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Posts tagged ‘alexander alliance international’

May Nothing Stand Between Us

 

In the first half of my life I built walls; in the second half of my life I am doing my best to take those walls down.

By believing that the teachers I had chosen to study under were the most gifted, the most astute, the most skilled, by association, made me feel special and superior to others. By believing the disciplines I had chosen to study were the most profound, by association, made me feel special and superior to others.

Others had missed the boat, were not on the bus. They had made the wrong choices, and I the right ones.

I remember with embarrassment, some 40 years ago, defining Alexander’s work in opposition to Ida Rolf’s work, how Alexander’s work was educational, non-manipulative, and wholistic, while Rolf’s work was mechanical, intrusive, and reductionist. I remember hating the Rolfing logo of a man stacked up like building blocks.

T’ai Chi Chu’an and Aikido were superior to other martial art forms. Zen Buddhism and Taoism were more sophisticated than monotheistic religions. Democrats were enlightened and Republicans were greedy. And so it went. Bricks made from hardened beliefs. Mortar made from a muddy mind.

Between the first half of my life and the second half of my life, like a Murakami anti-hero, I fell into a deep, dark well. When finally I dug my way out I was psychologically emaciated. During that time I had gone through a divorce, my kids had left home, the house I lived in and loved for 20 years was sold, I gave up my business, my mother died, and then a year later, my father, who I loved dearly, also died.

The day my father died we were alone. Sitting next to him in an old worn out, saggy leather chair, legs crossed under me, tallis over my shoulders, quietly, I read out loud from my copy of Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the psalms;

Even in the midst of great pain, Lord,
     I praise you for that which is.
I will not refuse this grief
     or close myself to this anguish.
Let shallow men pray for ease:
     “Comfort us; shield us from sorrow.”
I pray for whatever you send me,
     and I ask to receive it as your gift.
You have put a joy in my heart
     greater than all the world’s riches.
I lie down trusting the darkness,
     for I know that even now you are here.

I begin feeling cold and decide to get up and put an extra blanket over my Dad who now lay unconscious for three days. Getting up I hear a loud crunching sound. It’s my knee. On the metal guardrail, along side my father’s bed, hangs his old wooden cane. I reach out, take it, and for the next month limp exactly as my father had in the last month of his life.

Emotionally depleted, it was nigh impossible to find my inner structural support. With each passing month my body aged a year. My weakened, painful knee set my body askew and it was not long before my hip and lower back followed suit. I was a mess.

I decided I needed to get help. I made an appointment to have ten Structural Integration sessions, treatments based on the work of Ida Rolf. And wouldn’t you know it, it was just what I needed! It was as if old injuries from gymnastic falls and car accidents were letting me go. I was regaining my inner structural support and becoming comfortable again.

My knee was still unstable. After having practiced Tai Chi every day for 40 years, I woke up one morning and knew I had to see what would happen if I simply stopped doing Tai Chi. And wouldn’t you know it, my knee got better and better with each passing week!

The walls just keep coming down for me. Maybe that is why the second half of my life feels so light, so free. I don’t have any need for walls these days. If I don’t know what is right how can I be wrong? If I don’t have anything to prove who can argue with me? If I have nothing to defend what can I lose? And if I am for everyone where is my enemy?

John Tuite, a dear friend of mine, sent me a photo. It’s a photo of an art installation by Jorge Mendez Blake entitled, A Single Book Disrupts the Foundation of a Brick Wall.

This is my hope. May my little book do its little bit to help bring down walls between the various Alexander lineages. May it make a small contribution to bringing down walls between somatic disciplines. May assumptions, prejudices and false notions become dislodged. May grudges and gossip fall by the wayside. May nothing stand between us.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.”

 Robert Frost

JorgeMendezBlake_01 2

 Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart

by Bruce Fertman

The Voice Of The World (A revision of Singing In the Rain)

I remember a class I took with Marjory Barlow in 1988. She was explaining how at first you give these words, these phrases to your student knowing they will have little or no idea of what you are talking about. But then, gradually, through the subtle and clear use of your hands you give your student an experience of what those words and phrases actually mean. The student mentally and physically couples them together and voilà, when she or he thinks the words, without having to really do anything, the words themselves trigger an effortless response, a response that comes to feel almost reflex-like, a response that is at once supportive, organizing and liberating. It just happens, like typing in a domain name of where you want to go, clicking on search and, presto, there it is, and there you are.

It’s ingenious really, and effective. As one continues to study with teachers, and on one’s own, which is essential, this kinesthetic coupling of the words with this effortlessly revitalizing reflex-like response becomes ever more wedded, ever more precise and powerful, which is why having hands on work through one’s whole life is a good idea, which is why being part of an Alexander community is such a good idea, which is what I have chosen to do, which has been a blessing beyond words.

Alexander referred to these words, these phrases, as directions. He writes, 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.”  By mechanisms I assume Alexander is referring to this ever so delicate but dynamic reorganization of the head in relation to the neck, and of the head and neck’s relationship to the entire torso, and of the head, neck, and torso’s relationship, as a flexibly working unit, to the arms and legs.

If you are an Alexander teacher or a long term student of Alexander’s work all of this is old hat. Sorry, but I am going somewhere and need to begin at the beginning.

Now these words are a shorthand, an abbreviation for a complex psychophysical happening within us, and yet they they still strike me as a bit long and cumbersome. Let the neck be free so that the head can go forward and up so that the back can lengthen and widen, all together, one after the other. And then there are secondary directions that speak to the limbs as well, to the heels, knees and hips and to the elbows, wrists, and fingers, and to the tongue, (which I see as limb-like; think of a frog.)

It takes a bit of time to stream through these directions, especially at first. When we get proficient, perhaps just a few seconds. Marj Barstow, one of my mentors, once said to a student who was belaboring the process, “I wish I could say all these words to you at the same time, instead of one after the other.” Marj understood that this sequence of instructions had to be played more like a fluid arpeggio on a guitar rather than a separate collection of notes.

The very same day I had a class with Marjory Barlow I also had a class with Wilford Barlow. I loved watching and listening to them both. Wilford deferred to his wife saying, “Now this is just my idea. If you want to know how it really works, ask Marjory.” But I loved Wilford’s ideas, and his hands too. He said something like, (it was long ago), “After a time the words are not always necessary. The change we want can come about without them.” I wasn’t sure but my guess was that after we had for many years used our conscious mind, and with it language to reeducate our kinesthesia we could come to trust it more and more and simply let it work for us. Perhaps our kinesthesia is like a child who for many years needs guidance, but then gradually grows up into a capable and responsible adult who no longer needs looking after all the time.

Years have flown by since then, 30 years to be exact. I’ve had some time to think about this on my own, and so now I will share with you my thoughts on the matter.

Let’s imagine you are on the road, traveling in some foreign country. A cold snap blows in unexpectedly. You decide to buy a scarf and a pair of gloves. You find something you like, a bit expensive and so decide to charge it on your credit card. You open your wallet and notice your Discover card is missing. You pick up your phone and know their phone number because their phone number happens to spell DISCOVER. So instead of having to remember 8 numbers in sequence, you only have to remember one word.

What if I could find one word that could contain for me the full sequence of directions. I decided on the word ‘One’. ‘One’ would now mean for me Let the neck be free so that the head can go forward and up so that the back can lengthen and widen, all together, one after the other. The word ‘One’ would now be the verbal trigger for my entire Primary Pattern. After all, the word ‘One’ is in essence just a sound, a sound English speaking people decide means the number between 0 and 2. It is just a sound. The meaning is not inherent to the sound. English speaking people collectively agree on what that sound means. A person for whom English is a second language at some point had to learn what that sound meant. At first, in their mind, they may have said to themselves what it meant in their own language, but over time they no longer had to do that. At some point the word One, the sound One immediately meant to them the number between 0 and 2.

So, I thought, why could I not change the meaning of the sound ‘One’ and have it mean what I wanted it to mean? If for me the sound ‘One’ was coupled with Let the neck be free so that the head can go forward and up so that the back can lengthen and widen, all together, one after the other, and if that phrase was kinesthetically coupled with this effortlessly revitalizing reflex-like response, then all three of them were now coupled, like links of a fence.

I played with using the word ‘One’ as my condensed Alexander direction. I liked how fast it was. I liked that it was less wordy. Yes it lacked a bit of the specificity that Alexander’s words had for me. But with practice I got pretty good at it.

Then the thought occurred to me that I didn’t have to use a word at all. That I could just use a sound, given that, in essence, a word is just a sound. I came up with the sound, Paaaah. This worked much better than the word ‘One’. It had something to do with the fact that it had no meaning to begin with and so I had not to de-couple any meaning from the sound. The sound was soft and expansive and seemed never ending. I also had associations with the sound, one being Alexander’s whispered Ah, and the other being the sound Kyudoists, (Zen Archers) use to refer to the moment when the arrow is released from the bow. Paaaah. I didn’t lose much specificity when using the sound Paaaah. It was indeed a better container for Alexander’s directions, at least for me.

I will, however, never throw out Alexander’s directions. They are for me like some song from another era that I still love singing. Those words still move me.

More years went by. I was in Tokyo standing at one of these interminably long red lights. I was end-gaining. I wanted to go but the red light was telling me to stay put. “That’s its collective meaning virtually all over the world, even though it’s a color, not a word, and not a sound. It’s also an object. Gee, I thought, we can pretty much make anything mean anything. It is totally up to us!”

I decided it would probably be a good idea to continue letting the red stop signal mean stop. But I decided that instead of it meaning stop on a superficial level, I decided that it meant stop on a deep level, that it meant to stop everything within myself, to completely stop any unnecessary holding within myself, to completely stop waiting, to enter into a condition of profound Alexandrian inhibition.

There I was at this infinitely long red light in a state of radical non-end-gaining, wide awake, vividly aware of everything around me. When the light turned green and everyone began walking across the street, I didn’t want to go. I was so happy exactly where I was, but then I thought, “better to follow the simple directions”, and so I crossed the street as I had never crossed a street before, as if I were singing in the rain, without the rain.

And then the revelation came. What if instead of using an internal trigger, i.e., Alexander’s words, words that were being produced from inside my mind, what if I projected my mind onto the world around me? What if I had the world speak to me from the outside in, instead of me speaking to me from the inside out? Instead of my mind being inside my body, what if my body was inside of a big, benevolent mind? It was entirely up to me to decide what any word, sound, object or creature meant to me, so what would happen if suddenly everything, absolutely everything  was saying to me, directly, wordlessly, Let the neck be free so that the head can go forward and up so that the back can lengthen and widen, all together, one after the other?

Ah, so that was what Gary Snyder meant when he wrote, “The world is our consciousness, and it surrounds us.” I got it!

Could it be this simple? Could anyone do it? Not really. First it would be necessary to have learned how to couple Alexander’s Primary Movement to some trigger, and perhaps Alexander’s words were the perfect first trigger because they are so specific and clear.

Again, I returned to my new insight.

What if I decided that everything, utterly everything in the world said to me, “Bruce, free yourself in relation to me. Free yourself in relation to me. Let your neck be free so that your head can go forward and up so that your back can lengthen and widen, all together, one after the other.” 

The Voice of the World. The silent, wordless voice of the world saying to me, “Bruce, free yourself in relation to me. Free yourself in relation to me.” 

Suddenly no words were needed at all. It was as if every object, my coffee cup, my keyboard, my computer screen, the flowers by the chair, the sound of the heater were all saying to me, directly, immediately, wordlessly, just through their sheer existence, “Bruce, free yourself in relation to me. Free yourself in relation to me. Everything was somehow kinesthetically coupled to my Primary Movement.

What if every person, especially people I struggled with meant “Bruce, free yourself in relation to me. Free yourself in relation to me.

No longer was there me trying to speak to me from somewhere inside of my body. The entire world and everything and everyone in it was now freeing me, directing me, opening me, awakening me. The Voice of the World was speaking to me and I was listening. Not only was I listening, I was following its direction, taking its good and loving advice.

Why not free myself in relation to everything and everyone?

That must of been it, the meaning of the Flower Sermon given by the Buddha. Sakyamuni gives a wordless sermon to his sangha. He holds up a white flower. No one understands it’s meaning except Mahakasyapa, who smiles.

That simple flower, and the meaning we bestow upon it speaks to us, in silence, inviting us back to who we are.

 

Bruce Fertman

Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart

 

 

 

 

My Grandfather’s Eyes

 

Isaac Fertman

Once upon a time a rabbi told me that once upon a time, being a rabbi was not a profession. That a rabbi, technically, was not a teacher but rather a student. People in a community would select a person they felt possessed a deep understanding of the torah and the talmud to help them learn how to be good Jews. They supported this rabbi and his family so that this rabbi had time to study on his own, and also to study together with them. Judaism is basically a book club. Jews read this one book, every year, year after year, (and a few others), and delve into its ideas as deeply as possible.

When my trainees graduate from the Alexander Alliance I tell them there is no need to be nervous about being an Alexander teacher. If nervous, I suggest they continue thinking of themselves simply as Alexander students, students who happen to have completed a training program, therefore possessing a deeper understanding of Alexander’s work than most people.

When people pay you, I tell them, they are not paying you to teach them, they are paying you so that you can study Alexander’s work on your own, and with them. Your students pay you to study along with you, to join you in study.

It is not your job to teach them. It is your job to create conducive conditions in which they can study and learn. It is their job to learn. It is your job to learn along with them. It is not your job to entertain them. It is your job to entertain yourself, and their job to entertain themselves. It is everyone’s job to be kind, respectful, and to do one’s best.

My grandfather, Isaac, on my father’s side, told me now long ago, when I was a little boy, that I should be proud of being a Kohen, a member of the priesthood, a far distant descendent of Aaron, brother to Moses. I had no idea what he was talking about but it sounded cool. I also had no idea why, when I looked into his beautiful eyes, I could see him holding back tears. He told me how, because he was a Kohen, his shtetl saved money and paid for him to go to school in a nearby town where he learned Hebrew. At sixteen, alone, he got on a ship and made his way to America.

Now I am the age of my grandfather when he told me I was a Kohen. Here I am, supported by others to study on my own, everyday, to write, to think out loud, to create opportunities where others can study along with me. I don’t think of myself as a professional, as having a career. I just have a life. I am paid to live my life as a student, to do research and to share my findings. Baruch Hashem.

Bruce Fertman

Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart

Recognition Of The Obvious

 

The Alexander Alliance Europe

 

David Mills, a fellow apprentice of Marjorie Barstow once said to me, “Humility is the recognition of the obvious.” I didn’t get it. And then later, I got it.

Learning languages does not come easily to me. Honestly, that is an understatement. I’m hopeless. When a person learns I live in Japan for five months a year he or she inevitably declares, “So you speak Japanese?”, to which I reply, “No, I don’t, not at all.” They find this hard to believe. But it is true. I humbly accept my profoundly limited linguistic capacities when it comes to learning foreign languages. Often I add, “However, I am still working on my English and am happy to report I am making progress.”

I can also humbly say, because it has become obvious to me and everyone else who knows me and knows what I do, that I have a knack for promoting Alexander’s work. As a little kid I was able to teach other kids, through words and touch, how to ride a bike, or hit a ball, or climb a tree, or do a back handspring. It just came naturally to me. So I can humbly say, I am good at talking and writing about Alexander’s work, and also at photographing it.

Of course not everyone likes my writing or what I have to say about Alexander’s work, and not everyone likes my photography, but a lot of people do, and for one reason or another it has worked. For over forty years I have drawn people to Alexander’s work, inspiring them to study.

And so, humbly and happily, I share with anyone who may be interested my new website for The Alexander Alliance Europe. I enjoyed working on the project. Countless times I heard myself say out loud, ‘thank you’ to whomever programmed Wix.

If you are an Alexander teacher, meandering through this website may help you better to verbalize what you do. It may give you ideas about how you want, imagistically, to portray Alexander’s work.

There are some beautiful photographs of my mentors. It saddens me sometimes that most Alexander teachers have only seen photos of Marjorie Barstow after her osteoporosis set in. I loved how Marj looked and moved when she was young, that is, in her seventies! Here are a few photos of Marj when she was spry and powerful.

I wish more Alexander teachers had had the privilege to learn from Buzz Gummere, but at least here you can see the sparkle in his eyes. I cherish the photos I have of my learning from Elisabeth Walker. All of these first generation teachers aged so beautifully, with such grace, and lived for so long! I hope you, like me, find these photos inspiring.

The video page on this website makes it easy to find and watch videos that I’ve made, or have been made about me or the Alexander Alliance. I invite you to take twenty minutes and watch Quintessence, a documentary on Alexander’s work and on the Alexander Alliance. This documentary was made by Renea Roberts, award winning videographer and director of the film Gifting It: A Burning Embrace of Gift Economy, and of Rooted Lands – Tierras Arraigadas.

And of course, there is a lot of information about our school in Germany, as well as information about what we do in and around Europe, Asia, and America.

Feel free to give me feedback, positive or negative; either way it is all positive for me. And if you like, visit us in Germany, or join me sometime, somewhere.

Humbly yours,

Bruce

The Alexander Alliance Europe

Why Not?

 

Gate House at Gaunts House, Dorset, England

Why not? Why not allow Alexander Alliance Post Graduate teachers in England to study for free inside of our Alexander Alliance Post Graduate Program in Switzerland? Why not? And why not allow Alexander Alliance Post Graduate teachers in Switzerland to study for free inside of our program in England?

After all, all of them are Alexander teachers sincerely interested in expanding and honing their teaching skills. It’s fun to travel. It’s enriching to meet, work, and make friends with Alexander teachers from other countries.

The Alexander Alliance International is founded upon a vision of an intergenerational, multicultural community/school centered around the work of F.M. Alexander, a vision I had 45 years ago. That vision has become a reality.

Home of the Alexander Alliance Germany

Some Alexander Alliance Post Graduates have also begun participating in retreat trainings at the Alexander Alliance Germany. They get to do that at half the cost because having the post graduates contributes to the training of our trainees. So everyone wins. That’s what we want.

So, if you are considering joining either our Post Graduate Program in England or Switzerland, know that all of this is also available to you.

Email me at bf@brucefertman is you have any questions.

If you are interested in our England program email Ruth Davis at  ruth.a.davis@me.com.

If you are interested in our Swiss program email Magdalena Gassner at alexander.technik@gmx.ch

 

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Downtown, Zurich.

Hopefully I will see you in October in Dorset, or in November in Zurich.

Yours,

Bruce Fertman, for the Alexander Alliance International

 

Alexander Games – Led by Robyn Avalon – Sunday, September 24, 2017 in Zurich

What do these experiences have in common?

Being a dinosaur with a ponytail and long wings walking on the beach.

Finding support on a crowded Tokyo subway.

Asking a chauffeur to drive you to a new place.

Being a neck, negotiating between a heavy head and a sleepy body.

They are all part of group games designed to teach Alexander’s principles.

How do these playful moments help introduce Alexander’s Work?

Students have the opportunity to notice their habitual patterns, as well as ways to return to their innate coordination and grace; they gain both an understanding and experience of AT basics such as primary movement and inhibition; and they can directly feel how Alexander’s Work can offer them grace and ease in their life.

In this lively and experiential workshop, you will learn group and partner games which effectively offer people a direct, clear, and meaningful experience of Alexander’s Principles. You will also learn the essential tools for teaching in groups settings. Group teaching is fundamentally different than teaching individuals, and, as such, it requires it’s own skills.

You will learn how to get people moving, seeing, sensing, and thinking; how to create profound private moments in a group setting; how to keep the momentum and balance needed for group learning; and how to offer a clear, lively, meaningful experience of the Principles and tools with which we study them to a group.

We will both play and analyze these games, offering you the opportunity to experience them as a student, as well as learn how they are crafted and why they work! These Alexander Games have been crafted and taught for over 30 years in hundreds of workshops worldwide. Why not add them to your teaching toolbox!

Who Is This Workshop For?

This workshop is ideal for Alexander Teachers and Trainees as well as everyone else. It is a fun and informative way to experience the power of Alexander Work.

About Robyn

Robyn has been a student of FM Alexander’s Work for over 40 years. She is the Founding Director of the Contemporary Alexander School, the USA branch of Alexander Alliance International, offering Alexander Technique Teacher Training in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Portland, Oregon, as well as being on the Core Faculty of the AAI German and Japan schools since their inception. In the summers she is on the faculty of the renowned Meadowmount School of Music. In addition to training teachers, Robyn travels the world offering beginner through post-graduate workshops in a contemporary presentation of Alexander’s Principles.

In addition to Alexander Workshops, Robyn offers workshops and trainings that support educators in all fields. She is the creator of Living in a Body™: The Quintessential Owner’s Guide to Natural Movement. This body mapping professional certification course is offered worldwide, with translations available in English, Japanese, German and French. She also offers an ongoing series of post-graduate workshops, Ways of Knowing, which provide tools for accessing and incorporating intuition and imagination in the educational process.

Robyn especially enjoys bringing Alexander’s Work to a wide range of people. With her own extensive background in professional theater and dance, Robyn is most at home when offering the Work to many of the world’s leading orchestras, chamber ensembles, dance, theater, and opera companies, and circuses. But she is equally comfortable teaching in an Olympic equestrian arena, for the Ladies PGA, or at a meeting of the world’s top cardiac surgeons. Her private practice incorporates a unique blend of Contemporary Alexander, Cranial Sacral, Visceral Unwinding, Deep Imagery, Matrix Energetics®, and a life-long study of varied intuitive skills, to create a unique somatic experience. She enjoys teaching the very young and the very old, the absolute beginners and the masters, and everyone in between.

Incredibly broad knowledge, clear, to the point and exact, incredible energy, incredibly kind and loving,  profound and playful – that´s Robyn. 

Knowing Robyn has changed my life, given me more freedom and joy. Robyn has opened a whole new world of possibilities for me. She´s the Queen of Group teaching. If you want to learn to enjoy what you do, she is the one you want to meet. Robyn teaches ease, grace, high performance, curiosity and freedom. Her enthusiasm is contagious.

Marieke Klemm, MD, Alexander Technique Teacher

Workshop Details

 No prior experience necessary.

People of all ages welcome.

Limited number of participants.

Date: 24.09.2017, 10am – 6pm

Location: Technopark Zurich (close to train stop Hardbrücke)

Course fee: CHF 160.- (Students CHF 125.-)

Workshop language: English (translation to German)

Individual lessons (CHF 110.-/45ˈ) can be arranged on Thursday 21.09., Friday 22.09. & Monday 25.09.2017.

Additionally, Robyn will give a workshop entitled „Alexander Work in Everyday Life Situations“ on Saturday, 23.09.2017.

Organizers and assistant teachers: Magdalena and Johannes Gassner

For more information and to register call +41 (0)77 475 50 27 or write to alexander.technik@gmx.ch.

To learn more about Robyn and the Alexander Alliance:

http://www.contemporaryalexander.com

robyn@contemporaryalexander.com

http://www.peacefulbodyschool.com

The Alexander Alliance Post Graduate Training – Switzerland – With Bruce Fertman and Robyn Avalon – Accepting Applicants for April 2021

Alexander Alliance Post Graduate Training Program

In Europe, Asia, and America, classically trained 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 the need for jargon. They seem to like how I see people in their entirety, seeing through the body into a world of being and becoming.

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.

Many of my post-graduate students became curious about my training program, the Alexander Alliance Germany, and began visiting. They found a rigorous, demanding, disciplined training that at the same time was warm, friendly, lighthearted, and fun.

While at the Alliance Germany many of my post-graduate students encountered the teaching of Robyn Avalon. Like virtually everyone, myself included, they fell in love with her work, its depth, its clarity, its effectiveness, and perhaps above all, its joyfulness.

Robyn and I have been working together for 30 years. We are two teachers who have figured out how to be successful and effective AT teachers in the world at large. We will share our practical, hard earned wisdom with you so that you can do the same.

Our Post Graduate Training Program Switzerland will be composed of four 7 fullday retreats, two taught by Robyn Avalon and two taught by me. These four retreats will take place over a two-year period, totaling 200 hours of study. Retreats will be held in April and October. This Post Graduate Training Program is open to all certified teachers of the Alexander Technique.

Bruce and Robyn

We are excited to be co-teaching this Post Graduate Training Program, and we hope you are too.

Robyn is by far the most down to earth visionary I know. Fearlessly and lovingly she constantly pushes borders within herself and others. Her teaching is based on seemingly infinite knowledge and driven by sharp instincts. She creates exceptionally safe playgrounds in which limiting belief systems drop away like worn out clothes. With her everything becomes easy, exciting, meaningful, and definitely more fun. Magically, the impossible becomes possible.

Margarete Tueshaus – Alexander Teacher, ATVD, Tango Teacher, Equestrian

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, Bruces work is more than exciting; it is important, both to the world and to anyone involved in any way with Alexanders Technique.

Annie Turner Alexander Technique Teacher, STAT, England.

Here’s the material we’ll be covering.

The Physics and Metaphysics of Touch

 

To receive everything one must open ones hands, and give.  

Taisen Deshimaru

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 and learn how to access the whole person through myriad networks: skeletal, muscular, fascial, cellular, organ, and nervous systems.

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, 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. We never really only touch a person’s body. We 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 first have 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

We 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.

Knowing lots of group explorations, movement etudes, and games are important tools when it comes to teaching AT in groups. We will share some of our favorites with you – games we have crafted and taught to literally thousands of beginners over decades of teaching. Learn how to create your own etudes and games, which impart important AT principles and skills.

We will be giving multiple introductory workshops inside of the seven-fullday training retreats. Each of these one-day workshops will introduce Alexander’s work from a different point of view. These days of introductory workshops are part of the Post Graduate Training Program. It’s the best way to learn how to introduce the work to people in groups. We 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.

Finally, and perhaps most important to self-support, is how we think; how we think about our bodies, ourselves, others, and the world at large. Distorted and/or untrue thoughts and beliefs are self-sabotaging. Knowing how to observe, question, and defuse internal stimuli – thoughts, emotions, and sensations – may be more important than how we respond to external stimuli. Knowing how to use our mind to come to our senses sets us free.

Walking as an Alexandrian Procedure

Its 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.

When Erika Whittaker was asked 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.

 Life Work

 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?

Life Work is a contemporary Alexander procedure, 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 is enormously beneficial. It brings the Work to life and life into the Work.

Understanding Human Directionality

Photo: B. Fertman

Collectively, Robyn and I have been joyfully obsessing over human directionality for 81 years! That’s true. Robyn will approach human directionality via her Living in a Body™ material. My approach will be through the body mapping work developed by Bill and Barbara Conable, through the teaching of my Salmon Rising/Water Falling Patterns, and through an in depth look into the Albinus Copperplate Engravings.

Living in a Body™, a course in body mapping designed by Robyn nearly 25 years ago, has been translated into 5 languages and is now taught worldwide. Living in a Body™ teaches us how to see when a person’s map does not match their inherent design. It offers a multitude of etudes and games for helping them change the beliefs that interfere with their ability to live and work in accordance with their inherent design. In this training, Robyn will offer the essential highlights of the LIAB™ material.

Salmon Rising/Water Falling is an Alexander etude developed by me over many years, which helps make our invisible directional weave of support visible. Everyone seems to love learning these patterns. These oppositional yet complimentary kinesthetic pathways course their way through us and, when awakened, integrate us, allowing our bodies and beings to become light and substantial, soft and strong, firm and flexible, calm and clear, articulate and unified.

Constructive Conscious Surrender

In our work we know trying to make something happen and allowing something to happen are worlds apart. One is done alone, one in partnership. Allowing happens when we are in partnership with our nature, with what is natural within us, with our original design, with our innate coordination. Our job as AT teachers is to bring our students in touch with their inherent support, power, and ease. Gradually, our students begin to trust their innate coordination, and learn to live in partnership with it. Life becomes less of an effort and more of a dance.

When we lose touch with our partner, we lose support, and again we begin doing everything by ourselves. Trying and forcing return.

If we are to allow life to freely unfold, we must learn how to willfully and joyfully surrender, to “give up going it alone”. We learn to ask for how we want to be. We learn how to send clear directives to naturally governing forces deep within us. Paradoxically, learning to surrender to these deep governing forces gives us the control we always wanted.

We cannot force freedom upon ourselves or anyone else. Ultimately, the work does itself.

PROGRAM DETAILS

Our Post Graduate Training Program Switzerland will be composed of four 7-fullday retreats, two taught by Robyn Avalon and two taught by Bruce Fertman. These four retreats will take place over a two-year period, totaling 180 hours of study. This Program is open to all certified teachers of the Alexander Technique.

Organization and Registration: Magdalena Gassner (+41 (0)77 475 50 27 / alexander.technik@gmx.ch)

To learn more about Bruce Fertman, Robyn Avalon and the Alexander Alliance: www.alexanderalliance.org

If you have any questions whatsoever and you’d like to talk to me personally, I’d be happy to talk to you. Write to me at bf@brucefertman.com and we can arrange a time to talk. Also feel free to write to Magdalena Gassner atm.gassner@alexanderalliance.de

Robyn and I look forward to working with you,

Bruce Fertman

 

About 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.

Incredibly broad knowledge, clear, to the point and exact, incredible energy, incredibly kind and loving,  profound and playful – that´s Robyn. 

Knowing Robyn has changed my life, given me more freedom and joy. Robyn has opened a whole new world of possibilities for me. She´s the Queen of Group teaching. If you want to learn to enjoy what you do, she is the one you want to meet. Robyn teaches ease, grace, high performance, curiosity and freedom. Her enthusiasm is contagious.

M. Klemm, MD, Alexander Technique Teacher

About Bruce Fertman

Photo: Soomin Park

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, and America.

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 work centers around body and being, movement and meaning, and the relationship between physical and spiritual grace.

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

In Bruces 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 lifes 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, Thats who I am, that is who I could be.

M. TueshausAlexander Teacher, ATVD/ Tango Teacher/ Equestrian

 

 

 

Nothing Else To Say

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Words. They’re important. They’re worth thinking about. It’s worth taking the time and finding the precise word or words that express your truth. It’s worth visiting those words over and over again, as your understanding of what is true changes, and then changing those words, once again, until they express your truth as it lives within you now.

Certified. This word lacks beauty for me . Certified US Beef. Certified mail. Certified gluten free. Perhaps it has something to do with my having grown up in Philadelphia, a city founded by a Quaker, William Penn. It remains the only state where you don’t need a priest or a rabbi, or a government to certify that two people are married. What you need is a community. It’s your community that knows you, who recognizes you, and who cares about you. And it’s your community that supports you. A marriage has little chance of surviving in a vacuum. And so does an Alexander teacher.

Thirty five years ago, when Martha and I first founded the Alexander Alliance, we chose to award graduating students by giving them a document called a Statement Of Recognition. The words had meaning. The words matched what was happening. A person who had studied deeply, who had made a real commitment, was being recognized by their teachers, their colleagues, and their students. Perhaps most importantly, by the students they had begun to teach. The reason why I say most importantly by their students is because, ultimately, it’s your students who decide whether you are a teacher. No students. No teacher. If anyone certifies a teacher, it’s their students.

Marjorie Barstow didn’t certify us. She didn’t believe in certifying us. She didn’t believe it was necessary. She would say when asked if she certified teachers, “No, I don’t, however, some of my students have gone on to become excellent teachers of Alexander’s work.” She wanted us to know when we were ready to teach. Yes, there was a day when Marj said to me that she thought it would be good for my learning, if I began to teach more. But that was a suggestion. The decision was mine to make. Yes, she did write a letter saying I was a good Alexander teacher, but that was simply a letter of recommendation for a position I was applying for in a university theatre department.

And so it was, in this spirit, in Marj’s spirit,  that I chose the words I did for the document Martha and I gave to our graduating students.

Years have gone by. Almost three hundred people have graduated from the Alexander Alliance International. I felt it was time to look again at our Statement Of Recognition, and surprisingly, the words still rang true. But something was missing. In the original document I ended by saying that the graduate was “capable of imparting Alexander’s work to others.” I have changed this to, “and has made a commitment to imparting Alexander’s work to others, respectfully and benevolently.” Knowledge is not enough, not in our work. In Judaism we speak of possessing a “heart of wisdom.” That’s what I want to see from my students; that their knowledge of Alexander’s work emanate from the heart.

Soon another crop of students will graduate from the Alexander Alliance Germany. Their Statements of Recognition will read:

Germany Certification

Graduates. Open your hands and give. Really, there’s nothing else to say.