-bringing ideas to life







First Manchester Meeting


Thursday 11 October 2007 -AT Friends Workshop during Alexander Awareness Week, North West Teachers at the Quaker Meeting House, Manchester: by Lucy Ascham (first published in Statnews, January 2008).


During the summer Jamie MacDowell planted the idea of an AT Friends Workshop in Manchester in my mind: this germinated and came to flower during Alexander Awareness Week.  I started off with energy to plan and organise the workshop and got it off the ground with a date, a venue, an idea of Walking as a topic and had a meeting with a couple of teachers to look at a loose structure and possible content.  At this point other life events conspired around this date -and me, and I ran out of steam. Thanks to my NVC (Nonviolent Communication) training I noticed, said what I needed and made specific requests and found within the usual core group of teachers who attend monthly Meets, colleagues who were happy to give me and the event support.  It wasn’t necessary to do it all myself -I’m relieved to have let that habit go! 


Jan Dames and Patrick Gundry-White offered to share the leadership of the workshop itself.  June Gill sat at the door and took the donations of £10 for the two hour workshop and membership forms for AT Friends.  Kay Proudfoot bought and distributed biscuits and soft drinks and Charles Tully supplied some leaflets with general information about the Alexander work.  I gave a body-scan talk-through at the beginning of the evening to help people arrive and settle into themselves and the space, and spoke about the Friends and invited them to join up during the tea break.


Jan lead the first half with a group activity exploring walking.  "We don’t have an outboard motor, nor are we fitted with a rocket engine, so how do we start to walk?"  We discovered balance and the tipping point of chairs -then our own tipping point; there were many smiles and much laughter.  During the break I met a man who was ‘still’ puzzled by the Technique after 40 lessons and couldn’t say what he gets from it, and yet he’s hungry for more…  This reminds me of various stages of my own Alexander journey where my brain doesn’t have its usual understanding, yet my body-brain knows what it likes and brings me and others back for more.   I’m still fascinated by this experience of myself and it inspires me to share the on-going discoveries.   Another pupil told me that she was relieved to know she wasn’t the only person in Manchester doing this ‘strange and wonderful work’ and was pleased with the solidarity she found on that evening.


During the second half of the evening we were in small groups -six teachers, 2 trainees from MATTS and 17 members of the public -all talking, working and exploring the work.  Several of my pupils came and told me then and after how much they’d enjoyed the evening, a chance to meet other people engaged in this community and look forward to another opportunity in the New Year.  The evening also initiated many discussions and prompted work in future one-to-one lessons with my pupils.  We intend to hold AT Friends events 3 or 4 times a year as a focus for supporting the Alexander community and helping it to grow.


© Lucy Ascham November 2007




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