COMPANION

Spirals

The description of a double-spiral arrangement of voluntary muscles in Raymond Dart’s 1950 paper,[1] have led a number of teachers of the Alexander Technique to investigate the spiralic arrangements of musculature and its implication for movement. Such muscle arrangements are frequently referred to as ‘spirals’.

Spiralic movements are obvious in such activities such as walking (cross-pattern) or throwing a ball, but books on anatomy and kinesiology rarely mention how the line of force of various muscles together produce rotatory movement. Gracovetsky argues in The Spinal Engine that spinal rotation might be the origin of human cross-pattern locomotion, but he does not discuss any other rotations or spiralic movements.[2]

The investigation of spiral arrangements and movements is frequently incorporated into the teaching of the Dart procedures, but is sometimes done without reference to the Dart procedures.

F. M. Alexander did not refer to any spiral arrangements, but was familiar with Dart’s paper. (Alexander also taught a number of professional and amateur golfers, and discussed aspects of golf in UoS, MSI, and UCL.[3])

Writings

  • Walter Carrington discusses the significance of spirals in Explaining the Alexander Technique.[4]
  • Dilys Carrington reports her work with teacher training course students on spirals in her article ‘The Spirals’.[5]
  • Some drawings of the spirals together with a short description of Dilys Carrington’s work on spirals are featured in Directed Activities.[6]
  • An illustrated summary of Dart’s paper is provided in The Evolution of Movement by Robin Simmons.[7]
  • ‘Developing a framework for integration’ by Luc Vanier and Rebecca Nettl-Fiol proposes three different models of working with spirals (simple, sophisticated and integrated).[8]
  • ‘Dart’s spirals have been misunderstood–Urbi to the rescue’ by Robin Simmons argues for how Dart presented the concept of spirals, not in terms of primary and secondary curves but in terms of left- and right-bilaterality.[9]

See also Golf, Dart procedures.

References

[1] ‘Voluntary musculature of the human body: The double-spiral arrangement’ (1950) in Skill and Poise by Raymond A. Dart (STAT Books, 1996), pp. 57-72.
[2] The Spinal Engine by Serge Gracovetsky (Springer-Verlag, 1989).
[3] See especially ‘The Golfer Who Cannot Keep his Eyes on the Ball’ in The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1932).
[4] Explaining the Alexander Technique by Walter Carrington and Sean Carey, (Mouritz, 2004), pp. 127-131.
[5] ‘The Spirals’ in An Evolution of the Alexander Technique by Walter Carrington and Dilys Carrington (Sheildrake Press, 2017), pp. 291-296.
[6] Directed Activities by Gerard Grennell (Mouritz, 2002), pp. 39-42, pp. 145-146.
[7] The Evolution of Movement by Robin Simmons (Author, 2015), pp. 137-153.
[8] ‘Developing a framework for integration’ by Luc Vanier, Rebecca Nettl-Fiol in AmSAT Journal Journal no. 9, Spring 2016, pp. 41-45.
[9] ‘Dart’s spirals have been misunderstood–Urbi to the rescue’ by Robin Simmons in STATNews vol. 11, no. 3 edited by Jamie McDowell (STAT, September 2021), pp. 23–26.