her research she looked startled, cleared her throat repeatedly, and spoke in meandering, halting sentences she never completed. While she was struggling with these sentences she looked away from me and seemed to drift off into inaccessible corridors of thought.
When our second meeting continued in the same bewildering fashion, I asked Andrea just to tell me, in one complete sentence, what her dissertation was about. She froze for a moment, with a look of panic, and then slowly said, “Well. . .what I’m really trying to get across is that. . .well, I think…”
I interrupted her then and said, “No. Just finish the sentence. You said, ‘What I’m really trying to get across is that…’ Just start over, patiently, until you complete the statement.”
On the third or fourth try, Andrea did complete a statement I could understand–a powerful argument she had apparently known all along, but would not allow herself to state. More powerful, however, were the accompanying changes in Andrea. When she had completed this sentence, I noticed a great release through her whole body. She sighed, laughed, relaxed in the chair, and then became flushed and animated: full of moving blood and energy. She was also fully there with me in the room for the first time, looked at me directly, and was able to talk about her work without hesitation.
This was the beginning of an extraordinary process of recovery that continued over the following months, with effects in every aspect of Andrea’s life. I immediately asked her to write that sentence down, and over the next weekend she expanded it to a couple of pages. After her thesis adviser read her proposal, he began to give her the active support she needed from him. Because Andrea recognised that the release she had experienced was at once linguistic and somatic, she began to study the Alexander Technique with Marty while she was working with me.
Within a few weeks Andrea was writing her dissertation, two professional articles, and postdoctoral fellowship applications with a kind of ease and speed so unfamiliar that she found it almost alarming. One afternoon, when she tossed the latest chapter of her dissertation on my desk, with playful disregard, Andrea said, “I’ve decided that anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” It was the kind of unpredictable statement that Alexander himself might have made to his students, to undermine the association of effort with value.
In speech, while he was teaching, Alexander freely used these interactive, intersubjective connections between language and movement. Alexander did not teach in silence, entirely with his hands. He talked constantly to his students, using the creative power of language to stimulate responses and reconstruct perceptions. Examples of Alexander’s instructions to his students demonstrate that he continually used language to dismantle misconceptions, alter perceptions, and direct movement. When the conventional meanings of words represented false categories and stimulated habitual responses, Alexander constructed un-conventional, often paradoxical statements that gave these words new meanings. Here are a few examples:
The things that don’t exist are the most difficult to get rid of.
The experience you want is in the process of getting it. If you have some thing, give it up. Getting it, not having it, is what you want.
The right thing to do would be the last thing we should do, left to ourselves, because it would be the last thing we should think it would be the right thing to do.
You all want to know if you’re right.
When you get farther on you will be right, but you won’t know it & won’t want to know if you are right. note5
Even in print these statements convey Alexander’s playful, thoughtful, unfettered use of his voice, embodied in the moment, in co-ordination with movement and in direct interaction with his students. These inventive uses of language are possible because the meanings of words are not intrinsically fixed; they become fixed, instead, within conventional patterns of usage, just as the functions of muscles become fixed in habitual patterns of movement. Language therefore moves in two senses of the term: it moves within and through syntactic structures, and it moves others to respond, within or beyond their habitual patterns of response. When Alexander’s use of language was freely co-ordinated with kinaesthetic perception and interaction, he also moved and moved his students beyond the confines of their time and culture. Because Alexander was using language to convey acute perceptions in the moment, his statements to his students do not seem dated or culture-bound. They sound as Eastern as Western, and more Post-Modern than Edwardian.
This lively quality of voice is easiest to maintain in conversation, when the language we use is fully embodied, and when it reaches the listener directly, even visibly. As Alexander realised, this sense of ease is harder to maintain in public speaking, when we feel we are performing for a potentially critical audience that does not immediately respond. In writing, a lively, embodied voice is still harder to maintain because written communication occurs across time and space, through the medium of a disembodied text. When we are writing, the reader is not there; when we read, the writer is not there. Unless we feel very close to the imaginary reader, therefore, it is extremely difficult to avoid ‘end-gaining’ in the act of writing: the effort to anticipate and control the outcome of this act.
Interference with writing ability results from that effort, which affects not only the writer, in the moment, but also the qualities of voice conveyed in the writing: the sounds and meanings of the language itself. Even across decades and continents we can hear those qualities, like the resonance of tones struck in one bell ringing in another, because we humans are linguistically tuned to similar frequencies. With linguistic information, as with kinaesthetic information, we can perceive effort, tension, and distortion as well as ease, strength, and grace. That is why so many of the words we use to describe qualities of language–fluent, poised, graceful, or awkward, stiff, ungainly–also describe qualities of movement.
When I read Alexander’s writing, I notice a lot of stiffness and posturing for the imagined audience–a kind of effort very similar, I suspect, to the posturing that once interfered with his speaking voice in performance . If I had learned of Alexander’s work only through his books, I wouldn’t have found much of relevance to my own work, because in his writing Alexander tended to ignore the roles of language, both in his teaching practice and in his conception of the self. When Alexander refers to the use of the self, he rarely includes the use of language as a medium of communication.
One reason, I suspect, is that Alexander distrusted language. In The Use of the Self, Alexander noted that “…knowledge concerned with sensory experience cannot be conveyed by the written or spoken word, so that it means to the recipient what it means to the person who is trying to convey it.” note6 In relation to sensory perception, he observed, language is often not only impoverished but misleading. The conventional, socially constructed meanings of words such as ‘head’ and ‘neck’ represented the misconception s Alexander had to overcome when he revised his map of the body. He was less inclined, however, to notice the positive ways in which he used language to bring this revision about.
In books such as Man’s Supreme Inheritance, Alexander was also trying to establish the validity of his ideas among prominent philosophers and scientists in his generation. In his effort to join the ranks of Tyler, Frazer, and Thomas Huxley, he clothed his discoveries in the ponderous formalities and sweeping generalisations of 19th century rationalists, evolutionists, and racists. In the language of positive science, Alexander describes the student as an individual “psycho-physical organism” or “human machine” that is not working properly, due to incorrect perceptions and habits. The Alexander teacher conveys correct information to this organism through “expert manipulation.” In Alexander’s literary imagination, these kinaesthetic transactions represent no less than an evolutionary force, through which enlightened Europeans might transcend both the mental deficiencies of the “savage races” and the physical afflictions created by industrial civilisation. As a writer, therefore, Alexander became a creature of his time.
Alexander no doubt believed that he was accurately describing the nature and significance of his work. But “All the damn fools in the world,” he once said to a student in a very different voice, “believe they are actually doing what they think they are doing.” I suspect that when Alexander was teaching, he was doing much more and much less than his writing tells us. In practice, language and movement were co-ordinated, interdependently, in the embodied self. This work was not only ‘psycho-physical,’ but also linguistic and intersubjective. Sensory perceptions were stimulating uses of language, which were stimulating somatic changes and new ranges of perception, not only in the individual ‘organism’ he happened to be teaching, but among all of the people present.
In relation to his practice, the weakness of Alexander’s writing does not result from the poverty of language or from the passage of time. The voices of writers can move people to awareness, action, or tears across centuries. Many passages from Alexander’s writing still ring true and illuminate his practice. Even in Alexander’s time, however, it was his teaching, not his books, that moved people in new directions. And it was Alexander’s teaching, more than his writing, that led John Dewey toward a progressive, fully integrated vision of individual development: in “…rich and manifold association with others,” Dewey wrote in The Public and Its Problems, through “…the means and ways of communication” in “…interdependent activities.” note7 This is how we still discover the richness and vitality of Alexander’s teaching afresh: through the hands, voices, perceptions, memories of his followers, resonating in the fullness of our own experience.
(1) Stafford, William, Writing the Australian Crawl, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor (1978) p.20 go back to text
(2) Chomsky, Noam, Language and Mind, Harcourt, Brace and World, New York (1968) p.14 go back to text
(3) Elbow, Peter, Writing Without Teachers, Oxford University Press, London (1973) go back to text
(4) Stafford, William, op. cit. go back to text
(5) Maisel, Edward, The Alexander Technique, The Essential Writings of F. Mattias Alexander, Carol Communications, New York (1989) pp.3-12 go back to text
(6) Alexander, F. Mattias, The Use of the Self Centerline Press (1988) p.viii go back to text
(7) Dewey, John, The Public and Its Problems, Swallow, Athens (1988) pp. 150, 155 go back to text
About The Writer
Keith Hjortshoj teaches writing and is the Director of Writing in the Majors, an interdisciplinary language and learning program at Cornell University. He is completing a book called Ease and Difficulty in Writing, based on his studies of language and movement.
Durante mas de 100 años, la Técnica Alexander viene siendo estudiada por
los artistas con la finalidad de aprender a “utilizarse” a si propios correctamente
para alcanzar así los mejores resultados en sus actividades artísticas.
Miquel Bernat/Drumming-GP, profesor y solista de Percusión, me convidó
para impartir una introducción a la Técnica Alexander en la ciudad de Oporto
(Portugal), por tratarse de una herramienta muy útil para los bailarinos,
actores, cantores y músicos que pretendan participar en este “workshop”.
No podemos tocar cualquier instrumento, danzar, actuar, recitar o cantar
sin nuestro cuerpo. Este es también nuestro instrumento y los
instrumentos musicales son como una extensión de nuestro próprio cuerpo.
La forma como tocamos es un reflejo de quien somos y de como somos.
La diferencia entre un instrumento afinado y otro desafinado es enorme.
Lo mismo se aplica cuando nuestro “cuerpo” está afinado o cuando no
estamos afinados; la diferencia es también considerable.
El mismo princípio se aplica a los artistas en general, el uso de si propios
necesita de una afinación eficiente para poder llegar a un nivel de interpretación
y ejecución elevado.
Un cuerpo tenso normalmente produce un resultado poco positivo, ya sea en
una coreografía, en un concierto o en una pieza teatral,
igualmente observamos que un cuerpo flácido irá producir un resultado poco
energético en cualquier performance.
Para alcanzar nuestro mejor estado, nuestra puesta a punto, necesitamos de
estar totalmente en el momento presente, totalmente en “nosotros próprios”.
La música o la creación imaginada en nuestras mentes y sentida en nuestros
corazones debe fluir en nuestro cuerpo y en nuestras manos sin obstáculos.
Para mas informaciones, por favor contacten Miquel Bernat en firstname.lastname@example.org
Venga a compartir conmigo esta técnica en un momento de introspección y gozo.
recuerden que los músicos pueden traer sus instrumentos.
Workshop Sábado 29/10/2016 y domingo 30/10/2016
horario: 10h-13h15 y 14h30-17h45
La pasión y devoción de Bruce Fertman asi como su capacidad de ajudar a los
artistas debe ser experimentado por todos.
J. Maddux, Alexander Teacher / Voice Teacher, New York and California, USA
Con mas de 50 años de experiencia como artista del movimiento y educador,
Bruce Fertman tiene una vida de práctica intensiva como profesor da la técnica
Bruce enseñó a los miembros de la Filarmónica de Berlim, Radio France, Sinfonica
Nacional de Washington D.C, Sinfonica de Honolulu para la Jeong Ga Ak Hoe-música
tradicional em Seul – Corea, en el “Curtis.Institut of Music” así como en el Five College
Dance Program en Amherst, Massachusetts por 13 años y para la comunidade de
Tango en Buenos Aires. Durante 6 años, Bruce dedico parte de su tiempo en enseñar
el movimiento a los actores en la Universidad de Temple e Rutgers.
La experiencia profesional de Bruce abarca el estudio en Gimnasia, Danza Moderna,
Improvisación de contacto, técnica Alexander, Tai Chi Chu’an, Aikido, Chanoyu,
Tango Argentino y Kyudo.
En 1982, Bruce fundó la Alexander Alliance International, una inter-generacional y
multicultural comunidad escolar devota a entrenar y enseñar la técnica Alexander.
Bruce Fertman es autor del libro “This Path Begins, Renderings of the Tao Te Ching”.
En la actualidad está en vias de lanzar su segundo libro titulado “Touching The Intangible”.
Thanks to Selma Gokcen, I’ll be giving individual lessons on October 3rd and 4th.
Location: 1 Wolseley Road, Crouch End, London, N8 8RR
Fee: £50 for a 5o minute lesson.
To save yourself a space simply drop me an email at: email@example.com
Perhaps you’d enjoy reading a few accounts of memorable individual lessons I’ve given over the years.
Hope to see you in London at Studio One!
Founding Director of The Alexander Alliance International
For a hundred years now performing artists have been studying the Alexander Technique to learn about attuning themselves, as people, and as artists. Miquel Angel Bernat, a marimba professor, has invited me to Porto to introduce Alexander’s work to his students. Because the Alexander Technique is so useful to dancers, actors, and singers as well, we have decided to open the workshop to anyone who is a performing artist, amateur or professional.
We cannot dance, sing, act or play our music without our bodies. Either our body is our instrument, or our instrument is an extension of our body. In both cases, how we use our bodies while performing profoundly influences the quality of our performance.
The difference between playing our instrument when they are in tune, and when they aren’t, is enormous.
The difference between acting, singing, dancing or playing our music when our bodies are finely tuned, and when they aren’t, is equally enormous.
Musical tone and muscular tone are strikingly interconnected. A tight body tends to produce a tight sound. A flaccid body tends to produce a flaccid sound.
To act, dance, sing, or play it helps when we are fully embodied. We want what is in our minds and our hearts to flow immediately through our bodies, through our hands, and through our voice, without obstruction.
Please join me for a day of insight and enjoyment. Bring your instruments!
For details and to register contact Miquel Angel Bernat Martinez at firstname.lastname@example.org
About Bruce Fertman
Bruce Fertman’s joy and passion for the work, his keen intellect, his amazing ability to help the artist open completely to his or her imagination and creativity must be seen – no it must be experienced. Bruce is quietly astounding.
– J. Maddux, Alexander Teacher / Voice Teacher, New York and California, USA
With over 50 years experience as a movement artist and educator, Bruce Fertman brings a lifetime of training to his work as an Alexander teacher.
Bruce has worked with members of the Berlin Philharmonic, Radio France, The National Symphony in Washington DC, the Honolulu Symphony, for Jeong Ga Ak Hoe, a traditional Korean music ensemble in Seoul, Korea, and for the Curtis Institute of Music. He taught for the Five College Dance Program in Amherst, Massachusetts for 13 years, and for the Tango community in Buenos Aires. For 6 years, Bruce taught movement for actors at Temple and Rutgers University.
Bruce’s training encompasses disciplined study in Gymnastics, Modern Dance, Contact Improvisation, Alexander Technique, Tai Chi Chu’an, Aikido, Chanoyu, Argentine Tango, and Kyudo.
In 1982, Bruce co-founded the Alexander Alliance International, an intergenerational, multicultural community/school devoted to the training of Alexander Technique.
Author of Where This Path Begins, Renderings of the Tao Te Ching, Bruce is currently at work on his second book entitled, Touching The Intangible.
There was once a little girl and she was terribly bored. There was nothing to do, and not only was there nothing to do, there was absolutely nothing at all.
On The First Day
Since there was absolutely nothing the little girl decided, quite confidently, that the first thing she needed was space. “Nothing is nothing, she thought, but space is definitely something. It’s open and it can be filled.” She was surprised how easy it was to create space. Just like that.
The little girl liked space. It made her feel free. For quite a long while that was enough for her. Until she felt the need for something else, something a little more substantial, though she didn’t want to lose the sense of space she loved so much.
On The Second Day
She created moisture. She was proud of herself for coming up with such a good solution. Her creation still felt infinitely spacious and yet now, it also felt full. She closed her eyes sensing the coolness of the moisture upon her skin, and as she did she saw darkness, a darkness as vast and as beautiful as the space she had created. The little girl rested within this moist coolness and safe darkness for a long time. She enjoyed being creative.
On The Third Day
Feeling mischievous, she awoke with a sparkle in her eyes. She wanted an adventure. She decided, in one fell swoop, to create every thing in the world that ever would be. She hadn’t realized that she had inadvertently created time, and she had no idea of just how many things that would be, but then again she had made a tremendous amount of space. To make sure she had indeed created all the stuff of the world, she made light to shine upon everything she created. It was turning out to be an exceptionally busy but good day.
Suddenly there was utter chaos, and it was exhilarating. She hadn’t as yet names for anything, and she hadn’t the foggiest idea of what all these things were for, but she loved watching them floating in her space. Some things were moving slowly and some things were whizzing by dangerously fast, so fast that sometimes things would collide into one another, creating loud sounds. She had never heard sounds before.
All this commotion was intoxicating. It was awesome. But after a while the little girl began to get dizzy. Nothing ever stayed in the same place! Something would appear that she loved and then, in a flash, it would be gone. Never to be seen again. Or worse, something would smash into what she loved and it would shatter into a thousand pieces.
On The Fourth Day
Her dizzy spells continued. She didn’t want to get rid of everything. She didn’t even know for sure whether she could de-create something. Then she came up with what she thought was a great idea. She decided to create gravity and ground, and the moment she did, everything, literally, fell into place.
She couldn’t believe how good this felt. It was as magnificent as her first experience of space. Everything was sitting comfortably. Everything was at rest. Everything was settled and seemed entirely happy exactly where it was, and exactly being what it was. There was some logic to where everything was but the little girl did not yet know what it meant for something to be logical.
After a while she realized that even with all the stuff that was now in her world there still seemed to be an equally infinite amount of space. This seemed mysterious to her. And there was still plenty of moisture. In fact, by creating gravity and the ground, some of the moisture had become more substantial and concentrated and had fallen, making oceans and rivers and waterfalls, which for some unknown reason made her feel quiet inside and happy.
Everything looked beautiful to her. All at once she realized that, since she started creating, she hadn’t been bored for a second! It was as if she had discovered the secret to happiness. Creativity. She was content for a very, very long time, for eons.
On The Fifth Day
The little girl was so utterly content, that is until she realized she had not had a really creative idea in a long time. And then she did. Out of the blue, (why the sky was blue she did not know), another idea popped into her head. She wondered where on earth these ideas came from. She thought, “What if I could create creatures who had entirely different ways of perceiving and experiencing this beautiful world I have made?” So she created creatures that could see her world from above, and creatures that could see under the water, and creatures that lived within the ground itself, and creatures that lived in the trees. She created creatures that lived where it was hot and creatures that lived where it was cold, creatures that could see, and smell, and taste, and hear and touch the world she had created, all simultaneously experiencing the same world differently. “Why, she thought, that would be like creating millions of worlds inside of the one world I created! That struck her as quite clever and efficient.
The little girl spent a long, long time just watching all these creatures and comparing one to the other. Again there was some kind of logic to the whole thing but still she did not know what that meant. Soon this was to change.
After a long while her curiosity got the better of her. What was making her world go round? What made the creatures in the air able to be up there? Why did some creatures eat other creatures? Most amazing to her was how these creatures seemed to come and go. New creatures would appear while older ones would disappear. Creatures tended to be small at first and then got bigger, and the trees too. What was that? The questions seemed endless.
Another idea popped into her head, but she was not sure whether it was a good idea or not so she did not act upon it right away, which she thought was very mature. She loved the world so much as it was, even if she didn’t understand it. “My world seems to understand itself, she thought. It knows exactly what to do. Maybe I should stop here. This feels complete. Everything works. It’s beautiful. It’s interesting. Who cares if I don’t understand it?” But the questions kept coming. They were beginning to make her uncomfortable, sometimes even unhappy.
On The Sixth Day
The little girl decided to take one of the creatures she had created and make them capable of thinking about her creation. Personally, she did not want to think too much about it. That wasn’t her thing. She didn’t feel very smart, just very creative. Besides, there were just too many questions. The little girl became very serious and thought, “If I were to make every individual creature of this particular kind able to think maybe, eventually, this creature would be able to answer my questions.”
And so even though the little girl felt a funny feeling in her stomach, she went ahead and did it anyway. She thought, “Well, how am I going to find out if this is a good idea or not if I don’t try?” There seemed to be something logical about that too.
She mustered up her courage and made it so this one kind of creature could think and then right away she realized these creatures would need to be able to communicate their thoughts to one another if they were to be able to figure things out together, and so she created a bunch of languages because she thought a bunch of languages would be more interesting than just creating one.
On The Seventh Day
Without noticing it, (she had been so, so busy), the little girl was growing older. She had seen a lot, and done a lot. She began feeling tired, something she’d never felt before. “Perhaps it would be good for me to rest for a while and spend a little time not creating,” she thought. The little girl spent a long while simply gazing at her creation. “It’s good,” she thought, “very good.” She loved her world. Sleep was coming over her as if she were being covered with a soft, warm blanket. She thought, “I think the world will be okay for a little while if I don’t watch it.” Again there was that funny feeling in her stomach, but before she knew it she had fallen fast asleep.
This brings us exactly to where we are now. Our little girl remains asleep. As she sleeps our thinking creatures have been busy trying to figure everything out. They’ve found a lot of answers to a lot of her questions. On this front, they are doing very well, even though there remain far more questions to be answered than the ones they have answered because each answer they come up with seems to create new questions. These creatures may be busy for a long time, maybe forever.
I say maybe forever because it seems that thinking as much as these thinking creatures do brings with it strange side effects, something the little girl could not have predicted. One of the side effects is that these creatures seem not to care very much about the other creatures or, for that matter, about anything the little girl created. The thinking creatures seem so busy thinking and trying to figure everything out that they don’t notice how beautiful everything is, how everything works together, how well it all takes care of itself.
As our little girl sleeps, the world continues on its own course without her. I know that sooner or later she will wake up, and when she does I wonder what she will find and what she will think about it. I am sure once she sees the lay of the land another idea will pop into her head.
After all, she is a very creative little girl.
You might wonder how this story of Genesis popped into my head. Without my knowing it, it had been writing itself for a long time.
After many years I began to discern a sequence within my method for helping people create more of the kind of world they wished to live in. The story of our little girl, and the creation of her world, unfolds precisely in this sequence. It’s a story that contains within it my pedagogy, the genesis of one way of working with people.
First there is nothing.
There is nothing like the concept of nothingness to put life into perspective. The prospect of individual non-existence can have a sobering affect. And it can have a freeing affect too. Eliphalet Oram Lyte wrote a little ditty that expresses my attitude as a teacher, the mood I do my best to create within my workshops and classes.
Row, row, row your boat
gently down the stream,
merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
life is but a dream…
We’re all here rowing our own boats. We are all going down the same stream to the same place. It’s not our stream. We don’t know where the stream will carry us. Our boats don’t belong to us either, but we are responsible for taking care of them. We want to learn how to row our boats gently, that means to me, without excessive force. We want to develop the sensitivity to discern the undercurrents, and the perceptivity to read the river. And when we can, why not bring a bit of merriment to our little adventure…merriment, that is, buoyancy, liveliness, zest, lightheartedness, warmth, friendship, festivity, hilarity, and pleasure?
Life is but a dream. Could be. Who knows for sure? Can we know for certain that we are not being dreamt? Could it be we are but figments of one creative imagination, seemingly alive within a very realistic dream?
But whatever the case may be, best not to take ourselves too seriously. When something seems unimportant, that’s the time to take it seriously. When something seems vitally important, that’s the time to crack a joke, to smile, to have some fun.
Why? Because it just works better that way. When people are not trying too hard to get it right they have more fun, and when they have more fun, they learn more.
One the first day she thought, “Nothing is nothing, but space is definitely something. It’s open and it can be filled.”
That’s where I begin, with a person’s sense of space. For me, the sense of space is a sense, just like our other senses. There is essentially no space within our bodies, but with training we can come to sense a tremendous amount of space within us. We can be in a packed subway car, everyone pressed against one another, and feel a tremendous sense of space and relaxation. There is learning to see and sense the space all around us in such a way that it actually supports us like an invisible spider web, allowing us to sit comfortably in the center of our world. There is the lively space between, between us and our computers, between us and our food, between us and our thoughts, between us and those we love and those we don’t. This is where I begin.
One the second day she closed her eyes sensing the coolness of the moisture upon her skin and as she did she saw darkness, a darkness as vast and as beautiful as the space she had created.
When I begin to use my hands to help awaken a person’s kinesthesia and propriception my hands have a way of getting under the skin, of finding fluidity within them, a kind of underground stream streaming throughout them. I am water touching water. This sense of moisture is new to most people and they find their eyes closing. They want to sense this moisture within a vast inner space.
On the third day some things were moving slowly and some things were whizzing by dangerously fast, so fast that sometimes things would collide into one another, creating loud sounds. She had never heard sounds before.
The world sometimes feels like this when we’ve got lots to do. We’ve got to get to work, but first we have to make lunches for the kids, and drop them off at school, then pick up our coworker whose car broke down. I ask students to bring me the “stuff” their lives are made of, their responsibilities, their projects, their problems, their pain, and their pleasures. It’s easy to become overwhelmed. It’s as if the world we’re whirling around us. It’s as if someone were stirring things up. How can we allow the stirring to stop, how can we let the mud settle to the bottom until the water is clear?
On the fourth day she decided to create gravity and ground, and the moment she did, everything, literally, fell into place.
Humans need mobility and stability. Objects are great at showing us how to be stable. They know how to sit, how to receive support from the ground, so they can rest, so they can just be where they are and what they are. They know how not to fidget, how to be still. Humans need to learn this too. As far as gravity is concerned there is only space and stuff in this world, and humans classify as stuff. Gravity treats us the same way it treats every thing and every one. Gravity is fair. It’s our responsibility to learn how to work with gravity. We live on common ground, shared ground. The same ground supports us all. We’ve got to learn how to come down to the ground. We must come to realize we were all created equal. From where doth our support come? It comes from the ground. But sometimes we must go down to get it.
On the fifth day the little girl thought, What if I could create creatures who had entirely different ways of perceiving and experiencing this beautiful world I have made?”
A big part of my work is re-introducing the sensory world to people. We have spent time becoming oriented, fluid, and stable. Now it’s time to enliven and refine our sensory life. It’s not about sensory indulgence. The senses can take us way beyond pleasure. The senses allow us to gratefully receive the subtle magnificence of the world in which we live. Paradoxically, through the senses we get a glimpse of something beyond the senses, we get a glimpse of the essence of life itself, of life speaking directly through its own language without interpretation. Through the senses we experience communion.
On the sixth day the little girl decided to take one of the creatures she had invented and make them capable of thinking about her creation.
Once my students have had glimpses into another way moving, sensing, and being in their world, their curiosity awakens. The questions start coming. “How come we lose our mobility and stability?” “Are there cultures who don’t lose it as much?” How about other animals?” “Is there some structural flaw in our upright structure?” “What makes us able to be upright?” “Why is it so difficult to continue to sense ourselves kinesthetically?” Mostly I say, “I don’t really know for sure.” We begin to think about thinking? Are there different ways to think? Cognition. Meditation. Contemplation. Awareness. Consciousness. Intelligence. Sensory Intelligence. We begin to find language for our new experiences. Together we enter a world of wondering.
On the seventh day the little girl thought, “Perhaps it would be good for me to rest for a while and spend a little time not creating,” she thought. The little girl spent a long while simply gazing at her creation. “It’s good, very good,” she thought. She loved her world.
You can’t do anything forever. Obsessing doesn’t help. It’s not healthy. Sometimes you just have to forget about the whole thing. Take a break. Don’t think about yourself or your work. “You’re fine exactly the way you are,” I tell my students. I tell them, “Never change. I love you just the way you are!” Everyone smiles. I encourage people. I know people do the best they can. I don’t evaluate people. Through this work goodness in people rises to the surface by itself. I don’t know why. Goodness, and love too. Love for the world, love for others, love for themselves. And love for that little girl.
In this heartfelt documentary, award winning videographer Renea Roberts captures what Alexander’s work is about as understood through The Alexander Alliance Germany, a school I founded in 1996, now knows as the Alexander Alliance Europe.