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Avi Granit Workshop held at the East Anglia Centre for Alexander Technique (EACAT) by Linsey Wass

10 Sep 2014 8:51 PM | Anonymous



ATE UK Avi Granit Workshop


At the end of June EACAT was privileged to host a workshop by the renowned Israeli  Alexander Technique teacher Avi  Granit.  Avi studied with Patrick Macdonald in London in the 1980s, completing an extra year after qualifying to further enrich his learning. He has a busy practice in Israel, but makes time to visit the UK to present workshops and give individual lessons. This was the first time he had ever been to Essex and he was accompanied by Jill Payne, an Alexander Teacher from Kent, who has worked extensively with him on his previous visits to England.


Avi’s audience spanned a wide range of experience, from students in their first year of training to Alexander Teachers of long standing. From the introductions onwards, everyone was equally attentive and involved. Avi has a dynamic teaching style, constantly questioning whether Directions are being given, and if so, whether they are the most appropriate to the situation. His theme for the morning was  ‘ Opposition ‘ and he first gave us a Master Class, using willing volunteers , to show us the concept in action. After this, he allowed time for us all to practice what we had been observing, and he and Jill circulated to give advice and Direction.


I made brief notes during the morning, but as always with AT you really had to be there!  As he brought a pupil out of a chair, Avi talked about the vital importance of the primary control, and the space that giving the ‘Neck free, head forward and up‘ Direction creates between the head and the body. He reminded us to consider all three dimensions of the body – not just length but width and depth too. Referring to his concept of ‘the three ups’ ( the up of the head, the up of the back and the up of anti-gravity ) he gave us a memorable analogy for the third ‘up’ as being like the bubbles in a bottle of fizzy water. Unscrewing the cap is like freeing the atlanto-occipital joint, allowing the bubbles to rise. Whichever way you tip the bottle the bubbles will continue to rise upwards.


Avi explained that thinking of parts of the body in opposition to each other was to him a more powerful Direction than simply thinking of them releasing away from each other. To demonstrate this he used hands on the back of a chair and introduced the idea of a hexagonal shape composed of the shoulder girdle as one side, the upper arms as two more, the lower arms and the space between the hands as the final three. By thinking of different sides of the hexagon in opposition to each other we were able to widen and lengthen much more than expected, especially with a partner putting hands on the arms and giving the same Direction. Avi told us that he usually practices this for about fifteen minutes a day and finds it to be endlessly useful to his own development.


Time just disappeared, and, before anyone was ready, we had reached the end of the morning. Avi finished with his mantra, which translated as ‘ Aim up, stay back in all circumstances’ .


During the afternoon, Avi gave individual lessons to some of the teachers and students and again they found his teaching fascinating and dynamic. For the rest of term the students at  the school  experimented with and discussed Avi’s ideas and everyone felt they had gained something valuable to add to their practice of AT. Avi hopes to visit the school again next year and I think we would all value the chance to meet this inspirational teacher again.

By Linsey Wass (Trainee Teacher at the East Anglia Centre for the Alexamder Technique)

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