I once visited Noam Renen, a ‘renegade’ Alexander Teacher. This is an account of my experiences.
Around the time I finished training, I was in correspondence with a teacher called Noam Renen. I didn’t know much about him, other than that he disagreed with something I had written. One day, out of the blue, he phoned from a nearby town, and invited me to visit him.
When I got to the flat he was staying in, he started working on me. He was either silent or talking of inconsequential things. Basically, for a half hour, he took me from standing to monkey and back to standing again. I never sat. There wasn’t even a chair in evidence. At no time did he touch my neck or head. His hands were most active around my hips.
When I commented on this he had me kneel on the ground and I went (assisted by him) from kneeling with thighs and trunk upright to sitting on my heels, again without him touching me other than at the hips and occasionally the shoulders. This continued for a while. Then, for half an hour or so I lay supine while he sat in a sofa at my head and held my outstretched hands.Neither of us moved or spoke.
At no time did either of us mention orders, directions, inhibition, or anything remotely connected with what I understood as the Alexander Technique. He never suggested I work on him and I wouldn’t have known where to start.
Later, he opened a tin of tuna and ate it with a fork, asking if I could get him an invitation to address the course I had just left. On the subject of training courses, he was fairly scathing. In fact, he didn’t have a good word for anyone in the Alexander world, being convinced he was the sole person teaching the ‘true’ Technique.
Prior to my visit, I had done something to my back and was in a degree of pain. It was only when I got home that I realised there was no longer any discomfort. Actually, I hadn’t felt so good for ages. I had difficulty putting this down to anything Noam had done; but I would have had far greater difficulty attributing it to my own prowess.
Since then, I’ve heard the odd fragment concerning Noam, little of it complimentary.
Oddly, the way he took me from standing into monkey, repeatedly, like a well oiled machine, opened my understanding up of how we move like little had over the full three years of my course. I’ve done something similar ever since; and every time I’ve been back on the training course, teaching students, the way I do this has been commented on. If asked to explain, I say it helps reveal the operation of a reflex response like nothing else. I don’t touch anyone’s neck or head, either. I’ve tried and it unquestionably interferes with the ease of the movement.
This story wouldn’t be complete without reference to Noam’s website http://www.fairwork.com/fmalexander/, where he reveals himself to be something of an eccentric. Nevertheless, I feel I owe him a lot.
A second ‘Noam” website, created by Julio Maidanik, can be found at :http://members.fortunecity.com/noamrenen
In a recent phone conversation with me, Noam claimed my recollection of him eating from a tin of tuna was wrong, and that as a vegetarian he would never have done this.