Monday, 20 June 2011

AT in the Modern World

Oh dear! One of my worst fears about the Internet's effect on AT is coming true! I have today followed a link tweeted by Robert Rickover (@bodylearning) which took me to a YouTube video in which Pop music backing singer Chyna Whyne was demonstrating to a bunch of eager "thirty-somethings" how to Walk in Stilettos.

(Youtube link updated August 2012)
If one of my pupils asked me for advice on how to walk in stilettos it would be very simple: DON'T!

Chyna is a STAT-registered AT teacher and, searching the Web for references to her AT work, it appears she runs a successful business "educating" women on how to use stilettos in a way that slightly mitigates their crippling effect on the wearer.

Now I can hear some of my readers shouting at the screen "Get real Jeff, this is the MODERN world. Women wear fashionable shoes: period!" OK fair enough BUT should the label "Alexander Technique" be included in the online promotion of this seemingly end-gaining way of teaching it? Maybe a 20 minute video doesn't do justice to the way Ms Whyne runs her workshop but I'm guessing that not much mention of inhibition and semi-supine are made! I know that if I donned a pair of said fashion accessory and wiggled my booty in a style demonstrated at the end of the video, not only would my onlookers not be wowed but they would probably laugh me all the way out of the fracture clinic.

So what else is the Internet being (mis)used for in relation to AT?

How about remote AT lessons ON SKYPE!! I kid you not. This seems to be be a growing trend in the USA and I'm dismayed to see Leland Vall (@freeyourneck) offering this dubious (or should I say ludicrous) service - see I understand that there is a growing lobby of AmSAT teachers forming a group opposed to this "development".

Now I admire Leland and I regularly follow his blog and we are Twitter buddies BUT COME ON MATE... where is the hands-on in a Skype lesson? How can you tell if a pupil has actually understood a word that you've said? In my experience most novice AT pupils are very good at holding themselves in an "alexandriod" position and fooling themselves they are thereby "doing AT".. WRONG! How do you manage a Skype session to ensure this isn't happening...?

Now Charlotte I want you to release your neck higher than you can feel. Send me a text message when you've released your neck.

All joking aside, I have nothing against AT teachers finding new and innovative ways of teaching the technique and using all the modern wonders of social networking and mass-communication to promote it. I equally admire those who have the business acumen to make a few extra shekels using new media. BUT... its virtually impossible to regulate the content of online promotional material so when a respected (ie qualified and licensed) AT professional presents a cut-down, half-baked AT solution on the Net, what other choice has a member of the public got other than to think "Ah, so that's what the Alexander Technique is about!

Views expressed in this post are MY personal opinions and do not necessarily represent the views of ANY official Alexander Technique organisation. If you disagree with me or have your own views then please add a comment below. To reduce spam I am personally authorising all comments prior to publication but rest assured that I am happy to publish all relevant comments.