This older gentleman is pretty spiffy. He’s probably just out taking a work break, maybe just walked the dog and has some time left to read the front page of the newspaper. He’s certainly dressed as if he were going to the most important business meeting of his life.
But you would be hard pressed to find a photo of him in anything but a full (often) 3 piece suit with tie, spats and the quiet demeanor of someone who has spent a lot of time thinking about posture, efficiency of movement and an economy of effort.
It is safe to say that this guy – F.M. Alexander contributed to the world some 100 years ago a brilliant assessment of how posture and freedom in movement can be improved in these three key ways:
1) Be quiet (no exclamation point here)
2) Believe and operate in a way that your head governs the relationship between your whole spine starting with your neck spine.
3) Be aware of what you are doing while moving, dancing, playing an instrument, bending down – basically everything. Can you remove some tension?
I remember when posture was all about ‘straightness’. From the age of 8 on, my ballet training singularly informed my view regarding posture. Not that I was aware of this at the time. I was just mimicking my teacher, other students and ‘trying hard’ to look pulled up (as I was constantly being told).
The conundrum of ‘pulled up’ is easily explained in the use of the word pulled: it is a word that conjures great doing, muscular effort and even strain. Given that, what is the reference point for good posture? As I, and my students have learned it is more about removing something than adding something.
And that thing is unneeded muscular tone.
But the how to do that is a surprisingly simple yet challenging process of realizing the strength of our habits and the resistance to change. Sound familiar?
Alexander’s discovery illuminated to the world that there are scientific tools that can be learned to move through life by responding (change, using your brain as a guide) as opposed to reacting (using your habit as a guide).
What do you notice about FM’s ‘posture’? I’m seeing someone who is sitting with a minimum of effort, yet fully upright, even in his mid 60’s.
Interested in learning how he got this way? Watch for my upcoming video explaining more about all this.
Happy Dancing! If you know other dancers who may benefit from reading my blog, please forward.
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