Benjamin Pohlig

In the summer of 2010 a grant from the Rebecca Skelton Fund and a scholarship from the Berlin Senate allowed me to travel to New York in order to study the Klein Technique under, amongst others, Susan Klein and Barbara Mahler.

I had first encountered the technique as an influence within dance classes in the UK, in which some of my teachers would refer to its principles. In Berlin however I was able to find Johanna Hegenscheidt, one of the few certified Klein teachers working in Europe. This sparked my interest in a movement/somatic technique that seemed to be somewhere between a vigorous physical re-patterning of the body and an experiential, analytical approach to anatomy. In fact the technique aims at achieving efficiency as much as physical and mental embodiment of movement and thus addressed (and continues to address in different ways) many issues I believed to be dealing with in my own dancing body/mind.

I initially planned to take a mixture of various dance and Klein lessons but quickly decided to spend almost my entire time in New York on the study of the technique with its two different class structures. This was mainly due to the fact that, despite its at first seemingly simple principles, I learned how complex change can come to be if one commits to the proposed process; its demands and rewards that can lead to a deeper understanding of our body (our agency) and its relation to the physical world. The stretching classes of Klein allowed me to work on releasing superficial muscles, and therefore weight, into the floor and along my skeletal structure according to an experiential analysis of my own anatomical alignment. It was physically and emotionally demanding to work on such a deep level but rewarding to begin to find connectivity, and ultimately expressivity, throughout my whole body. The goal of the technique class was to take these findings into a more specific dance movement context which helped me enormously to integrate my understanding into my dance training.

Apart from learning that discoveries are best made through daily practice and continuous inquiry I believe that I also learned to value the differences between somatic techniques. However different their approaches, aims and means might be I think that they are never mutually exclusive even if sometimes seemingly so. I took a few Alexander classes in New York thus adding to my previous experiences with Feldenkrais and Bartenieff, and although different from Klein I felt I could use its proposed perspective of the body to inform and enrich what I was learning and discovering with Klein.

My time in New York has been invaluable to me in my development of a daily practice and its analytical tools, which I believe will allow me to grow continuously as a movement artist and dance maker. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to both the Rebecca Skelton Fund for its support that allowed me to go on and the inspiring teachers that accompanied me along this journey.

With kind regards
Benjamin Pohlig