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Lots of people came to her classes. Lots of people had heard about her and her work, while others had neither heard of her nor her work. Nevertheless, she was known to us all. Known to us all because she was the sort of person we invent when life, difficult as it is, becomes even more difficult and our strength fails us.

This year she departed from us and her work: she had perfected our picture of the truly living human being which she had always resembled.

Gora`s biography? Only the sparsest details are known to me: she was born in Hildesheim, spent her youth in Danzig and came to Berlin to train and to work as a teacher. I t was in Berlin that she met Elsa Gindler, whose therapeutic body work impressed her so deeply, and whose pupil she became. Indeed, this work became so important that Gora continued it, going into it very deeply, and developing it further. This growing intensity and interest was to last a lifetime.

Later, in the indistinguishable rows of houses in the grey dilapidated streets of Berlin, one house , one flat , one room attracted people. From morning till late in the evening, they came by the hour. And there Gora sat on her little bench; in the spacious room with the red carpet and gave her classes.

Even then, so many came that there was n` t much room on the red carpet: Gora` s reputation had spread beyond Berlin and Germany, although she never sought public attention. She became an authority not because she strove for any such status but because she was deeply involved in the work.

She was a teacher and therapist of the very best kind. She taught neither a subject nor a method. She showed us the way: she taught us to find our balance; the mental, the physical and the psychological.

She reminded those of us who had forgotten of the natural order of movement. She found ways back to neglected regions. Ways which are well-known in other cultures but have been forgotten by us, midst the demands of daily life. Gora wanted to nurture our awareness for our bodies. This being the starting point for all expressions of life including art, science and philosophy. This desire was so precious to her: that if we could not allow the body to be in its natural state, that at the very least, we should accord the body the same measure of consciousness that we so zealously accord other things.

For a long time she had observed how the body is seen as nothing other than a tool; something which is taken for granted, and used and does not need to be reflected on. At the very most the body` s exterior, its appearance is cared for, until sick and tired it requires the help of medicine.

Gora observed how even schoolchildren, adults even more so , in an attempt to concentrate became tense; tension was mistaken for concentration. She observed how habits of bad posture affect the intellect, the psyche. She saw how the easiest, the lightest of actions exhausted us because they were executed hastily, fearfully or demonstratively ; because all these movements were accompanied by unnecessary tension. Gora saw that even when resting we were not at peace with ourselves.

Medicine, which has become one of the most amazing systems for repair, more and more specific but also narrower, can only combat the ills which are already manifest. The cure is from the exterior and the patient, who is said to have recovered, remains the same. The habits continue and the patient is alienated from self and body.

Gora took upon herself a task for a lifetime, the difficult and lengthy task of working with adults, helping them to search for what they had lost: working with the small steps and aids which her work afforded.

But how could this search ever be taken seriously when we exclude the body as one of the possible sources of awareness? How could this search be taken seriously, when we deny it the education, which is granted , as a matter of course, ( and I don’t mean training) to knowledge, intellect and even spirit in Europe.

Gora`s goal corresponded with her great gift for getting through to people. . She knew that it is only within the body itself that the development of awareness of the body can take place; that this awareness can only be truly and finally understood and consolidated when the differences in sensations were actually felt, sensed.

She was a demanding teacher. After all, we were there to work. She could even become infuriated.

And so we learned to move; to walk to stand, to lie as if we had never been able to before.
She insisted that we give our complete attention to the interconnectedness of breathing, the voice, muscle tone , the position of organs and the skeleton. This was a course in anatomy and physiology, about the slowly increasing ability to sense more exactly.

Gora gave us the opportunity to observe infants and toddlers. They were in a way all “ her children” , because she had looked after them and their mothers during pregnancy. At the beginning of consciousness movement comes from the centre of the person, from the centre of the tiny body.

The body , physically ( but also in every other sense) between heaven and earth , above and below, avails unconsciously of this constellation of energies if we would only allow the body to be carried ( by the earth) , to be held upright ( the breath ).

Little children never waste energy. They always have enough for the things that are important. Their play, with its rhythm of excitement and relaxation, is effortless the whole day long.

Any adult would be completely exhausted after a short time if they tried to move exactly as a small child does . And how often, when we mean to rest, do we remain tense till we fall asleep, only to wake exhausted the following day.?

Why did so many people come to Gora` s classes for so many years ?

There is nothing more difficult than to find a way to relearn that which has not been knowledge common to all, which has not belonged to our general culture for hundreds of years. This knowledge has never been completely lost. Very gifted dancers have known about it and so have some sensitive doctors , therapists, psychologists and artists.

There are of course a multitude of methods in the area of medicine and rehabilitation which affect us from the exterior.

But in the case of Gora` s work we were responsible for ourselves. The starting point and aim of all our efforts was our own selves, “ You need to understand that it is of absolutely no use that the teacher understands” .

When I first met Gora she was 78 years of age and to me she seemed frail and not in good health. But, she was able to live with her body and it was in harmony with whatever she wanted and she had schooled it to great levels of calmness, perseverance and efficiency .
From morning till late in the evening , never tiring, with her deep interest for all kinds of people and what they produced, she loved and nurtured the life-force in them and always looked forward to her classes.

In this manner she worked with generations of pupils. She never lost her energy , giving her last classes a few days before she died.
So right to the very end of her very long life she was the embodiment of the truly living human being. People became alive again just being near her, or even literally under her hands, which were as knowledgeable as she was, and under which fear, brusqueness and know- all attitudes melted away.

Gora did not leave a community of believers but individuals who will influence others. She did not write anything down because it would have meant less time for her pupils. However, she has left behind pupils, who after years of intensive study with Gora, will be able to carry on this work convincingly and each in their own individual manner.

Gora would not listen to thanks.
“Don’t thank me, do the work”.

January 1989

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