Reflections on Samuel Avital
By Tim Chartier
Like the art of its teacher, the Avital Method is beyond words. Describing Samuel's classroom calls for imagery and shape. In an effort to describe The International Summer Mime Workshop, I turn to the BodySpeak™ logo and its use of contrasts.
For a moment, look at the picture. Notice the curves, the lines, the contrasts, the separateness, and the wholeness. The picture calls the viewer to look at the differences and yet, the image is a collected whole. Now that you have looked at the image, let me describe Samuel's workshop within this imagery.
Samuel teaches through contrasts--from understanding to misunderstanding, from risk to safety, from comfort to struggle, from failure to success. The contrasts are often stark. Still, there is a cycle to the contrasts; there is a flow and a rhythm. We undulate from safety to risk to safety again. We float from struggle to comfort to struggle. The pattern is intentional and, still, spontaneous and personal. Like drops of water in a river, we flow on our own paths. Some drops find quick currents and others discover contemplative, placid pools. At the same time, we form a community, a unison, and a connectedness. We flow together toward something unseen. Yet all along, the river seems to know the direction.
Samuel searches the individual. Like the image, his eyes are open. He looks at you, around you, and into you. He offers the same for his students. He shares himself--his humor, his depth, his opinions, and his learnings. Samuel calls for honesty and openness. He strives to find the core--of the learning, of the individual, and of the community. To succeed, we all must be attentive, awake, ready, and searching. For in any moment, life can unfold quickly and subtly. We must be ready and alert to see the truths and nuances.
Samuel Avital offers a classic image of teaching where the learner is free to learn, free to discover, and free to explore. He searches for the simplest avenue to the destination. The path is so direct that he sometimes doesn't even offer us a map. He extends his gentle hands and simply calls us to come, to follow, to play, to dance, as well as to silence.
Samuel's teaching calls you whoever you are, whatever your interests, and whatever your path. He offers an environment to discover yourself in a fuller, creative way. He asks that you come with your light and darkness, with your edges and curves. He calls you to come as you. If you want to learn, come ready to teach. If you come to receive, be ready to give. If you come to connect with others, be ready to connect with yourself. Yet, no matter your goals, your wishes, your dreams, I believe Samuel offers avenues for you to reach for your stars in new ways.
Why do I say this? Samuel Avital searches for an environment in which each of us can find ourselves, knowing that he, himself, will also grow -- and through the process we learn together in community.
Tim Chartier, Student of the 26th International Summer Mime Workshop, 1997