Join the Itcush Work Group
ITCUSH WORKGROUP 9:30-10:30 Thursday March 6th 2014
an informal, very low key group session, gradually moving through a series of Itcush Technique exercises, repeating the series and building on it in each time. A few people decided to start a work group to practise the Itcush work together, and Elaine Hanson offered to informally facilitate the group. Anyone can join – with no experience, minimal or lots.
The workgroup emerged from the Remembering Amelia Exhibition at the Vancouver Dance Centre last September, where workshops and discussion were held about the work of master teacher Amelia Itcush. The project is a Western Canadian travelling gathering in memory of Amelia, and offered exciting exchange about her work, led by Robin Poitras (artistic director of New Dance Horizons), Kana Nemoto, Ashley Johnson, and Jennifer Mascall.
For more info, or to check out the next gathering, coming up in Saskatoon in April: http://itcushmethod.wordpress.com/
A conversation with Elaine Hanson, facilitator of the Itcush workgroup.
Elaine Hanson (facilitator): “The work sessions focus on bringing the head, neck and spine into balance through the interplay of forces. Between the weight falling and the force rising is found a dynamic balance which assists in bringing head, neck and spine into healthier relationship. The result is an expansion and lifting of the chest which re-balances the head and neck. A sense of release, buoyancy and expansion follows.”
What’s your connection to master teacher Amelia Itcush?
We met in Saskatchewan in 1980, connected immediately and I soon began studies with her. I was instrumental in bringing her to the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts (1981,82), a setting where she was able to do some seminal integration of Mitzvah principles into dance – an important stage in her work.
It took many years for me – first to integrate Amelia’s principles into her own body, and second, (longer still!) for those release techniques to manifest themselves through my teaching. My years of teaching movement classes for the Youth Ballet was where my teaching gradually to grew to centre around what I’ve absorbed from the Itcush technique.
Can you talk about the work sessions you’ve begun facilitating at MascallDance, Thursday mornings?
It’s an informal, very low key work group, with plenty of room for questions. We’re gradually moving through a series of Itcush Technique exercises, repeating the series and building on it in each hour long session. A few of us just decided to begin a work group to practise the Itcush work together, and I offered to informally facilitate the group. Anyone can join – with no experience, minimal or lots.
The work sessions focus on bringing the head, neck and spine into balance through the interplay of forces. Between the weight falling and the force rising is found a dynamic balance which assists in bringing head, neck and spine into healthier relationship. The result is an expansion and lifting of the chest which re-balances the head and neck. A sense of release, buoyancy and expansion follows.
I thought I’d offer this short excerpt from the writing of one of Amelia’s main sources, Nehemia Cohen’s work. The reference to his work as “a discipline of non-interference” applies equally to Itcush technique.
“ Mitzvah” is a Yiddish word which means a deed when done, brings blessings to the doer.
M. Cohen-Nehemiah, the devisor of the Mitzvah Technique was also a researcher, a visionary and a prophet who sincerely believed he was delivering to the world, a technique which would heal man of so many of his aches and pains. Nehemia, originally trained in the Alexander followed by Feldenkrais techniques, deepened his understanding of the natural origins of human motion through observation in the field. He observed the movement of animals, of children and most importantly, of nomadic Bedouins. He observed the rippling bodies of itinerant Bedouins walking through the sandy deserts as well as the rippling motion of their spine while riding atop camels. And noted the direct correlation between the maintenance of health and the rippling motion of the spine. From such research arose the Mitzvah Technique, a discipline of non-interference.
From Nehemiah’s Mitzvah Technique and Mitzvah Exercise published in 2001 comes the following:
“Unknowingly, we all interfere with the operation of the Mitzvah Mechanism daily through our postural patterns of daily body misuse and slouching – which brings the back to hunch, the chest to collapse, the neck to shorten, and the head to retract backward and poke forward from its alignment with the spine – a physical act which we all exhibit daily. We and our children alike are creating a worldwide problem of daily body abuse. Its rippling corrective mechanism energizes the body with every move and step that we take, and sends rippling motion of healing power throughout the body to heal the body from many ailments – even so-called chronic disease. Our daily body abuse and its solution in the essential healing power of the rippling motion of the spine and its dynamic relationship, should be studied by scientists throughout the world. It is the rippling motion of the spine triggered by the interplay of physical forces between the pelvis and spine, and its natural healing power, that we use in our work to help people with postural and spinal problems and their many difficulties. The ripple of the spine – the ripple of life- is the big healing power in our body.”
Elaine Hanson is a West Coast transplant who grew very hardy by enduring 40 winters living and working on the Canadian Prairies. A member of Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers, then a founding member of Saskatchewan Dance Theatre, Elaine settled in the Qu’Appelle Valley. She collaborated with independent choreographers such as Robin Poitras, Marie Jose Chartier, Marnie Gladwell, Dianne Fraser, Tracey Houser and Connie Moker Wernikowski through New Dance Horizons in Regina, and was also associated with the Youth Ballet Company of Saskatchewan. With a B.A. in Theatre and a B.Ed in Arts Education, Elaine has taught dance and drama for University of Regina, Regina Public Schools, and was a Lead Artist for Learning Through The Arts, a teaching-through-the-arts curriculum program originating with the Royal Conservatory of Music.