About this blog

My name is Claire Happel, and I am a musician and dancer who just finished my three-year training with the Alex and Joan Murray in Urbana, Illinois.  I was first introduced to the Alexander Technique through many of the Murrays’ students – Becky Nettl-Fiol, Luc Vanier, Andrew McCann, Cindy Pipkin-Doyle, Lauren Hill – who taught or helped with classes at the University of Illinois.  In the ten years between my undergraduate years and starting the training course, I longed for information about their work because it so fascinatingly applied to what I did in music and dance.  As a student on the course and now humble, semi-symbolic assistant, I see the many visitors who come from across the country and world to work with them.  It has always seemed to me that documenting the work we do on the course and the topics Joan and Alex are interested in at the moment might be of interest to people not able to come to Urbana.  Hope you enjoy it!

Disclaimer: Please don’t judge based on writing style.  I want to get the information out but can’t spend hours of my day on it, so posts will be in a raw-ish format.


Temple Fay and the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential

The Murrays are always reading and working on some aspect of the Alexander Technique and its affiliated figures.  They are most well-known for their work with comparative neuroanatomist Raymond Dart, and years ago, he worked at the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential.  “The Institutes,” as the Murrays call it, put into practice the ideas of neurophysiologist Temple Fay, and lately Joan and Alex have been trying to find more information on him.

A short chapter pasted below is from Alex’s website, made by Anna Legrand – http://www.atanatomy.weebly.com.  In the chapter, Fay describes the many steps and abilities required to get to walking.

Temple Fay

The aspect of Fay’s work that Joan has been interested in lately is a position he used to help stroke patients unable to open their clasped hand.  It is the position of my right hand in the picture below (taken by Luc Vanier) – behind the back and looking away from the direction it is going.  The spiraled position I’m in is part of a sequence (more on this later!) we often do to try Alexander work on each other.  It involves parts of the “Dart Procedures” that Joan and Alex developed from his article, “The Postural Aspects of Malocclusion,” and their work with him at the Institutes.  There is tactile feedback at work when the hand is touching the back, with the whole self benefitting from that feedback.

Spiraled with back of hand on sacrum

As I post more things related to what we do on the course, you will see how integrated the “Dart Procedures” are to Alex and Joan’s work and how they use aspects of them to take people “up.”  The “Procedures” also give a clearer understanding of what the whole self is doing in all movements and what developmental patterns underlie those movements.

Last week, Margie Marrs found a book on Temple Fay, but if anyone else has information on him, everyone on the course would be glad to hear about it!

Addendum: Since writing this, Alex gave me a quote from Dart’s “An Anatomist’s Tribute to F.M. Alexander” in 1970 about Temple Fay: “Some clinicians, too, more especially in the neurological field, found evolutionary concepts inescapable. Amongst those in America, Temple Fay, Neurosurgeon at Temple University in Philadelphia, was outstanding. To him, in particular, the involuntary movements during seizures or epileptic fits were simply exhibiting ancestral and beneficial movement patterns reminiscent of piscine, amphibian or reptilian antiquity. He encouraged his physiotherapeutic and psychological conferences to learn form and utilize these and other basic sensory information and reflex symptoms, the procedures by whose employment one might prevent or even bodily eliminate such lacks in bodily control.”