Practices of Freedom – The Feldenkrais Method & Creativity
Can you see that my lessons are [...] improvised, yet they are improvised with a method. [...] It's all the time improvisation but it has a method in it, therefore it's jazz. […] It's playing music on certain notes, making variations on a theme, and therefore it's a real learning. It's a lived thing. (Feldenkrais (1975: 155)
Our daily life appears to us so simple and direct that we often fail to see its richness and appreciate its beauty. Nonetheless, it is a refined choreography of behavioural coordination. (Maturana, and Varela 1992: 233)
The desire to develop this journal volume on Feldenkrais and creativity in collaboration with the IFF emerged from the symposium ‘(re)storing performance - The Feldenkrais Method and Creative Practice’, staged at Bath Spa University (UK) in 2015. The symposium brought together an international team of thirty artists, scholars and Feldenkrais practitioners to inquire, through practice and theoretical debate, the potential of the Feldenkrais Method® to facilitate creative practice within the performing arts, and of framing the Feldenkrais Method as creative practice per se. The symposium launched the Special Issue on Moshe Feldenkrais of the journal Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT), edited by Libby Worth and Dick McCaw, and aimed to articulate new processes, connections, limitations and emerging problems. How do we develop new, extended, practices through the meeting of Feldenkrais’ educational modalities and artistic discourses? What hybrid practices emerge through a collage or layering of these diverse practices? How do such meetings of processes clarify, expand, support or limit one another?
Moshe Feldenkrais repeatedly used artistic metaphors to describe his practices in non-dualist ways, such as ‘compositions’, ‘improvisation’, or the act of ‘dancing together’ (Goldfarb 1990) and activates reflective and transformative learning through embodied modalities, strategies and devices which can be called ‘choreographic’ (Kampe 2013, 2015, 2016). In similar ways Humberto Maturana and Francesco Varela described the human organic interaction with the world as ‘a structural dance in the choreography of coexistence’ (1992: 248). Current Enactivist transdisciplinary discourses on contemporary choreography, likewise, reframe the role of the choreographer as ‘engineering the determining conditions of personhood’ (Noë 2009), thus into close proximity of the organic educational concerns embedded in the Feldenkrais Method.
The title of this journal volume leans on philosopher Michel Foucault’s writings on ‘pratiques de liberte’ - practices of freedom (1997). Foucault proposes the possibility of a ‘conscious practice of freedom’ (1997: 284), as a ‘care of the self’ towards the freeing and producing of one's own subjectivity, by inventing alternative practices which embrace ‘complex relationships with others’ and ‘a way of caring for others’ (1997: 287). The title implies that the Feldenkrais Method and contemporary creative arts processes and research cultures share such ethical concern in the meeting of these diverse practices.