Forward and Up

Several years of Alexander Technique have had a rather huge effect on my entire thinking. I recall the lessons, particularly the two I was fortunate to have with Pedro de Alcantara in Paris, with excitement as every one gave me a renewed understanding of my body and how it interacts with space. At the time when I started I had no physical problems or issues that might hinder my performance as a flautist or pianist, and I saw my lessons as pre-habilitation. I wanted to ensure my body would survive what I would expose it to as a musician. As the years of lessons continued it became far more than a method for ‘good use’; it’s philosophy fed into my outlook on all aspects of my life and perhaps I even became an Alexandroid for a time.

I saw a photograph of me from the time when Alexander Technique was a real priority. My posture was ‘good’, perhaps, but I looked incredibly unnatural. Looking at me now I can see that years without lessons have returned me to perhaps what I would have looked like without ever having had lessons, but some reiteration of the ‘forward and up’ internal monologue seem to help. The technique gave me a lasting awareness of how essential effective contact with one’s body is; channeling energy into the correct muscles at the right time and for the right length of effort. Seems rather contrived to think one can be in control of one’s body but I think it is more about awareness. Being in touch with what my body is doing seems to essential more than an attempt to control it.

This awareness makes me notice how others use their bodies and dance has recently become a real fascination. A fascination with how subtle the movements dancers make can really be, and how coordinated an ensemble of dancers can be is intriguing. There is inherently something musical about dance – yes, very obvious things (rhythm, pace, timing) and even dynamics (size of gestures) and perhaps even timbre (expression of a gesture). I am rather ignorant to dance but I am keen to discover more and explore how my own music can connect with movement. I can hear movement in my pieces and I often write gestures that come from imagining how the musical material will look rather than what it would sound like.

Now to find a choreographer…

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