“Pedro de Alcantara, an Alexander Technique teacher in Paris, France, talks with Robert Rickover about his concept, the “Simplified Skeleton”, the basis of what have come to be called “Neutral Directions”.”
Pedro: “When most people talk, they move their heads and their necks besides from gesticulating and moving their arms, legs and body. They nod. They say something and the head goes up and down. There are at least three possibilities. You can train yourself to talk without actually moving the skull, where the jaw, tongue, lips, vocal chords, and diaphragm move but the skull stays where it is. Many good singers, actors, politicians, preachers know how to do that. It is very convincing when a speaker can talk without moving the skull. It lends a certain authority to the speaker. It also changes the tone of voice and the timber of the voice.
“Then you can choose to move your skull on the joint between the spine and the skull. You can nod the head a bit but the neck is not affected. You nod with the head, not the neck. Then you can catch yourself moving your neck in space, moving it forward and down. Once you feel the distinction between the three things, they are very different ways of speaking. If you often talk moving your neck and you train yourself to talk without moving your neck, you’ll become a different preacher, speaker, singer, actor. A different set of emotions.”
“Practice talking without moving your neck or watch how people talk on TV. Watch the movie Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? And you’ll see these two great actors, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, they talk without moving their skulls. They show strong emotions without nodding with the neck and the emotion and action is more condensed on account of it. If you keep your neck in place with the spine, everything changes — the voice, the emotion, the communication, the force, the personality.”
“Direction works best when it is multi-media, when you use words, thoughts, images, sensations, trigger, symbols, anecdotes, haikus. In that song and dance of directions, you find the one that suits you and gives you that stable neck. You say to yourself, my emotions flow through me to my listeners, but my neck stays.”
Robert: “In my experience, the people to watch are successful politicians. They generally don’t give their necks away. You don’t get elected if you are constantly giving your neck away.”
In this interview, Pedro says: “The Alexander Technique is a way of solving a problem by putting the problem aside and working on yourself instead, focusing on yourself, calming yourself, and opening up your mind. If you do that, most problems disappear.”