In his lectures Moshé Feldenkrais liked to build a good bit of mystery around his teachings.
And I have to admit that I’ve always liked the mystery. The promise of open-endedness, the lack of fixed limits. The idea that there’s room for creativity, discovery, and that there’s always more to find, to explore, and to harness.
I approached studying Moshé Feldenkrais’s work the way I did practice skateboarding. The way probably everyone who loves skateboarding does practice skateboarding. Rodney Mullen explains it very well.
The microscope did not kill the mystery of the things that are too small to see with the bare eye. Instead it enabled us to peek into the world on a different scale. Moshé Feldenkrais invented the microscope of movement. The movement sequences themselves, and the quality of conduct.
A scene from the Amherst recordings comes to mind:
Moshé Feldenkrais was teaching to a group of something like 200 students, walked them through one of his marvellous movement sequences, when he strolled by Anat Baniel. In that scene Anat was rocking back and forth on her belly like a soldier on duty, a gymnast doing a workout, and every few seconds she stopped and was looking at Moshé Feldenkrais with a face as if she would ask, “Am I doing it right? Do you approve of my performance?” And Moshé just kept standing there, staring at her, and said nothing to her. Then he walked on.
At first I could’t make sense of that scene either. It’s like watching a feature film but without the ending. This scene stuck in my head like a rawlplug in a wall.
In my own research, in my own classes, I experimented with both: intervening and not intervening. As I had the good fortune to follow the progress of some of my students for years I was able to find some answers to these questions: Is there something like self-calibration? Can there be improvement without direct outside intervention in the form of correction, scolding or encouragement? Should I intervene? And if, how much, when, and for how long?