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The Feldenkrais Method and Dance

By Nancy Galeota-Wozny

The slow, gentle, and graceful movements that comprise the Feldenkrais Method® have much to offer the dance world. Moshe Feldenkrais’ ties to dance date back to the 1940s in Israel when modern dancer and movement notator Noah Eshkol took an interest in his work. Eshkol recorded Feldenkrais’ innovative Awareness Through Movement® (ATM) lessons using Eshkol Wachman notation. Israeli dance therapists Leah Bartal and Nira Ne’man, authors of “The Metaphoric Body and Movement, Awareness and Creativity,” credit Feldenkrais for opening their minds to the understanding of body/mind interrelatedness. They write, “We were fascinated by the way he treated every lesson as one unit, working on one theme, exploring its many facets with inventive variations. We came out of these lessons with a new consciousness and a new concept of thinking and sensing body and mind.”

Feldenkrais® Trainer, dancer and Certified Movement Analyst, Donna Blank, conducted the first-ever study on the effect of ATM on dancers. One of the dancers summarizes her ATM experience, “I have become aware of my inborn but lost instinctive behavior. Freedom in all areas results from this. I start to respond at an intuitive level-open for learning and creative expression”
(Feldenkrais Journal #3). I had the privilege of being a participant in Blank’s landmark study and found my own work taking a radical departure from previous work. My qualitative range as a mover opened up ten-fold, expanding my palette of movement choices. Many of us felt we simply had more to work with. John Graham, one of the first dancers to study with Moshe Feldenkrais, speaks to this feeling of added dimension. He writes, “Dance was always there for me. Moshe made it more round, essential of itself.”

Today, dancers from varied backgrounds practice his work—including dancers from the worlds of ballet, ballroom, modern, contact improvisation, authentic movement and traditional dance forms. More and more academic dance programs are including the Feldenkrais Method in the curricula. Sylvie Fortin, a Professor of Dance at the University of Quebec at Montreal, finds the Method to be a key component in dance education. She writes, “The pedagogical strategies of the Feldenkrais Method (attending oneself slowly, gently, quietly and playfully) provided me with the non-mechanistic strategies I needed to repattern myself.…Our heightened sensibility has the potential to change the way we see the world around us and to render us more capable to act intentionally and effectively.”

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