Group of Thirteen

Who were the first people to be trained by Moshe Feldenkrais?

Like much of Feldenkrais Method history, all the facts are known – to someone, somewhere. But who, and where?  Here is some information, which may or may not be fully correct.

First there was Mia Segal in the late 1950s.

From 1969 to 1971 he trained 13 others in Tel Aviv.

Alon Talmi (1914-2001, chemist)
Batya Fabian (studied the teaching of dancer Isidora Duncan)
Bruria Milo (died 2007)
Chava Shelhav (formerly gymnastics teacher, still active teaching)
Dvora Hasdai
Eli Wadler (still active teaching)
Fanny Loc (physiotherapist)
Gaby Yaron (musician and yoga teacher, died 1995)
Myriam Pfeffer (key to the establishment of Feldenkrais in France. Died 2015)
Ruthy Alon (still active teaching)
Dr Shlomo Bracha (psychiatrist)
Shlomo Efrat

Yochanan Rywerant (maths teacher, 1922-2010)

Seven out of those thirteen disciples participated in a “Group-13” reunion, in 2007, filmed by Sheth Haim Levy, whose film trailer can be seen on youtube.  These were Ruthy Alon, Shlomo Efrat, Dvora Hasdai, Yochanan Rywerant, Chava Shelhav, Eli Wadler and Bruria Milo, who passed away during the making of the film.
Some of the 14 were active in the internet age (Ruthy Alon, Eli Wadler, Chava Shelhav, Mia Segal), some left only a light digital trace (Yochanan Rywerant, Myriam Pfeffer), and others little or nothing at all (such as Efrat, Fabian, Hasdai, Milo, Bracha, Talmi, Yaron, Loc).

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Talmi Alon, Feldenkrais, Yochanan Rywerant, Chava Shelhav

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Feldenkrais, Batya Fabian, Chava Shelhav, Yochanan Rywerant, Myriam Pfeffer

 

Certain photographs available on Face Book (Child Space/Chava Shelhav) show that some were of a similar age as Moshe, such as Alon Talmi and Batya Fabian, meaning they predate the internet age.
It might be possible to learn more about these pioneers and their fascinating lives and legacies, but it may require a knowledge of Hebrew and time spent in paper archives.
It would be nice to know more about these remarkable people, and the remarkable times and experiences that they lived through.

Moshe Feldenkrais Biography & Biografie

A while back I wrote a post about the absence of biographical information on Moshe Feldenkrais.  Between his death in 1984 and the date of my post, no biography had yet been published.  As a student of the Feldenkrais Method, I felt a fear that Feldenkrais world was not creating a profile and persona for itself, commensurate to its importance, and its potential.

a life in movement

And then, like the mythical bus, two books came along together.  Different authors, different language even (german and english), different price.

der mensch

After a wait of 31 years, in September 2015 Mark Reese published (posthumously)  ‘A life in Movement’, volume 1 of 2, priced at 47$.  Christian Buckard’s book which appeared on the 14th September is called ‘Moshé Feldenkrais. Der Mensch hinter der Methode’ (‘Moshe Feldenkrais. The Man behind the Method’), priced at 24€.

I ordered Buckard’s book before it was published.  But not Reese’s, having been put off by price of shipping and the unknown customs charges.

Having read Buckard’s book, I was entranced by the facts, the information, the biography, the learning. I read it as fast as I could, turning to my german dictionary when necessary, although the style and vocabulary are accessible to any one with mid-level german language. I strongly recommend anyone who has ever studied german to read Buckhard’s accessible, readable, satisfying account of Feldenkrais’ origins, life experiences, and creation of the method which carries his name.

One final observation on the two books.  Buckard is a journalist; his book is available on Amazon, costs 24€ plus a few euro’s postage.  Reese was a Feldenkrais insider; his book is not available on Amazon, only through a specialist website, costs 47$, and at the time of my writing, 29.70$ to ship.

It makes me wonder whether the Feldenkrais world operates within a closed club, where materials are not placed in the most public, visible, accessible place; where the biggest sources of information are professional websites with locked member-only access areas; where the wonderful success of individual teachers across the world is not paralled by an over-arching, industry-wide strategy of marketing, to put the method onto a footing for future success.

The best marketing comes from people who are not within the sector, and from whom it can be hoped, but not guaranteed, that they will shed such a positive light on the method, as did Norman Doidge in his most recent book.

Brain's-Way-of-Healing_248w_new

I may have misinterpreted the situation, but this is my take on it so far.  Correct me if needs be with informative feedback.

The Mysterious Non-Biography of Moshe Feldenkrais

30 years after Moshe Feldenkrais’ (MF) death in 1984, Feldenkrais Method (FK) remains an obscure, poorly named, difficult to describe non-therapy-thingy, occasionally known as “Felden-what?“.  Searching the internet for background fails to turn up an in-depth and authoritative source of information on Moshe Feldenkrais the man.  

Meanwhile, last month I received a circular from a man researching a biography of Moshe Feldenkrais, asking for donations.  The biography-that-never-was, by Mark Reese, was halted by his death in 2006.  I know of no other existent or aspirant authoritative sources of information on Feldenkrais’ life.  

Does it really matter? I think ‘Yes’.

Firstly, on a personal level, if I understand the man, then I can begin to learn how he learnt, not just the product of his learning.

Secondly, FK has a wafer-thin public profile, which I think is due to a collective, industry wide, marketing impediment.  A biography would be an integral part of the marketing of FK.

In terms of what it means in the day to day, I made the following two observations.

Googling ‘Feldenkrais’ gets 840,000 hits; ‘Alexander technique‘ gets 7.7 million.  What is FK doing so ‘well’ to make it so marginal?

Students are the future of Feldenkrais…. but only when they become successful practitioners. Failing to transform students into an exponentially growing professional body could be the death of FK.  Don’t tell me it can’t happen – look at Eutony which surfaced, flourished in 2 or 3 key locations, and may soon become extinct.

MF was pioneering, brave & charismatic.   A biography would be a nice homage to the past, and a nice step into the future.