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, 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 25, 1977: If you look at a drawing of a skeleton in profile, you can see the arm is hanging from the shoulder joint. The joint does not connect with the clavicle... The arms hang a little father out and lower than we usually think.
Many of the tensions we have are not purely physical, but emotional. [A trainee] felt immense emotional release by letting the tensions in the shoulders go. Alexander talks only about length and width. Judy uses the word "torso" since the body is three dimensional. Widening and lengthening together is an expanding into the whole body. [A trainee] said that he felt he can't change physically unless he changes emotionally. The process of giving up something we are familiar with, causes a feeling of mourning for what is being left behind. Directions can be given sequentially but what happens, happens all at once.
As an Alexander teacher, one would energize one's own arms. Relaxation is not a productive experience for anyone who uses the body. There is a difference between "release" and "relax".
IDELLE PACKER, MS, PT, mAmSAT, certified teacher of the Alexander Technique, has been creatively exploring its broad application for over 35 years. In her private practice, Body Sense, in Asheville, NC, she teaches the Alexander Technique in context of physical therapy assessment and rehabilitation. She authored the chapter on the Alexander Technique in Springer Publishers’ Encyclopedia of Complementary Health Practices (1999). Her current passion is Contact Improvisation, a somatic and athletic improvisation form, to which she has been joyfully integrating the principles of the Technique over the past fifteen years.