Vi Cresswell

Teacher of the Alexander Technique & Movement Specialist in Dorset

About Me

As a young child I remember a moment when I experienced being separate. The feeling was visceral and dreadful. Up until then I must have assumed wholeness and being as one. Certainly the joy I felt in my younger years and the joy I feel now comes from feeling part of a whole, at one with everything.

This joy is most easily accessible to me when I’m dancing, moving and also coming to stillness; when I am absorbed in the subtle shifts of tone and quality within my body and reflecting the nature around me. Perhaps that’s why my whole life has been devoted to movement, contact and touch.

Communicating that joy to others has been a huge motivator as a teacher.

The 1960s & 70s

These years were full of movement. In dance I experienced classical, contemporary, African, folk dance and women’s Morris dancing (the energetic sort with trainers!). In school I loved sport and gymnastics where my fascination was with balance and control. I taught myself yoga from a book on dad’s bookshelf and a TV series. I would draw and describe the poses in a small red exercise book.

I was also drawn to massage as a natural expression of touch and taught myself from a wonderful little book. I gave massages to my parents who were chronic migraine sufferers, as well as to my sister and friends as birthday gifts and special treats.

I began physiotherapy training in Bristol. I wanted to to explore the dynamics of movement and its relevance to pain and injury. This was the option offered by my Grammar school in Cheltenham and it was not what I was looking for. I left within the first year. I did get a good grounding in anatomy though and the time in Bristol was far from wasted. I spent most days at the Dance Place in Bristol as a volunteer and immersed in Cunningham and African dance classes.

During my time in Bristol I was introduced to the Alexander Technique. I was moved by the body-mind experience and intrigued by the ideas underpinning it. I found a teacher, Diana Mason, and had regular lessons with her before moving to London to embark on the 3-year training.

The 1980s

These were years of extensive experimentation and exploration. While training in AT I took evening classes at The Place: Graham based dance technique. Later my interest moved to free dance with Tessa Marwick and I completed an ITEC diploma massage course at the Churchill Centre.

I became involved in native American studies and continued with this disciplined practice for several years, becoming a lodge leader for my local area and building sweat lodges. From these teachings I learnt respect for the power of the circle, the elements and the ‘medicine’ inherent in all living beings; the seen and the unseen.

While establishing myself as an Alexander Teacher in Cheltenham, I took part on a retreat in Devon with a woman from the USA called Gabriele Roth. The 5 Rhythms, her body of work, felt as essential to me as my blood and I spent the next 7 years studying with her and practising the work intensively. I was part of her first teacher training programme in California in 1988.

By 1987 I had moved to Germany and then moved to Switzerland where I continued my exploratory studies and taught the 5 Rhythms extensively for many years. I collaborated with musicians and visual artists, as well as running 5 day intensive courses together with Marc Scotoni, a holotropic breath practitioner.

The 1990s

In 1995, a year or so after the birth of my youngest daughter, we returned to the UK. We lived for a while at the Gaunts House Community in Dorset where I was co-ordinator of the steering group. Being in community was a steep learning curve in living and working with others and when it worked it was wonderful.

From 2000 onwards

I began to explore being and moving as close to the ground as possible. The floor became the dance partner and, like all dance partners, every floor was different. From this experience I developed my own approach to dance based on connecting: to floor, wall, chair, another person and other people.

The spirit of my time with Gabrielle Roth is an ever heartfelt presence. I enriched my dance experience by participating in classes which took me into dance through the imagination, using other art mediums and into the environment. This included working with Miranda Tufnell and Helen Poynor and also working and collaborating with Ursula Stricker. Dancing in nature forms a regular part of my weekly practice.

I engaged in further study with Alexander teachers who had applied and developed the Technique and its language, including Natural Running Course with John Woodward, Living in a Body and body mapping with Robyn Avalon and Alexander Technique Science with Patrick Johnson and Tim Cacciatore.

I worked for David Lloyd Leisure for eight years and through teaching studio classes completed level 3 Pilates Mat Diploma. Areas of interest and training during that time included osteoporosis, scoliosis and hyper mobility as well as an introduction to the Franklin method and a training in Yoga Moves, a brand name for DLL Yoga studio class.

PMP (progressive movement practice) are classes which I have developed over the years and are a study and exploration of movement inspired by AT, Dart Procedures and dance, with classic exercise training underpinning my practice.

I have also enjoyed working for the company Lush, introducing the Technique to their trainee massage therapists as well as giving ‘trouble shooting’ sessions to existing therapists.

Current Activities

I teach the Alexander Technique at Bryanston School, primarily to Music scholars but also to staff and other pupils at the school.

I give individual AT lessons and PMP and connect-express dance classes at Horton near Wimborne, Dorset and I also teach from my home in Yetminster near Sherborne.

STAT (society of teachers of the Alexander Technique) is a professional and international association of Alexander Teachers established in 1958. I co-run the STAT special interest group on Education, providing a resource and support for other AT teachers involved in teaching young people.

Alex Proudfoot, Counsellor & Therapist in Dudley

Vi Creswell
MSTAT
Teacher of the Alexander Technique & Movement Specialist

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