AmSAT Annual Conference
Schedule of Events
Saturday, June 25, 2022 (all times are Eastern):
Misako Tsuchiya Presents: Be Like Water, Move like Water: Achieving Natural Movement Through Alexander Technique, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong
Misako Tsuchiya will teach and guide participants in their understanding and practice of the Alexander Technique along with the principles and wisdom of Tai Chi and Qi Gong. She incorporates her knowledge of Tai Chi as an internal martial art and Qi Gong as an ancient practice that dates back to over 4,000 years through her years of study with her Sifu Marvin Quon who has influenced her as a teacher and practitioner. Marvin Quon’s intensive and dedicated way of analyzing and understanding Tai Chi concepts are infused with scientific and deeper principles as to what is anatomically happening in the body, how to develop our center and the ways we can use Tai Chi and Qi Gong. Through this workshop, participants will learn how to incorporate Tai Chi and Qi Gong as complements to Alexander Technique and how their purpose is the same so that they can strengthen their natural movement and their understanding of the practices in order to achieve overall good health. In this workshop, Misako will introduce gentle and simple exercises and it is open to any and all participants.
Eve Bernfeld, Alice Olsher, and Ruth Rootberg present Eutokia: Sharing Birth Stories
Many teachers already work with expectant parents, and others wonder how to get started. This workshop invites anyone interested to share your personal birth story. It’s a great way to bring heart and sensitivity to your work.
Everyone has a birth story—did your mother tell you yours? If you have children, you have stories of their birth. Some of you may have attended a birth. Who have you shared that story with? Some births take a short time, others long. Some births are with medication, some not, some with surgery, others not. And some births have been supported by the Alexander Technique, because you were already a teacher, or you were taking lessons while expecting. Come share your story, for the sake of telling it, and for the group to share insights into how the Alexander Technique helped, will help, or could have helped.
Sharing birth stories was one of the first parts of the 30-hour Eutokia—good birth—curriculum developed by Ilana Machover, author of the Alexander Technique Birth Book. The workshop facilitators present this opportunity to share stories for its independent value, and also to take the temperature of interest in a US-side course. All are welcome!
Keynote Presentation: Finding Your Voice & Freeing Your Voice with Pyeng Threadgill
So often people have preconceived ideas about who is and isn’t entitled to sing. “Talented”, “trained” or “professional” singers are allowed to sing and others aren’t (or should sing quietly in the back). This can often affect people’s thinking and resulting constriction when using the voice. When singing is approached with a sense of joy and play there is often a much quicker route to accessing vocal freedom and ease as well as enjoyment. Connect to the flow of sound and vibration through straightforward vocal exercises to open your voice and move energy and emotion through your body.
Rachel Bernsen: Refining Leg Directions and Support.
This experiential workshop will augment Alexander directions, deepening our understanding of how our legs connect into our pelvis and spine, and release into movement.
Through application, anatomical images and discussion this workshop will offer a deeper investigation of direction, connection and release of the legs, pelvis and spine. The release of the legs, especially the inner legs and groin, are crucial to allowing the back to widen and release back and up.
The movement explorations can be done on your own at home and with your students. This class offers a hybridized approach to Alexander Technique, drawing upon my study of many movement modalities over thirty years as a modern dancer and student of movement, including Iyengar yoga, Feldenkrais, Body-Mind Centering, and Contact Improvisation.
Please have a mat or rug to lie down on, a yoga belt (or bathrobe tie or equivalent that’s not stretchy), and a yoga block (or something firm and equivalent width but lightweight like a folded towel). No previous experience is necessary. All are welcome.
Alice Olsher and Paula Negrelli: Alexander Work in a Clinical Intensive Outpatient Patient Setting
In this workshop we will explain the application of the Alexander Technique in a health care setting. The patients are invited participants that attend an intensive outpatient program with a psychosocial multidisciplinary approach. The Alexander Technique is part of the treatments offered to help patients to recover, heal, increase functioning in activities of daily living, and possibly return to work. We will talk about the different programs and the multidisciplinary psychosocial approach to healing and recovery.
We will include a PowerPoint presentation and will leave time for questions and comments and to hear other teachers’ experiences
Molly Johnson: Directing to Establish How Elements Relate to Each Other
In this participatory workshop, Molly will guide participants through sending directions in a number of ways. We will explore how to add clarity to how we think of the elements we are directing. We will also work on ways to think about how the elements involved in directing (e.g. body parts or objects or people we are interacting with) relate to each other. The aim of the workshop is to help participants develop a clearer practice of directing
Kitty Breen: The Educated Back™ An Alexander Understanding of Back Pain and How to Teach to It
In this participatory online workshop, Kitty Breen will share her understanding of how the stimulus/response pattern of back pain interferes with proper functioning of the Primary Control, and creates a continuous stimulus/response pattern in its own right that causes back pain. This understanding, used as a working theory through which to teach, allows you to gain an advanced, uniquely Alexander framework through which to understand back pain and help students stop "doing the cycle,” re-engage proper functioning of the Primary Control (so the right thing starts to do itself again), and gain lasting freedom from both acute and chronic pain. This philosophical understanding also explains why other established back pain interventions work (when they do) and why they don’t (when they don’t) and why Alexander is often able to offer complete lasting recovery when other modalities fail.
The framework becomes a compass enabling an obvious path forward. We will then explore practical techniques, tips and activities Kitty developed for her Educated Back curriculum, following this path. These are all pure outgrowths of Alexander’s principles and procedures, created to reverse the interference of and re-engage proper functioning of the Primary Control. These techniques get to the root of most students' problem; time and again they have been shown to quickly reverse back pain, and deepen and accelerate recovery (usually for good). While Alexander teachers often say our work is preventative, many of these activities also reverse acute back pain.
Participants are asked to please have a comfortable surface to lie on, books for the head, a chair and a standard size pillow (or any pillow will do).
Diane Gaary: The Tongue is the Front of the Throat, and Other Surprising Realizations that Affect our Neck and Voice Use
This workshop is an introduction to the vocal tract as it pertains to voice and neck use. A brief overview will use pictures and kinesthetic cues to map the anatomy and physiology of a few key structures of the throat from soft palate and larynx to upper ribs. The workshop will provide experiential explorations of how awareness and direction of these structures affect voice, neck, and overall use of the self. If there is time, we will conclude with brainstorming on how these concepts can be included in lessons and in work with your own use. The goal of this workshop is to have participants leave with the thought, “ Wow, this is cool. I have a 3D neck and that makes a difference!”
Lena Hart: How to Help Students Practice When They Are Away from You.
Our students feel so wonderful when they are with us — but just keep forgetting to practice! How can we help them remember? How can we help them feel that they are making progress? Utilizing the skills of the Alexander Technique and the recipes as outlined by B. J. Fogg in his book Tiny Habits, a personalized practice plan can be developed for each student. This workshop will detail not only how, but give detailed examples with past and present students. The workshop also welcomes other ideas of practice from participants!
4:00 Table Topics Discussion Groups (limited to 20 each, first-come-first-served)
Developmental Perspectives in Teaching and Learning the Alexander Technique - led by Luc Vanier
Using Our Wealth of Knowledge: Bringing other modalities and influences into our teaching. A discussion of the myriad different approaches to doing so, its benefits and challenges - led by Rachel Bernsen
The Teacher’s Voice Use in a Lesson - led by Diane Gaary
Eutokia: AT for Pregnancy and Childbirth and the Way Forward - led by Eve Bernfeld, Alice Olsher, and Ruth Rootberg
Getting Stuff Done, Well - led by members of the Rules and Bylaws Committee
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in AmSAT - led by Renee Schneider and Jeanette Payne
How Can We Help Students with Chronic Pain? - led by Emily Faulkner
Sunday, June 26 (all times are Eastern)
Phyllis Richmond: The Supported Arm
An elastic web of fascia encloses and supports the entire body. This movement workshop will explore that connection from the fingers through the arms and down the back to the feet through a variety of guided experiences on the floor, sitting, standing, using a chair, and perhaps a wall, if you’ve got one handy. Please arrange your device so you can adjust it as we proceed, so I can see you in all positions.
Lisa First: Teaching the Alexander Technique to Dancers: from Classical Ballet to the "Inspire Inclusion" Dance Program for Disabled Young Adults (and Everything in Between!)
Lisa First will share her ideas and expertise working with dancers of all varieties. She has danced since she was a teenager and was first introduced to the Alexander Technique through dance when she was sixteen at the University of North Carolina Charlotte.
Lisa has had Multiple Sclerosis for forty years and has practical and personal perspectives to share about the Alexander Technique for dancers of all abilities/disabilities, including how to improve your private and group practice and personal skills when working with dance and movement artists.
F. M. Alexander Memorial Lecture: Ruth Kilroy - A Personal Quest to Deepen and Clarify My Understanding of Alexander's Principles
Join us to hear Ruth speak about her personal quest to deepen and clarify her understanding of Alexander’s principles. Inspired by years of working with teachers and studying books on the Alexander Technique by FM and others, Ruth shares how they assisted her general growth, understanding, and teaching.
Ruth Rootberg: What Happens to Your Neck When Your Hands Come to Your Head?
Playing some instruments, exercises to release the jaw, eating food, grooming, adjusting eyeglasses, self-comfort—there are so many instances in which the hands come to the head. Have you ever noticed that sometimes, maybe often, the head and neck “help out” by coming to the hands, sadly adding neck tension to the action? It’s pretty common!
In this experiential workshop, you, the participants, will build a list of the many of the activities you do that bring one or both hands to any part of the head. You’ll mime them while sitting, noticing your habits, then lie down to explore the movements while the head is supported by gravity. Although the focus will be on the head/neck relation, there will be an indirect effect on the shoulders. You’ll come to sitting and repeat the actions to see if anything has changed, and then we’ll discuss what happened. All levels of experience are welcome!
Luc Vanier: Antagonistic Action as Experienced in the Feet and Legs
As we direct the head, we impact the use of the feet, legs and lower back. Through various spiraling activities, the workshop will allow participants to experience and redirect habits first hand supported by inhibition, and direction.
We will use the Framework for Integration language of primary and secondary activity as well as reset and engagement. The participant will need to wear comfortable socks or be barefooted on a comfortable surface with some space to stand, sit and lie down. We will also use a physio ball (or a foam roller on a chair if that works better for you).
Participants will learn to recognize various patterns of interference in the feet and legs and will have enough information to redirect the direction of activity while sitting, or walking.
Ann Rodiger: Spatial Thinking and Awareness
Explore your spatial thinking and embodiment of space as you apply your Alexander directions. This exploration will inform you of your personal and cultural spatial preferences as you relate to your inner sensory experiences as well as your external environment. You will also experience how your full sensory field of awareness contributes to your awareness of yourself, your use, and your interactions with others.
Jennifer Sielicki: Head Forward and Up - The Direction of Head Forward and Up and Its Influence on the Primary Connection and Movement.
Head forward and up can be an elusive direction for beginners. In this session, we will be going through one of the direction exercises I created for my students. It assists with sensory appreciation of the direction of head forward and up and its implication for the primary connection and movement.
Jane Dorlester: Bereavement and the Application of Alexander Technique in a Psychotherapy Session
Mourners as a group commonly identify with the physical ailments of the deceased but are often unaware of this unconscious process. For example, someone who had the loss of a loved one from a brain aneurysm might have headaches, or one grieving for someone who died of lung cancer might experience shortness of breath. Alexander Technique, like psychotherapy, serves as a vehicle to make the unconscious conscious. Alexander Technique brings the bereaved attention/awareness to how their emotions are held and expressed in their postures. While traditional psychotherapy can help the mourner verbalize and gain insight into how this loss might trigger memory of past losses, Alexander Technique can be used on the somatic level to provide additional ways to increase awareness and integrate change. Alexander Technique's gentle release work including using the whispered 'Ah' not only provides comfort for the bereaved but also teaches them skills to use concepts of Direction to release habitual patterns and possibly inhibit them.
In this workshop, using dyadic learning from a sensorimotor, somatic perspective, case illustrations will demonstrate how Alexander Technique can be a valuable adjunct to the psychotherapy process. A guided meditation, which will include a litany of Alexander Technique verbal directions, will take participants on their own Bereavement Healing Journey, which could help them in turn guide their students in dealing with their grief.
Matthew Dubroff: The Psycho-physical Actor
This workshop is a practical exploration of utilizing the Alexander Technique as a foundation for the actor's work. Participants will employ principles of the Alexander Technique as they explore basic actor activities connected to speech, movement, and the primary driving forces behind actors' "beats". Preliminary character analysis connected to concepts of desire, will, and moral stance will also be engaged. No acting skill or experience is required. If a participant wishes, they may come prepared with between 1 and 3 lines of memorized text to use as part of the workshop activities. Otherwise, simple texts will be provided.
The primary activity of this workshop will focus on "The Sequence." This is a series of activities that Dubroff has developed in his years as a director, performer, and teacher in the theatre. "The Sequence" is a collection of cumulative activities that connect to principles of the Alexander Technique including use, awareness, inhibition, and direction. From abstract explorations of the activities, we build up to concrete choices of expression. The results of following "The Sequence" are effective, dynamic, and exciting modes of expression.
While this will be an online workshop, participants should be able to move around in their own space and make loud noises as needed.
4:00 Table Topics Discussion Groups (limited to 20 each, first-come-first-served)
Treasures of the AmSAT Website: Update your “Find a teacher" profile, Finding hidden gems in the archives, Starting an online reading or special-interest group, and other topics - led by members of the Membership Committee