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From Stress to Freedom

with the Alexander Technique

 

Revised and re-issued in DVD World Format, Produced and Presented by Anthony Kingsley. Available from Alexander Books, Amazon, or www.qleap.co.uk, £15.99.

Review by Grant Dillon (first published in Statnews, January 2008).

 

From Stress to Freedom is an introductory DVD featuring Anthony Kingsley, and including Kathleen Ballard, the late Sir George Trevelyan, and Sue Thame. It is in two parts: Theory, and Applying the Principles. Part One, in 24 minutes, covers conscious control, the primary control, force of habit, false sensory awareness, and inhibition and directions. Sitting and standing and walking are briefly shown. In Part Two, 18 minutes, Kingsley demonstrates semi-supine, and sitting and standing.

 

With any visual resource on the Alexander Technique, a few questions arise for the teacher -does it represent the Technique fairly and clearly? How well does it utilise its visual medium? And would I recommend it to my pupils or students?

From Stress to Freedom does present the principles of the Technique with clarity, albeit briefly. The first part uses rural scenes of a river, followed by brief footage of F.M., a baby and a cheetah in full flight to demonstrate head leading and body following. Sue Thame contrasts balanced, flexed and extended states; her charts arenít presented clearly enough to illustrate what she says. Sir George Trevelyan is charming in his anecdote of F.M. mimicking his fencing with a pulled-back head. He also draws the valuable distinction between physiological and psychological inhibition. Sue Thame demonstrates briefly the anatomy of sitting, and Kingsley is shown giving table work.

In Part Two, Kingsley shows how to get into semi-supine and give directions, and talks about breathing. Sir George illustrates the non-doing of breathing in reciting a Shakespeare sonnet. Kingsley talks further about inhibiting and directing in the acts of standing and sitting, and Sir George quotes Alexander on the importance of thinking over doing.

An extra on the DVD is the extant five minutesí film of F.M., which is black and white, and silent. As always when I watch this, new questions arise -how many of us now would work so much with one hand on top of the pupilís head? What is he saying about his hands? In the whispered "Ah", why was I trained to smile, when F.M. does not? And what would a pupil make of this artefact?

There are two text pages of further information about Kingsley, with one line of contact information for STAT.

The copyright for the DVD is 1990; this seems to be a straight transfer from the original tape. The quality of filming, editing, sound, lighting and direction is professional, but pre-digital and not of broadcast quality, without the sharpness of image weíre now accustomed to.

I would comfortably recommend this as an adjunct to lessons for any pupil. And I wait, patiently, for someone to produce a more up-to-date and visually creative resource

© Grant Dillon 2008

 

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