Training Journal: Classes with Judy Leibowitz (Part 1)

 Judy Leibowitz at Juilliard in 1989

Judy Leibowitz at Juilliard in 1989

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.

You Can't Change What You Don't Know

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.

"Someone asked a question about the reliability of kinesthetic experience as feedback. Sensory experience was said to have some validity regarding past experience but that for delving into new territory it was totally unreliable. You most often don't know what you are doing until you experience something different.

"Next, we worked on "monkey." We took ourselves into monkey by leading with a hand gesture, a version which corresponds more clearly to everyday activities. In monkey, one should have the facility to be mobile at any time, so that it doesn't become a static position.

"What is important is being in the moment rather than trying to remember everything you hear. Judy expressed some caution about becoming compulsive in practicing the Technique for in that frame of mind, it could be counter-productive."


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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.