As Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano has it:
"The Church says: The body is a sin.
Science says: The body is a machine.
Advertising says: The body is a business.
The body says: I am a fiesta."
As Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano has it:
"The Church says: The body is a sin.
Science says: The body is a machine.
Advertising says: The body is a business.
The body says: I am a fiesta."
I hope this finds you very well as we move into winter. Although the world often seems to be coming undone these days, I find consolation and inspiration by looking right around me. Every day, New York City demonstrates that people actually do know how to live together, harmoniously. Friends, family, and the wonderful students I’m privileged to interact with provide reason to imagine that brighter days are possible. There is beauty every day on this most generous planet.
Living and moving with awareness, in accordance with our body's inherent design, versus unconsciously repeating patterns that pain or restrict us, is the heart of the Alexander Technique. It’s an invaluable tool in moving through life with ease and support, with more active choice about how things play out. Here at the start of my 31st year of teaching, I’m still enthused to be sharing this work. I love finding ways to adapt it to the particular needs of individuals and groups. Below is information on various study options. And, an update on Inspiration in the Aegean workshop, held on Folegandros Island, Greece.
Private Alexander Lessons. Manhattan and Shelter Island, NY. Alexander Technique is traditionally taught one on one, and is a very effective approach to more vibrant and easeful embodiment. If you’re interested or have questions about private study, please contact me directly.
A Workshop in your Locale. Throughout my teaching career, I’ve traveled and taught in a multitude of venues and locations around the world. I love adapting workshops for groups with a specific focus – be it performing artists, visual and crafts artists, office or work environment, health, wellness and fitness orientation, etc. Intensive workshops are very impactful and can launch, renew, or deepen a wonderful orientation towards fuller embodiment in daily life. Please be in touch if you'd like to arrange a workshop.
Performing Arts and the Alexander Technique. January ’19 begins my 12th year on faculty at the William Esper Acting Studio, NYC. The Esper Studio consistently attracts wonderful people from all around the world. I value the opportunity it provides – a full two years to engage with students who are immersed in an artistic training. The extended time allows deep, experiential learning – integrating awareness, ease and readiness into one’s artistic practice.
Inspiration in the Aegean update. In June, 2017, I revived a workshop I offered annually in the Greek Islands from 1996 to 2003. I taught another installment this past June, 2018. Both recent workshops were very successful. We all left the beautiful Greek island of Folegandros ebullient and inspired.
“You will feel like you are creating a myth of your very own.” -2018 workshop participant
Inspiration in the Aegean workshop combines ancient Greek mythology, literature and visual art in combination with the Alexander Technique and movement improvisation. It is a site specific endeavor – a resonation with the stunningly beautiful island of Folegandros and her people.
Greece Workshop Focus and Content
Preparing to teach the workshop is a divine opportunity for me to delve deeply into archetype and the body, into landscapes both internal and external – contemplating what it means to be human, throughout time. Developing processes that promote a sense of personal, embodied humanity – responsive to imagination, environment, time, art and ensemble behavior is a primary focus of my life’s work. It’s been deeply gratifying to realize this on sublime Folegandros, with a fantastic mix of people from around the globe, the Aegean Sea magically surrounding us.
In the Folegandros workshop, body and imagination awaken to stories and images of ancient Greece which humans have engaged with for thousands of years. It’s a direct, archetypal link through time to today’s world. Alexander Technique aims for a finely tuned sensorial, kinetic awareness, facilitating responsiveness in action while working elegantly with our inherent design. In bringing these elements together with the marvelous environment of Folegandros island – something insightful, magical and synergistic consistently happens.
The ancient stories, art, and archetypes have an intrinsic, timeless connection to our planet. Thus, I see the Folegandros project in large part as an endeavor to encourage creative human engagement in support of a sustainable planet. It’s a radiant opportunity to share a beloved locale, ideas, and art that have great personal meaning for me with wonderful groups of students. I’m excited to continue.
The website is updated to include new photos & comments from 2018 workshop participants.
The next installment of Inspiration in the Aegean is June 2020.
PLAN AHEAD! Hopefully, this time frame gives those folks who wish to participate plenty of time to plan ahead and make it happen. The workshop sold out very quickly these past two years, with a waiting list. So, if you're thinking of joining the 2020 workshop, please be in touch and let us know of your interest. No commitment necessary – this simply informs our planning efforts.
Sending best wishes for a beautiful, celebratory holiday season. May the LIGHT SHINE IN! Here’s to all of us caring for, defending and loving Planet Earth and her inhabitants. Happy 2019!
Cheers and peace,
Photo credits: Thanks to Lidia Sek (Esper Studio photo) and Reid Baker (Folegandros Workshop photos)
Greetings from Shelter Island, New York,
For the past two summers now, I’ve begun the season teaching a workshop on one of my favorite places on the planet – the Greek Cycladic island of Folegandros.
Inspiration in the Aegean is a labor of love, as it brings together elements I’ve been intrigued with for decades: the timeless, borderless archetypes that manifest so dramatically (and playfully) in ancient Greek mythology; ancient Greek art; poetry and text, both ancient, contemporary and everything in-between; Jungian approaches to archetype; movement/dance improvisation; the local and very distinctive physical environment and culture of Folegandros. And, the challenge of joyfully finding cohesion of these elements through the guiding tenets of the Alexander Technique. Letting these elements land in the body, seeing what it is to live an image or idea versus forcing it, inviting versus demanding change. Manifesting in the body’s intelligence. This is an overarching goal and a rather glorious, intoxicating puzzle!
To prepare for Inspiration in the Aegean, I spend months reading and poring over images and ideas – a great pleasure (I’m a geek who loves this stuff). Opening it out to share for six days with the workshop participants is inevitably a marvelous reveal. Students play an enormous part in educating their teachers to what their teaching is really about, and how best to convey and celebrate it. I am so grateful for all that participated this year. They were amazing, one and all, and altogether! I especially enjoyed seeing how much they took pleasure in meeting and being with each other – it was wonderful and deeply, soul satisfying.
In 2019, I will take a hiatus from the Greece project. However, assuming forces align to let it happen again – I’m planning on another installment of Inspiration in the Aegean in mid-June, 2020. If you’re interested in participating, please put it as a possibility in your longer timeline! And, please be in touch with us to let us know of your interest. The past two workshops have sold out very quickly, so planning ahead is worthwhile if you wish to attend.
Onward: After 30 years of teaching the Alexander Technique in a wide variety of settings, and because of how the world is these days, it’s all essentially about this for me:
What does it mean to be human on our beloved Planet Earth??
How do we fulfill and evolve this missive, our humanity? It seems that honing ourselves as sentient beings with the ability to imagine is essential. Landing at home in our bodies is essential. Our minds needn't be filled with habitual, distracting thoughts of endless, repeating tapes running ad nauseam in our heads. The mind can just as well serve awareness and an honoring of our timeless, human response-ability to safeguard our planet and live together. Oddly enough, just learning to use our own instrument, our body, as it is designed, to include it as a lively part of life’s daily equation – amps up our sense of humanity. Mister Alexander was on to something with this, and here’s to taking it further, as he indeed encouraged us to do.
I return to NYC this week to teach at the William Esper Acting Studio, and to start back up with my private practice. Please be in touch if you are interested in studying, or have any questions about what’s involved. Or, any responses to this missive! I’d love to hear from you.
All my best wishes for a beautiful autumn.
love and peace,
Happy Spring! Just a fast update on Inspiration in the Aegean. The workshop is full and I'm looking very forward to the cast of wonderful characters that will comprise the workshop participants. It won't be long before I'm sharing time on Folegandros with 18 beautiful people! Very exciting.
In the preparation stages, my mind is abuzz and my preparation time is filled with reading Greek mythology and essays about it, and investigating ancient Greek art. Ruminating on links between ancient works of art, and how we come to live in the body more fully, together with the challenges of being as human as possible in this day and age is an ongoing passion, and I continue to learn from it.
In the meantime, I'm enjoying finishing up the semester at the William Esper Acting Studio and working with private students here in NYC. A very busy time. And, working like mad in the flower garden on Shelter Island whenever I can.
One of our two tuition-free Greek students who was meant to attend this year's Inspiration in the Aegean Workshop is now unable to participate.
If you are a Greek citizen and would like to apply for this opening, please contact me soon via email. In your email, please introduce yourself with a brief description of what you're doing these days, etc. Include writing about why you are interested in participating in the workshop. It will be helpful for you to read the workshop description on the website, so that you know the orientation of the class, and if it suits your interests and needs.
Please note that this offer covers tuition only. All students must arrange and fund their own transportation and lodging.
If you know someone who qualifies for this opportunity and who might be interested, please let them know!
all the best,
Join me on Folegandros Island, Greece for INSPIRATION IN THE AEGEAN, June 2018. The workshop combines Alexander Technique, stories and imagery from ancient Greek mythology, movement improvisation, spoken language and hands-on guidance.
A little history…
My first visit to Greece, circa 1984, was a heart opening and sea change experience. I found a connection to Greece then which has only deepened through the years. My initial visit to Folegandros Island was with two friends in 1994. We read aloud stories from Greek mythology beside the dazzling Aegean Sea, an experience both dreamy and electrifying. Since then, I’ve returned many times to Folegandros. Between 1996 and 2003, I led seven Inspiration in the Aegean workshops on the island. I revived the workshop in June 2017.
The 2017 workshop…
The June 2017 workshop was, in part, my response to the turmoil and darkness happening in the world, an endeavor to create joyful community in an extraordinary part of our planet. I’m grateful to be able to report that our time together was indeed most uplifting. The mix of ages (23 to 79), artistic disciplines (visual and design artists, writers, performing artists and the healing arts), and origins (three continents) was inspiring. I’m moved to continue.
And this year...
The Alexander principles invite a platform of spaciousness, embodiment and ease from which to explore. On Folegandros, the island’s culture, along with its elemental landscape and sea, cultivate a pleasurable opening of heart, body and mind. Age-old stories and imagery stir the imagination, all combining to let something new occur. Add dance and movement, and a wide range of wonderful people, and you have something magical brewing.
A deliciously unpredictable ingredient is the particular mix of people that converge on the island to learn and play together for six days. This impromptu ensemble cultivates something much more than I alone could generate. These days it seems essential to make communities with joy and expansiveness that can fuel us to move forth enlivened and equipped with a newly informed perspective.
Please join me on Folegandros to study, explore and celebrate waking into greater awareness – unifying body, mind, environment, and imagination. I look forward to sharing timeless stories, pleasure in embodiment, and the culture of modern Greece with you. June 17th-22nd.
Visit the Registration page of our website for information about applying, rates, payment schedules, and cancellation policies.
We’re offering two tuition-free spaces for Greek citizens. If you are Greek and interested, please send a written statement introducing yourself, including why you wish to participate.
Due to the nature of the project, I must decide year by year about offering this workshop – I can’t assume it’s an annual event. The 2017 workshop was sold out in 3 days with a waiting list. So, if you’re interested in participating in 2018 – carpe diem! Now’s the time to begin planning your journey.
Reach out to us now via email by contacting our registrar, or myself. Please introduce yourself briefly in your email.
I hope this finds you very well and enjoying the last weeks of glorious summertime.
I've had a lovely, full summer. After finishing up the school year teaching at the William Esper Acting Studio, in mid-June I taught a workshop on the Greek island of Folegandros. Inspiration in the Aegean integrated elements from Alexander Technique, movement improvisation, and ancient Greek art and mythology – and it was a blast! It was a beautiful group of students from three continents, and spanning six decades – and we had an absolutely ecstatic time. Thus, I'm considering repeating this workshop in June of 2018. Updates on this soon.
Back in NYC in late June and July, I enjoyed working with students from around the world in the Summer Intensive Program at the Esper Studio and with private students in town.
Now, I’m loving having some relaxing, rejuvenating open days out on beautiful Shelter Island… and… HERE COMES THE FALL SEASON!
PRIVATE ALEXANDER LESSONS IN NYC THIS FALL:
My private lessons season begins the week of Sept 11th. That week, I'll be teaching on Sept 12th, 13th, and 14th (Tuesday-Thursday).
Following that week, my private teaching days will be Mondays, Tuesdays, and some Fridays.
If you wish to begin or resume lessons, please be in touch soon.
I offer discounted rates for a prepaid series of lessons. I also offer a limited number of artist discounts each week. Please contact me directly for more information.
The ability to be very alert and also calm and present at the same time is a vital ingredient in a creative, responsive life. The Alexander work continues to inspire me as a means towards this state of being and readiness.
If you have been considering taking lessons, or have friends that have been curious about studying Alexander – this is a good time to get started or to refer them! I look forward to meeting new students in the fall as well as welcoming back ongoing or former students.
all my best and hope to see you this season in NYC,
The 2017 workshop on Folegandros has come and gone. It was a beautiful, fulfilling experience and I'm still in a lilting state of gratitude.
I could not have wished for or dreamed up a more inquisitive, creative, thoughtful, spirited and willing group of students. All artists of varying mediums, with ages ranging from early 20's to late 70's and from far flung parts of the globe including Europe, South Africa, and both coasts and points in-between of the USA – we were an ecstatic and harmonious group. It was also quite wonderful to have two Greek members of the class.
I am ruminating now about the whole experience, as well as collecting photos and recollections from participants, and will post more soon. For now, I'll happily say it seems that the experiment worked, and we entered into a marvelous richness. I began personally with a months-long (continuation of life-long), deep delving into images and literature from ancient Greece. I pondered relationships between ancient stories and images, archetypes, poetry, human embodiment, Alexander Technique principles, environment (and oh my, what a glorious environment we had on Folegandros, and in our beautiful classroom, graciously donated to us by the town and people of Folegandros). I considered how to convey and manifest these relationships in human interaction, environmental awareness, and daily life and creative movement explorations. The ancient stories and images connect to nature so magnificently and specifically. Thus, time spent outside the classroom on the island was an inspiring continuation of our work. And, we all just went there together... it was a joy. Thank you, thank you, to all the participants.
A very important mentor and friend in my life, Paulus Berensohn (whom I met initially while teaching at the Penland School of Crafts) passed away just a couple of days before the workshop began. I knew Paulus was on his way for some time before that. In my heart and spirit I dedicated the workshop to Paulus and his lifetime work as an artist and Deep Ecologist. And, to his belief that we are all meant to behave artistically. Yes, we are. You blessed me, Paulus, by your presence on this planet. I shall continue attempting to spread the word.
I've had inquiries about whether I will teach this workshop again in 2018 or 2019. I'm considering it. If you are interested in future Greece workshops, let me know. And/or check back to my website! No doubt I'll always feel compelled to return to Greece – for as long as this body can carry me there. And there is great joy in sharing it with others.
I chose this marvelous drawing by Pablo Picasso, 1949, entitled Le Visage de la Paix (The Face of Peace) for several reasons. I love the combination of lightness and immediacy – it speaks to me of what Alexander Technique has brought into my life. It conveys the delight that I believe landing in an embodied moment can bring. And, right now, February 2017, a call to PEACE is essential.
All photos of flowers and Folegandros: Judith Grodowitz.
All photos of Judith Grodowitz: Reid S. Baker, photographer. www.reidsbaker.com
Website angel: Michelle Agresti. www.michelleagresti.com
Stay tuned for news on the Greece workshop, other workshops, and Alexander-related writings!