An Interview with Alexander Technique Teacher Pamela Anderson

by Brooke LIeb

Pamela Anderson was my second Alexander Teacher. I studied with her for about 2 years before entering ACAT’s Teacher Certification Program in 1987, when she began serving as Director of Training. I see her signature on my teaching certificate daily. Pamela just celebrated her 40th anniversary of teaching. Coincidentally, in a “six degrees of separation” fashion, I have been in dance class since this past summer with Pamela’s first teacher’s (Maya Clemes) daughter, who also knows Pamela. I had the chance to interview Pamela on this milestone anniversary.

Lieb: How did you learn about the Alexander Technique?

Anderson: I graduated from college with a degree in modern dance and psychology.  Although I was aware of the technique and had attended an introductory workshop, it wasn’t until one of my former dance classmates walked in for a drink at the restaurant where I worked and I saw her transformation, that the idea of studying the Technique became an imperative for me.  Her pronounced lordosis was gone as well as radiating from her was this easeful presence.

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Back in the Studio: Applying Alexander Technique in my return to dance

by Brooke Lieb

For many years, I found myself unable to find the motivation to exercise, whether it was yoga, strength training or cardio. I had also been thinking about revisiting modern jazz dance classes, in the Simonson Technique, which I had studied in high school and college. Within the past 5 or 6 years, I had even gone online and located beginning classes. For some reason, I couldn't overcome inertia so never got to a class.

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Training Journal: Classes with Judy Leibowitz (Part 1)

In this series, we will share excerpts from Idelle Packer's (ACAT, 1979) Training Journal, October 14, 1977 - Wednesday, December 13, 1978. The classes were taught by Judy Leibowitz, who was a founding member and the first Director of Training of ACAT from 1967 to 1981. Judy was the original Alexander Teacher in Juilliard's Acting Division, joining the program at its inception in 1968 by invitation from John Houseman. Judy taught in the Juilliard Acting Division until her death in 1991.

October 14, 1977:

"...a discussion about change. You can't change what you don't know. Two elements seem to be vital for making change. One is awareness of what it is you want to change and, secondly, the means or know-how to change. So these two elements make change a possibility and assure that we do not become victims of change.

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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Squatting... But Were Afraid to Ask

Judy Stern in Conversation with Tim Tucker

Tim Tucker:  Judy, what is squatting?  How would you define it?

Judy Stern:  The first question you’re asking is the most straightforward one, but as usual the answer isn’t quite so straightforward.  If I had to be glib about what I think squatting is I would say it’s a way for any human being to take themselves all the way down to the level of the ground by folding their joints…  we’re talking about hips, knees and ankles.

And it’s an activity that’s no longer used very much because of chairs having been introduced at some critical point in our evolution.  But there are cultures where people still squat in order to do many things, including eating.  And, the thing I’m most recently struck by in relation to squatting is that it’s something children do completely spontaneously; I watch my 18-month old granddaughter who is as comfortable squatting as she is standing up.

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7 Computer Posture Tips

by Mark Josefsberg

Tip #1.  Don’t slump, and don’t sit up straight.

Sitting up straight doesn’t work. You know cause you’ve tried it.

Forget all that “stomach in, chest out” “tuck your chin in” junk.

It might work—for a second. It adds unnecessary tension, and it’s unsustainable.

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Advice for a New Alexander Technique Teacher

Karen Krueger, ACAT ’10

1.  Trust your instincts.
Having completed a rigorous training course at ACAT, you are well-equipped to teach the Alexander Technique.  If your instinct suggests a particular approach with a student, or a particular insight that you think might be helpful, go with it, and see if it works.  If it doesn't, try something else. (See #2 and #3.)
2.  Throw out your agenda.

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Strategies for a Lie Down #1: Expand, like rising dough

by Brooke Lieb

During many Alexander lessons, part of the lesson is spent with the student resting on her or his back on a table as the teacher uses verbal guidance and hands-on assistance to help the student expand her or his back onto the table, release arms and legs away from the trunk, and ease mental and physical tension and stress.

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How to Stand with Poise and Ease, Part 2

by Witold Fitz-Simon

It’s Monday morning! (It's not, it's Thursday, but just imagine.) Hopefully, you’ve had a relaxing and restorative weekend, and you’ve arrived back at work refreshed and ready to meet the week. Those first few moments of the day can be great, can’t they? So much spring in your step before the weight of the day presses down on you.

But that weight of the day can sometimes feel like a real thing like someone is sneaking rocks into your pockets when you’re not looking, and by the end of the day your shoulders are hunched, your back is stooped and your neck aches. If only that freshness and lightness that comes after a good weekend (or, even better, a long vacation) could last!

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How To Stand With Poise and Ease, Part 1

by Witold Fitz-Simon

What if your body were a highly evolved and finely tuned organism that uses complex, dynamically responsive mechanisms to track a vast number of data inputs to adapt to a constantly shifting environment, and was able to accommodate multiple, often contradictory directives with subtlety and grace?

What if the aches and pains, the limitations and injuries that you experience as a result of your everyday life were not a result of the flawed workings of a crude machine, but were instead the result of all the things you do in a day that interfere with that complex coordination? What if, in order to stand tall and have good posture, to be grounded on your feet and light on your feet all at the same time, all you had to do was do less or let go of all the pushing and pulling, compressing and collapsing you do to yourself all day and allow that underlying coordination to reassert itself?

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Advice for a New Alexander Technique Teacher

Brooke Lieb, ACAT ’89

Remember to refer back to your student’s head/neck/back relationship frequently during the lesson. Help her understand that as she explores or attends to an activity, or observes more details about her specific habits, she can observe how this influences her head/neck/back. Conversely, as she returns to attend to her head/neck/back, she can observe how this influences the activity or pattern she was working with.

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The Alexander Technique Applied to Mindful Eating

by Brooke Lieb

In an effort to reduce stress, I have stopped watching the news. I skim the homepage of the Guardian and the NY Times to keep current, but otherwise, I rarely watch news on TV or online.

Instead, I watch British films and TV, comedies and crime dramas, home improvement shows and I am a huge fan of the Great British Baking Show.

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Musings on F. M. Alexander's Directions

by Brooke Lieb

One key aspect of using the directions in Alexander lessons is to understand how they are intended to work. Thinking is the essence of the Alexander Technique, and this thinking influences our whole being. We often observe the muscular changes, but changes occur at every level.

I am always refining, re-inventing, and re-imagining how these directions are meant to be applied, and I found an envelope where I jotted down my musings about this. I didn’t date the envelope, but I would bet good money it’s been sitting on my desk for somewhere between 5 and 8 years.
 

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