Kinesphere

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She has eyes in the back of her head.’

Have yourself a walk-about, and travel as if you did indeed have eyes in the back of your head. Notice what this thinking does for your inclusive awareness. Cultivation of one’s kinesphere* is integral to utilizing the Alexander Technique, and OSU’s AT class recently did so with a practice I call ‘Find Your Six.’

Include the six directions in your thinking as you move through the day: Below, Above, Beside, Beside, Before, Behind. Or, you could call the six directions: Earth, Sky, East, West, North, South.

*kinesphere: the sphere around the body easily reached while standing, and that moves with the person’s trace-form in space, (trace-form being the spatial consequences of our movement), as defined by movement theorist, Rudolf Laban.

New

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The scent of a brand-new book, the anticipation of new colleagues and new students, the considering of new ideas, the adoption of new routines. A soon-to-begin academic year is all about newness.  In preparation, I’ve been reading Cathy Madden’s, Teaching the Alexander Technique: Active Pathways to Integrative Practice, and found this question:

How can I teach in such a way that the Alexander Technique process sustains and restores cooperation with our natural design in service of what we do?’

I am fond of saying, ‘When I’ve learned everything there is to learn, it will be time to do something else.’ So far, the exploration of the Alexander Technique has kept my curiosity piqued and my interest keen. That’s about 35 years worth, ever since I slipped on my apartment building’s ice-covered steps, landing on a concrete edge, right on the lumbar spine. Always running a few minutes late in the morning, I was dashing out the door to get myself to Duxberry Arts Alternative School. Colleague and Dance teacher, Loren Bucek, suggested I try Alexander Technique lessons to assist with my recovery. Little did I know a life-long study had just begun.

I’m still asking questions, and appreciate Madden’s question for herself as she teaches. It’s a fine method of formulating a lesson, a workshop, a class. F.M. Alexander launched his vocal problems analysis with the posing of question after question. Asking, observing, choosing, assessing. It’s this spirit of inquiry that fuels the learning of the Technique, and if you have a curiosity about his process, I can recommend his small tome, The Use of the Self. First published in 1932, it was reissued in 2001 by Orion Books, Ltd. The first chapter is titled, ‘Evolution of a Technique,’ and although reading Mr. Alexander can be slow-going, it’s worth your investment of time. And OSU students, there is a copy in the stacks of the Music/Dance Library. I set eyes on it this very day, and it awaits you! Please note, do not wear white into the stacks, as you will emerge dust-covered and dirty.  I did. Just a heads-up—-

Wishing for all students and teachers a year of questions asked and answers found—-

Articulate

skull-778073_640Sidi Hessel’s 1978 book, The Articulate Body, was a serendipitous find at yesterday’s library book sale. For $1.00, a treasure came home with me, and its first section, ‘Articulations,’ is precisely what was needed to supplement content for this fall’s Alexander Technique class. Where are the joints, how do they work, and how can we restore their full mobility? Questions for me and the students to explore.

And the first stop on that journey? Finding head on spine and moving from this primary joint. The head leads and the body follows, or, as Barbara Conable specified in How to Learn the Alexander Technique, ‘the head leads and the spine follows in sequence.‘ Watch a cat get up from lying down. You will most certainly see a demonstration of head leading, what Mr. Alexander termed Primary Control or primary movement. And with ease at the joints comes vital expression of body and self.

Hessel sought to convey this dual understanding of jointed-ness with her use of the word ‘articulate,’ as ‘having to do with being jointed,’ and also, ‘skillful, fluent self-expression.’ We only move at joints. The articulate body is a physical structure able to move easily and fluently and expressively. Here’s to articulation!

Tempo

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thanks to pixabay

Adagio. Slow. Chesapeake Bay Alexander Technique Teacher Training mornings always began leisurely, with students working in pairs or small groups.  Our director, Robin Gilmore, a dancer with a signature kinetic energy, would call out, ‘Good use does not have to mean slow use!’ But, a slow pace can be a good choice, as it has been for me this January.

Andante. In-between. This tempo is best described as a walking pace, a steady stroll that gets the heart pumping. Not-too-fast, not-too-slow. It’s the pace of my daily neighborhood jaunt.

Allegro. Fast. Susan Petry, another dancer in my life, mixes up tempos in her choreography; fast and furious dancing with an adagio accompaniment or vice versa. If I could simplify her body of work with just one word, it would be ‘playful.’

And this is the invitation:  let’s play with tempo in our lives.  Mix and match adagio, andante, allegro. Or choose a tempo for your day and observe its effects on your Self. The practice of the Alexander Technique is all about choice in the moment.

Make a dance of the daily!