DC BIG: The Washington, DC Biotensegrity Interest Group

DC BIG News & Events:
(for international biotensegrity-related events, please see the Levin Biotensegrity Archive events page)

Special Announcement:
Susan, along with
Chris Clancy of PNW BIG, will be offering an
Online course with live webinar on
Biotensegrity Basics:
Making a Tensegrity for Your Classroom

3-part class concludes with live webinar Sept 23, 2017
10AM Pacific; 1 PM Eastern; 6 PM UTC
Register Here


Susan's instructional slideshow for making your own
Non-stretchy Collapsible Tensegrity
is now on YouTube


Know any biotensegrity-minded folks in the Pacific Northwest?
Steve will be presenting at
BCU in Vancouver on Friday, November 18, and the next day the Pacific Northwest BIG is coming together for their inaugural meeting the 19th-21st.


Next DC BIG meeting: Sunday, November 6th, 2-4:30 PM at
The Center in Tenleytown, Washington, DC.
We are holding the agenda lightly, because there's a possibility that Steve can join us and tell us about his experiences presenting at LSU (September), BIG VIII & the European Fascia Congress (Belgium in early October) and at the Multiscale Innovative Materials and Structures Conference (Amalfi Coast, late October). If this happens, we’ll start by giving him the floor.

For the balance of our time, Susan will facilitate an interactive discussion on how biotensegrity informs human movement. She will share thoughts on how she brings biotensegrity into her T’ai Chi practice and teaching, but is also looking for thoughts from the group:

How does the study of biotensegrity inform your own relationship with your body?
If you're a movement teacher, how does biotensegrity apply?
Why is it important for movement teachers and coaches to understand biotensegrity?

We’ll have models and books around, as usual, to facilitate the discussion. Movement will be involved!


Biotensegrity was a key concept at the
4th European Fascia Congress last month. Take a look at the program here.

Daniele Claude Martin's Living Biotensegrity: Interplay of Tension and Compression in the Body
is now available through Amazon. Lots of focus on model building from one of the best, and wonderful insights into what biotensegrity means for those who work with bodies and movement.

Biotensegrity and Dynamic Anatomy — Presentation and Discussion; Dr. Levin's Biotensegrity and Dynamic Anatomy DVD will be presented with a discussion to follow hosted by Susan Lowell of DC BIG; tensegrity models will be available for a more tactile exploration of the subject.
Two presentation dates:
June 5 & July 17
2-4 PM
Tenley-Friendship neighborhood library in Tenleytown, Washington, DC. Free

Whether you're new to biotensegrity or a seasoned DC BIGger, a review of Dr. Levin's DVD always promises to reveal additional layers of understanding. Viewing in a group wth time for model play and discussion to follow will allow for dynamic and spontaneous serendipity.


DC BIG met on April 3, 2016 from 2 - 4:30 PM @
The Center in Washington DC
For our movement segment, Steve Shafarman facilitated an experiential piece on "Living Biotensegrity." His FlexAware movement system is biotensegrity-informed. <

This meeting's model exploration and discussion focused on the critical yet oft misunderstood concept of shear. We worked with various models to help us get some clarity, including a balloon filled with conrstarch and lentils, which exploded during the meeting!

Shear is what happens when tension and compression are both together in a single structural element. In tensegrity structures, compression and tension are isolated, complement each other, and do not compete; in biology as viewed through the lens of biotensegrity, tension and compression present as a co-arising duality.

Our discussion segment likewise focused on the understanding of shear.

According to Levin's biotensegrity, there’s no shear in the human body / biology, owing to the fact that tension and compression are isolated from each other —always separate components (though cooperative and interdependent). Levin’s "Shear or Not to Shear” piece on his
biotensegrity.com is a good place to start .

Drs. Donald Ingber and Stephen Levin are not in agreement on the shear issue. Ingber often diagrams tensegrities as animating through stretchy cables and adjustable length sticks, as you can see below if you link to "Sheared tensegrity cell model with nucleus."

Levin is explicit on this point, and often shares that in his experience and understanding, in terms of biology, only the Snelsonian non-stretchy-cabled tensegrity model succeeds (so, no shear).

Who do you agree with? Why? Could they both be right? How?

Here are links to the Wyss Institute pages, wherein shearing tensegrities are held out as models for biology:


—note: “stretched" *is* “sheared"

…on this, note the dancing tensegrity structures in the credits section as well


…and speaking of Donald Ingber, if you’ve not heard it, here’s his interview on his first encounter with the Needle Tower:


April 3, 2016 DC BIG meeting details:

The Center
4321 Wisconsin Avenue, NW [entrance is on Windom Place]
Washington DC 20016


1:50 - 2:00 : Gather

2- 2:10: Introductions

2:10 - 2:30: Steve Shafarman

2:30 - 3:15: Models & Shear

3:15 - 3:30 - Break

3:30- 4:30 - Discussion: Shear

4:30 -finish


Happy New Year to the DC BIG community!

Our next meeting will be January 31, 2016 from 2-4 PM @
The Center —location details below; please RSVP using the Contact page.

We’ll do some model building w/ Susan, have an experiential presentation from Carol Boggs, and have a discussion focusing on Graham Scarr’s work. Please see details below, which include the aspects of Graham’s work we’ll be focusing on.

Thanks to all who came to our DC BIG meeting in October: Ed Bilanchone, Audrey Blanchard, Carol Boggs, Dody DiSanto, Steve Geiger, Betsy Lehrfeld, Susan Lowell, Maureen McHugh, Lori Milstein, Margo Robbins, Steve Shafarman, Thanasis Simos, Rita Solorzano, Kim Thompson, Jim Turner. Special thanks to Dody for hosting us at The Center.

At that meeting, the group decided to try to arrange 2-hour-long meetings 6 x per year, focusing on 1) building and working with models, 2) Movement & related experientials, and 3) a focused discussion on a specific topic. Dody DiSanto generously offered her studio space at The Center in Tenleytown in Washington, DC for our upcoming meetings.

A favorite moment for me: when one of the strings on the 3-strut tensegrity model snapped, the whole structure became flat. Kim T pointed out that the sticks banging into each other reminded her of how, when bones pathologically touch in the body, some proposed treatments try to pull them apart at the location of the meet (and she demonstrated this by showing the futility of trying to get the sticks to now stay apart). If people understood biotensegrity, however, they might realize that a solution for restoring the space between these bones may be found by working more distally, and she masterfully took hold of the far ends of two of the sticks (from which the connecting string had broken) and pushed them closer to one another, and the space between all of the sticks was immediately restored!

Other October meeting highlights: review & discussion of the September Biotensegrity events (BIG VII, the 1st Biotensegrity Summit and the 4th International Fascia Research Congress). Discussion of, and experiencing of models: 6 strut tensegrities, 3 strut tensegrities & the “elastegrities” of Leftheri Pavlides. Other topics: blood, soft matter, spirals, including the Body Braids some tried at the Summit (see
BodyBraid.com ), and the amazing amount of respect given and received across the board at our September events.

…and here’s a treat:

Carol and Dody had a question regarding Steve’s comments about the blood. They recalled him saying “the blood is not fluid.” I wrote and asked him on behalf of our group: what exactly did you mean by that?

Steve’s reply:

"I am sure I said, "blood is not a liquid", but it may be considered a "viscoelastic" fluid. ( Of course, I have problems with "viscoelastic", it uses linear words and concepts to define a nonlinear property, see below.) Liquids are fluids, but not all fluids are liquids, ( think glass). Silly Putty has fluid-like properties in that it continually deforms under applied stress, but, unlike a liquid, it does not immediately take up the shape of its container. Blood is a slurry, (think cornstarch in water), of all sorts of nonlinear matter, various gels and emulsions in different states of "fluidity". All the component parts of blood are "soft matter", each with its own peculiarities.  RBCs are stiffer than WBCs, fibrinogen is more fluid, until it leaves the confines of the circulatory system when it "gels", serum is a mix of multiple emulsions and gels in varying states of fluidity, and the whole slurry is thixotropic, thinning and flowing under higher (systolic) pressure and "thicker" under lower (diastolic) pressure.

Spilt blood flows like a viscous oil, not like water, and its component parts behave differently. For a while, the RBCs retain their shape, but the serum, (more liquid like), flows, the fibrin, thickens, and so on. As blood "dries", it doesn't evaporate, it stiffens, becoming a thicker gel, and is more like a very stiff Silly Putty. (Does drying blood gain weight? I am not sure, but it is worth looking into. Iron gains weight as it rusts, burning matter gains weight, etc. Maybe blood gains weight as it hardens, rather than losing weight from evaporation. It certainly undergoes phase change.)

The problem, again, is that soft matter science is still very new and has yet to fully develop its own language. As noted above, "viscoelastic" is used to describe soft matter, but it implies a state of matter that has "liquid" and "solid" properties, rather than "soft matter" properties, a state of its own. “
©2015 Stephen M. Levin

January 31, 2016 DC BIG meeting details:

The Center
4321 Wisconsin Avenue, NW [entrance is on Windom Place]
Washington DC 20016


1:50 - 2 : Gather

2- 2:10: Introductions

2:10 - 2:35: model building with Susan:

Triangles: energy efficiency, isolation of tension & compression & lack of shear

The triangle is a basic structure we biotensegritists need to understand. Triangles isolate tension from compression in a different way from a tensegrity. Groking the triangle is fundamental to understanding several aspects that arise when we consider tensegrity's tensioned, floating compression system, including energy efficiency and absence of shear.
Whenever Steve presents he introduces triangles, and he’s often stated that our bodies are "fully triangulated” (which is what facilitates instantaneous, omnidirectional, omni-locational force distribution), but often people tend to blow right by the triangle topic, eager to head into the sexier tensegrity stuff. It’s an understanding gap that I’ve become fascinated with. We’ll review shear as well, because this is a piece
even the best get stuck on, particularly when considering the nested, scaffolded heterarchical structure of things)

2:35 - 3:00:
Carol Boggs on Biotensegrity & the Alexander Technique

3:00 - 3:10 - Break

3:10- 4:00 - Open discussion:
Graham Scarr’s Tensegrity in Biology website

Graham Scarr is the author of the first-ever book on biotensegrity,
Biotensegrity: The Structural Basis of Life, which Steve wrote the forward to. Since not everyone has the book we’ll discuss the info on his website. Specifically, let’s focus on the Home page, the Biology page, and the Geodesic page. Check these pages out in advance and come with questions and issues to discuss.  TensegrityInBiology.co.uk

4:00 -finish

some have expressed a desire to continue the discussion after 4 PM. In Tenleytown you’ll find many easy places to hang out and chat


DC BIG: next meeting:

Sunday, October 25th from 2-4 PM

The Center
4321 Wisconsin Avenue, NW     [entrance is on Windom Place]
Washington DC 20016


Last month’s events (BIG VII, The 1st Biotensegrity Summit, and the 4th International Fascia Research Congress) were fairly amazing (some are even saying historic, yikes!). 

Many of us thought it would be beneficial to get together to compare notes, so we’re getting together on Sunday, October 25th from 2-4 PM at The Center. I’ll have a few models on hand as well.

All are welcome, even if you were not able to attend the September events, but please RSVP to me using the
contacts page so I have an idea of numbers in advance.

Hope to see you on the 25th; please share this information with anyone you think may be interested!


BIG VII & the 1st Biotensegrity Summit

The 7th meeting of the International Biotensegrity Interest Group was held in Vienna just prior to IFRC IV in September, with two days of invitation-only meetings (as is their tradition), and the third day as an open gathering: the 1st Biotensegrity Summit, co-hosted by the BIG and the Levin Biotensegrity Archive (see below).

I’m very happy to report that biotensegrity seems to be finally turning a corner in terms of recognition and appreciation for its value in the fields of medicine, therapy, sports, performance, cognition and movement, to say the least. Regarding his amazing endoscopy work with 
in vivo fascia, Jean Claude Guimberteau told hundreds of people at IFRC IV, “I agree with biotensegrity, and I think it’s the best explanation for what we see.” Jaap van der Wal also cited biotensegrity as the structural foundation behind embryonic development, saying he is “completely in agreement with biotensegrity and a biotensegrity model." Serge Gracovetsky explained how biotensegrity theory explains our energy efficiency, including how gravitational forces are managed by the body and how bone is maintained.

…to read and hear more about the September events:

Brooke Thomas, who was with us for BIG VII and the Summit, and who stayed on for the Fascia Research Congress, covers all three events in her latest
Liberated Body podcast (and while you’re visiting Brooke's site, you will surely also enjoy her other podcast, including an interview featuring Dr. Stephen Levin and another with Joanne Avison)  

Tracey Mellor came from the UK to attend the Summit and the FRC, and wrote an
informative blog post:

…and Lesley Powell
featured it in her blog as well:


Shari Berkowitz also joined us in September, hopes to start a Big Apple BIG, and
is starting a biotensegrity page on her website:
 …please let your NYC friends know.


Terra Rosa’s July e-magazine featured biotensegrity, with articles from Graham Scarr, Joanne Avison and John Sharkey:

Biotensegrity Archive has been established

The Stephen M Levin Biotensegrity Archive  biotensegrityarchive.org  has been established and is on its way to being a 501c3 charitable organization. The mission of the Archive includes goals for preservation, education, research, outreach and community building, and it aims to make Steve’s work and the still-developing history of biotensegrity more accessible to the growing community of learners who are looking to biotensegrity for new ideas and understanding. If you have any interest in helping us grow this organization, please let me know!  Donations much appreciated—you can donate right from the website: < biotensegrityarchive.org>


Press announcement for the Summit and IFRC IV

Any of you interested in fitness, health, anatomy, biomimicry, biomechanics, embryology, fascial fitness, movement, mechanotransduction, and how art can inspire science should know about two sequential events happening in the DC area in the coming month: the 4th International Fascia Research Congress (IFRC IV) and the 1st Biotensegrity Summit (both at the Hyatt in Reston).

The first IFRC was held at Harvard in 2007; the second in 2009 in Amsterdam, and the third in Vancouver in 2012, all with hundreds of lead scientists gathering from around the globe to share research on a little-understood part of our anatomy, the fascia, that runs through bone, muscle, organs—everything. This webbing that weaves us together, the fascia is also the stuff that once ended up in the anatomist’s bucket. But research on fascia’s critical importance is continuing to emerge and it’s fast becoming the darling of medical, health and fitness professionals—cutting edge stuff! And this year, IFRC is in our own back yard, taking place from Sept 18-20.

The 1st Biotensegrity Summit is being presented as a pre-conference day to the IFRC IV, Sept 17. The scientific theory that all biologic structure manifests tensegrity architecture—biotensegrity— was born forty years ago right here in Washington, DC when a local surgeon who was frustrated with his medical school biomechanics, which modeled bodies as buildings or machines (an idea from 1680 that persists even today), had an “ah-ha” moment inspired by Kenneth Snelson’s sculpture Needle Tower on the grounds of the Hirshhorn Museum. That surgeon, Stephen M. Levin, now 83, still lives in McLean, VA and he and Kenneth Snelson, now 87, still keep in touch.

This year’s IFRC is honoring Levin with a special award for his contribution to understanding the structure of the fascia, and, fittingly, at the 1st Biotensegrity Summit, its host, the newly established Stephen M. Levin Biotensegrity Archive, will be honoring Snelson, an artist, as a “Pioneer of Biotensegrity.”



Levin to be feted at IFRC IV

Pioneer introduced biotensegrity as new paradigm for biological structure

Washington, DC, May 18, 2015 --

Dr. Stephen M Levin, originator of the theory of biotensegrity, will be celebrated at the
Fourth International Fascia Research Congress (IFRC) in the Washington, DC area in September. 

Levin's 1975 insight that the advent of tensegrity architecture provides an invaluable model for biological structures is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015. This year also marks the establishment of the Stephen M Levin Biotensegrity Archive and the
first Biotensegrity Summit (to be held as a pre-conference day in conjunction with the IFRC). 

The IFRC award recognizes Levin's contribution to the field of fascial research and will be given on behalf of the
Ida P. Rolf Research Foundation at the awards banquet that caps the weekend event. The IFRC gathers clinicians and researchers to advance the understanding of bodily structure and function. The first tensegrity structures were realized in 1949 by artist Kenneth Snelson who uses the term “floating compression” to describe his work. Snelson’s colleague and teacher, R. Buckminster Fuller, coined the term “tensegrity” to express the tensional integrity of Snelson’s pieces.

Susan's been tweeting out great lines of Steve's (and a few other things) on Twitter; follow her @1biotensegrity


Announcement: The Thiel dissection in Dundee in July is now FULL
(but new groups of six may be accomodated; contact information below). There are still openings for the 1st Biotensegrity Summit in Reston, VA in September. To Register Click Here

Dr. Stephen Levin will present at the Feldenkrais Institute in NYC on the evening of May 7th, 2015.
The event is open to all.


The World's first-ever Biotensegrity-informed and Biotensegrity-focused Thiel dissection of human cadavers: Join John Sharkey, Stephen Levin MD and Joanne Avison in University of Dundee, Scotland to conduct the first-ever biotensegrity-informed and biotensegrity-focused Thiel soft fix dissection of human cadavers. 2nd, 3rd, 4th July 2015. 

Thiel dissection involves a process of soft-fixing tissues over a period of six months, so that instead of working with
rawhide, researchers can work with tissues that more closely approximate living tissue. Exciting and historic, we look forward to hearing about the results!

Limited number of spaces, due to the special nature of the event.


The website and registration are up for the
1st Biotensegrity Summit—the biotensegrity-focused pre-conference day Sept 17, 2005, in coordination with the Fourth International Fascia Research Congress, IFRC IV.

Hope to see you there!!

(…and members of BIG should have received an invitation as well…if not—
contact me!)


LOOKING AHEAD--Save the Date! BIG VII Sept 17, 2015

The Fourth International Fascia Research Congress (FRC) will be held just outside of Washington, DC, in Reston, VA, September 18 – 20, 2015. The principal focus of the conference is the presentation of the latest and best scientific research on the human fasciae in all its forms and functions.
Jo Avison writes in the most recent issue of BPD@home, the newsletter of
Bodywork Professional Development in the UK :

  • “Biotensegrity Interest Group (BIG) will be holding its seventh annual congress just prior to IFRC4, in Washington DC
    next year. Look out for the pre-conference day. It is too big a subject to squish into an individual presentation at the congress, so Dr Levin and his colleagues at BIG VI this year will be planning a full day of presentations from world-renowned authorities on Biotensegrity. I am most honoured to be co-chairing the Presentation Committee, along with Paul Sercu, who was responsible for a fabulous Fascia Congress in Belgium, 2012. Watch this space for more news, views and exciting perspectives on Biotensegrity. It is the key to how we “wear our fascia” and move around in it. You will be first to hear who will be presenting next year; put the dates in your diary from 16th September onwards. It will be worth the ticket.”
You can read the entire issue of BPD@home, in which Jo reviews the British Fascia Symposium, by visiting the Bodywork Professional Development site. You can also register for Jo’s wonderful webinars here as well!
Graham Scarr’s Biotensegrity: The Structural Basis of Life, published by Handspring, is now going into its second printing!
The British Fascia Symposium was held May 10 +11, 2014 in Windsor, UK.
Roughly 20% of the presentations and workshops included the concept of biotensegrity, including the Keynote by Jo Avison. Jo’s upcoming book,
Yoga, Fascia, Anatomy and Movement will be released soon by Handspring Publishing.
Well Done!

The sixth annual meeting of the international Biotensegrity Interest Group was held from Sept. 12-14 at the Oude Abdij in Drongen, Belgium, just outside of Ghent. Hosted by Paul Sercu and arranged by Paul Sercu and Danielle Claude-Martin, the event allowed colleagues from far and wide to come together to share their applications of biotensegrity in their work. Countries represented included Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, the UK, and the US.
On day one, Spiral Dynamics and Qi Gong teacher Willi Schneider led us in morning movement sessions by the apple and quince orchard near the canal. Stephen Levin, “The Father of Biotensegrity,” kicked off the formal presentations, sharing the results of his latest theoretical findings, which demonstrate the oscillating endoskeletal icosahedron at the quantum level (such as in the cyclohexane ring flip), and which articulate in greater depth that biologic material is non-linear soft matter. Graham Scarr, author of the first book on biotensegrity, took us more deeply into the geometric and structural foundations of life.
And all that was before lunch!
Additional presentations were given by Paul Sercu, Leonid Blyum, Bernard Payrau, Michelle Tarento, Dominique Bourgeois, Joeri Calsius, Jo Avison, Jan Eyskens, and yours truly.
More about some of our BIG friends who presented and attended can be found by following these links:
Dr. Stephen M. Levin and biotensegrity theory:
biotensegrity.com; Graham Scarr: Tensegrity in Biology; Paul Sercu; Danielle Claude-Martin; Jo Avison; Leonid Blyum and ABR (Advanced Biomechanical Rehabilitation) blyum.com; Dominique Bourgeois; Joeri Calsius: biotensegrity informs his practice, teaching and research at the intersection of psychotherapy and osteopathy; Jan Eyskens; Bernard Payrau ; Willi Schneider; John Sharkey; Michelle Tarento; Samar Zeki

DC BIG (Washington, DC Biotensegrity Interest Group) presents: a very special afternoon with Stephen Levin, MD
Biotensegrity: Bioarchitecture & Dynamic Anatomy--A unified model for stability, mobility & information dissemination

This is a new, unified and very concentrated presentation which encompasses the structural foundations of bioarchitecture (tensegrity icosahedrons, four bar linkage / kinematic chains, soft matter), the dynamic anatomy which results (stability/mobility, mechanotransduction, energy efficiency, force distribution, etc.), and their place in the study of biotensegrity. It offers an opportunity to pull many conceptual threads together and to bone up on the front-edge of Dr. Levin’s ever-developing theory of biotensegrity.

Level: This is the same presentation which was given in November to the UNC biology department, so the intensity and level are geared to researchers and educators in the field and their graduate students. Format: Because this presentation offers leading-edge and highly concentrated material, we will follow a format which has worked well in the past for new presentations. First, Dr. Levin will go through the presentation start to finish. After we take a break and have a chance to stretch a bit, chat, and let the material sink in, Dr. Levin will go through the presentation a second time, this time allowing us the opportunity to jump in with questions and comments. Please be aware that, because of the format, it is possible we will go a little later than 5 PM.

When: January 26, 2014 2 PM- 5 PM (estimated)
Where: Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES) Social & Academic Center 9101 Old Georgetown Rd. , Bethesda, MD, 20814
Contribution: $6.00 CASH (to cover FAES room fee).
Schedule: 2-2:15 - Arrive, check in 2:15-3:15 - Presentation 3:15-3:30 - Meet & Greet; stretch, snack 3:30-5:00 - Presentation review with questions, comments and discussion
All Are Welcome but SPACE is LIMITED - PLEASE RSVP
For more information on biotensegrity, please visit Dr. Levin’s website

Hi Everyone!

--->We are RESCHEDULING our next DC BIG meeting to JULY 14th (originally was set for July 7th).

It will still be 2-5 PM @ the Social & Academic Center of the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences --9101 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, MD 20814.

$5 cash at the door for FAES room rental fee.

PLEASE SHARE this email with anyone you think would be interested and help spread the word about biotensegrity!

RSVP to me so we know how many to plan on.


1:45-2:00 PM: meet and greet

2:00 PM - 3:30: Model Building

3:30 - 3:45 - Bucky Birthday celebration snack break

3:45 - 5:00: Posture discussion


As planned, for our next DC BIG we will build models & have an open forum on posture. And, because July 12th would be R. Buckminster Fuller's 118th birthday, and DC BIG marked our one year anniversary in April, there will be a special celebratory nature to our meeting.

This will be a tactile, kinesthetic, experiential event!

Bring your own model-making materials: marshmallows, toothpicks, popsicle sticks, rubber bands, Tensegritoys--whatever you use to make your own tensegrities, closed kinematic chains and geometric models. And, if you can, bring along tensegrity structures, Jacob's ladders, closed kinematic chain models, Hoberman spheres, Switch-Pitches, bubble wands, and anything else you have found that tells a piece of the story of our biologic structure through physical experience.

If you don't have your own, don't worry, we will bring models and materials to share!

Through making and using these models we will experience and explore several of the concepts Dr. Levin refers to in his presentations and papers on biotensegirty: pin joints, levers, moments, oscillation,  trusses,  torque, inherent global force-transmission and distribution…

We're all interested in how biotensegrity translates into practical application in our lives and livelihoods, so after we make and share models (and we hope to be able to demonstrate __at least__ 3 different ways to build a 6 strut tensegrity), and after our celebratory snack break, we will make use of the models on hand to discuss posture.  

There are so many things going on with tensegritiy structures, you really have to build them and play with them a lot to "get" the many things they have to teach. In my experience, there are a number of ways to build tensegrities and each has something to offer in terms of understanding the nature of these structures. We should be able to build them in at least 3 ways at our gathering. We will also model some of the Platonic solids and maybe look at close packing and four bar kinematic chains as well.

Graham Scarr wrote, in a recent exchange on the subject of building models, "it really is the key to biotensegrity but is so often dismissed as being too simple."  Graham's site <
http://www.tensegrityinbiology.co.uk/contact.html> offers a lot of info on the relationship of the platonic solids to tensegrity structures as well as info on how Graham builds his models, one of which we got to play with and explore at our first DC BIG meeting, which Graham attended.

other announcements:

---> Our nascent
DCBIG.org website is now up. Suggestions for what we can offer here are welcome, as are articles you've written on biotensegrity.

--> Gerald Pollack's new book, The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor, is now available through your favorite bookseller. Some of you may remember Pollack's work was discussed by Jo Avison in the webinar we viewed at one of last year's DC BIG events. Jo was sharing highlights from the March 2012 International Fascia Congress held in Vancouver.


Hi Everyone,

-->We will meet July 7 @FAES from 2-5 to build models & have an open forum on posture.
Bring your own model-making materials or come and play with ours. RSVP to me so we know how many to plan on.

There are so many things going on with tensegritiy structures, you really have to build them and play with them a lot to "get" them. In my experience, there are a number of ways to build tensegrities and each has something to offer in terms of understanding the nature of these structures. We should be able to build them in at least 3 ways at our gathering. We will also model some of the Platonic solids and maybe look at close packing and four bar kinematic chains as well. Graham Scarr wrote, in a recent exchange on the subject of building models, "it really is the key to biotensegrity but is so often dismissed as being too simple."  Graham's site <
http://www.tensegrityinbiology.co.uk/contact.html> offers a lot of info on the relationship of the platonic solids to tensegrity structures as well as info on how Graham builds his models, one of which we got to play with and explore at our first DC BIG meeting.

--->Kenneth Snelson's new book is a free download, at least for the moment, from a link provided on his web site. There is a lot of detail I had not seen before on how he goes about planning and building his pieces.

…and if you have not yet read Snelson's article on tensegrity, which highlights the relationship to weaving, I very highly recommend that as well!

---> DC BIG co-founder Maureen McHugh has an article in the recent International Feldenkrais® Federation Newsletter, "A year of living with biotensegrity."

-->Jo Avison's fabulous Fascia Talkshow webinars continue to inspire and inform my work. I subscribe to almost all of these, and am very, very happy to have others to watch and re-watch them with! Once purchased and aired, they are accessible via a link to adobe for reviewing, so it’s useful to “buy” them even after they have aired. Let me know which one interests you and we can get get a group together to watch!

-->Looking ahead, Kim Thompson reports that there's an exciting exhibit coming this fall on Yoga & Art:

Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery Debuts World’s First Exhibition on the Visual History of Yoga

tensegrally yours,,


Susan Lowell, M.A.
co-founder, DC BIG


Happy almost-Spring from DC BIG: Washington, DC's Biotensegrity Interest Group -- please forward this to any that may be interested!

In this message:

Upcoming events: Levin @ the Smithsonian, Ingber @ NIH, Shafarman @ The Center

Musings: The Maryland Science Center; the Baltimore Craft Show: studies in balance and fabulous body sculptures

---> March 24, 2013 DC BIG (DC area Biotensegrity Interest Group) presents: a very special day with Stephen Levin, MD; Tracing the Origins of Biotensegrity: “Eureka” at the Smithsonian (in which a sculpture inspired a revolution in biology)
We will start the tour with Dr. Levin the Natural History Museum, and follow him as he traces his process of searching for, realizing and developing his theory of biotensegrity
March 24, 2013 10 AM- 2 PM -- Smithsonian Museums (starting at Natural History), Washington, DC Mall
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the intimate nature of this event, SPACE IS LIMITED!! PLEASE RSVP; flyer with more details attached as PDF below

--->Dr Donald Ingber is scheduled to be lecturing at NIH as part of the WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON LECTURE SERIES (WALS) on March 6th, 3:00–4:00 p.m. in the Masur Auditorium (Building 10). I'm told it's free and open to the public. Ingber is credited with recognizing and providing proof of biotensegrity at the cellular level. There's a comprehensive presentation of his work on the wikispaces tensegrity area: <
http://tensegrity.wikispaces.com/Ingber,+Donald+A> Ingber has done a lot of other work as well, and I have no idea what his subject at NIH will be.

--->A FlexAware seminar with originator Steven Shafarman will be held at The Center on March 10th, 3:30-5:30 PM; $30
If you have not tried Steve's ingenious Feldenkrais-inspired healing and restorative movement system, you're in for a treat! Reserve space

--->Jo Avison's excellent Fascia Talkshow series continues with more on Myofascial Meridians in Motion (focusing on Myer's myofascial meridians) on March 13th and continuing The Elastic Body series (featuring Schleip & Mueller's fascial fitness work) on April 10th <

Musings: A visit to the NCC Craft Fair in Baltimore this past weekend yielded many inspiring encounters, biotensegrally speaking.

The show was filled with mobiles this year, many Calder-inspired. A talk by jewelry maker Sharon Church shed light on these and provided me with a new way to see how the mechanics of a weight pulling down on a system (adding tension), can cause other pieces in the system to become almost weightless and "float" up. These are not tensegrity structures, to be sure, but there is certainly a lot to explore in these in terms of linkage, movement and balance.

We then came across the charming wire sculptures of Michael Gard. These are stunners, folks! Especially considering that he'd never heard of fascia; take a look:


Michael makes the figures out of clay, casts them in wax, painstakingly hand weaves and knots wire strands around the figures, then melts the wax away. We asked the artist how he came to create these. He said he wanted something strong and light, and which would distribute pressures / forces throughout the entire system; "triangles do that," he said. Remarkable!!

(And, this connects well to Snelson's article, "Weaving, Mother of Tensegrity." <

After the show closed for the day, we walked over to the harbor, looked at the masts of the Constellation and other boats (mindful of how tensional guy wires take shear out of the masts and allow them to be made thinner and lighter), and then wandered down to the Science Center to see Snelson's Easy Landing. I had not seen it since beginning my studies in biotensegrity, and I had not realized how conveniently close it stands to the large picture window displays of the dinosaurs--just perfect!!

We spent a good half hour looking back and forth between the two….and contemplating the relationships between tension, compression and suspension. I realize that suspension is sort of compression just turned upside down, so another kind of compression, but the play of the curved metal pieces in the mobiles we'd seen earlier in the day--which means they are springs of a sort, right? -- and the weights and counterweights--a different sort of yin and yang from the push and pull of a tensegrity, had an experientially organic aspect, somehow.

The adventure continues!

tensegrally yours,,


Susan Lowell, M.A.
co-founder, DC BIG

Happy New Year from DC BIG: Washington, DC's Biotensegrity Interest Group--please forward to any that may be interested!

(biotensegrity is the theory that all biologic life has tensegrity / floating compression architecture: tensegrity in biology; the theory and the term were originated by Dr. Stephen Levin, FACS.  more at

In this message:

--->New Years greetings & updates from DC BIG & Dr. Stephen Levin

---> Biotensegrity: a unifying theory of biological architecture with applications to osteopathic practice, education, and research--a review and analysis by RL Swanson was just published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 113:1 2013 Jan pg 34-52

--->Upcoming Webinars: 1) Dr. Levin Introducing Biotensegrity; 2) Jo Avison's Fascia Talkshow series continues with The Elastic Body and more on Myofascial Meridians in Motion; 3)
Tom Myers on Tensegrity in the Body

--->Bodyworkers Only: Eli Thompson presenting Anatomy Trains for Manual Therapists at The Center in DC Feb 16-18

--->Hope on the Hill: Healers of Planet Earth; Capitol Wellness Expo; Health on the Hill; Feb 6-8

---> Dr. Donald Ingber will be lecturing at NIH on March 6th

---> NIH's great webcasts & Erik Demaine's folded paper featured as part of the Forty Under Forty exhibit at the Renwick through Feb 3rd.

Hi Everyone,

In this extended season of thanks, light and renewal (well, at least _I_ am extending it!), I wanted to take a moment to extend cheerful tidings to all of you and to thank each of you for being part of DC BIG's first year. Most of you know that ours is the first BIG in the US.

We will begin to schedule DC BIG gatherings again soon, but in the meantime, a few events are coming up that you may be interested in. I will be pretty involved with Hope on the Hill preparation over the next two weeks and am taking part in the Capitol Wellness Expo (see below).

Going forward, there have been a few requests to do more with modeling, and I find that winter is a great time to work on these. I have a theory that the different ways of building tensegrity structures each has different things to teach us, and I'm slowly exploring these. In the process, inspired by re-reading Dr. Levin's work and the writing of our friend Graham Scarr, I've actually decided to go back to the basic 3-D geometry, and I've been building a variety of structures with mini marshmallows and toothpicks to feel the increases and decreases in stability as things triangulate more and/or less. Coincidentally, Maureen reports she has been exploring 3-D geometry as well, and invested in the Zometool kit <
http://zometool.com> which is made just for this purpose.

Perhaps our first gathering this year should be a model-builing free-for-all? --your thoughts appreciated!

Also in the new year, we hope to get into posture and other subjects (perhaps gait?) people have expressed interest in (the vocabulary of tensegrity had a few requests as well). As always, if anyone would like to present or recommend a presenter, please let me or Maureen know.

Dr. Levin reports that his Lyme's disease seems to be a thing of the past. He says the autumn conferences in Belgium went well, and his four-bar linkage presentations enjoyed enthusiastic responses. Steve is now in the process of writing an article on Jacob's Ladder for a peer reviewed journal. He's also looking into the possibility of presenting via webinar, and wants to test out the format. If anyone would like to be a participant (gratis) for a test-run webinar on the basics of biotensegrity, please let one of us know, and we'll put you on the contact list for the event.

My own continued exploration of the four bar linkage concept as applied to the body has led me to thoughts about how this applies to T'ai Chi's sensing hands play. Perhaps, when we connect lightly but fully at the wrist and, as Maggie Newman says, we "become one ch'i," we create the possibility of a two-person four bar linkage continuum, whereby a small action initiated by one person (such as a heel pressing the floor) becomes magnified through the linkage system to create a significantly greater action in the partner.

Other upcoming events  and things you may want to know about:

_-->Biotensegrity: a unifying theory of biological architecture with applications to osteopathic practice, education, and research--a review and analysis by RL Swanson was just published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 113:1 2013 Jan pg 34-52
a link to the full text is at <

--->Jo Avison's excellent Fascia Talkshow series continues with The Elastic Body (featuring Schleip & Mueller's fascial fitness work) starting on the 13th of February, and more on Myofascial Meridians in Motion (focusing on Myer's myofascial meridians).   <

--->Tom Myers has a webinar series presenting Tensegrity in the Body. It started 2/22 with basic intro stuff and a lot of Flemons' models, and there are 3 still to come in the Tuesday night webinar series. My understanding is that Dr. Levin's work will be presented on the 29th, and Ingber's the following Tuesday. (Note that Myers will be presenting Schleip's & Mueller's Fascial Fitness training this coming July in Maine)

--->And speaking of Myers' work, The Center in DC is sponsoring an Anatomy Trains workshop for manual therapists February 16-18; flyer attached below. Dody says there are some spaces left as of this writing.

---> Voice for HOPE is sponsoring HOPE on the Hill Feb. 6-8 along with two other related events: HEALTH on the Hill (Technology.Healing.Education FAIR                                                                          Citizen Healers present their approaches and products on the Hill for the Public, Congress Members & Staff) and Capitol Wellness Expo (A forum on issues and practices sponsored by D.C. Representative Norton partnering with D.C. Citizen Healers). HOPE is Healers of Planet Earth, promoting a trans-partisan effort to improve our nation's health care systems which include the voices of natural and alternative health and healing practitioners; they offer training to become a Citizen Healer at every HOPE on the Hill event.

I always find HOPE on the Hill to be an energizing event, with great educational, promotional and networking opportunities to boot!  <

---> Dr Donald Ingber is scheduled to be lecturing at NIH as part of the WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON LECTURE SERIES (WALS) on March 6th, 3:00–4:00 p.m. in the Masur Auditorium (Building 10). I'm told it's free and open to the public. Ingber is credited with recognizing biotensegrity at the cellular level. There's a comprehensive presentation of his work on the wikispaces tensegrity area: <

--->While at NIH, why not check out Snelson's Tree I on the Patio, Building 38A, Nat Library of Medicine on the NIH campus?

---> NIH & the Renwick--Even if you miss Dr. Ingber at NIH, NIH's Center for Information Technology is great about putting these up on the webcast page pretty quickly.
This website is a terrific resource--check out Dr. Helen Langevin's presentation on Yoga and stretching (which goes into stretching at the level of the twisting acupuncture needle pulling the tissues into a spiral) or Erik Demaine's presentation on Origami and linkages--you will be able to relate a lot of it to Dr. Levin's 4-bar linkage presentation. And if you like what you see there, check out Demaine's folded paper art featured as part of the Forty Under Forty exhibit at the Renwick through Feb 3rd

That's it for now--Happy New Year!

cheers & thanks



DC BIG news & Events: DC BIG meetings at FAES Sept 30th and Oct 28th   
(flyer for Sept 30th meeting attached); Sept 12th webinar on Pioneers of

Other events: Voice for Hope's "Hope on the Hill" Sept 12-14;  Pain
Connection's  Pain Awareness Month Symposium on "Hope, Help and
Healing: Changing the Culture of Treating Chronic Pain" Sept. 28th; more
info and links  for both of these below

Hi everyone,

I'm really delighted to invite you all to our next meeting, Sept 30th,
featuring presentations on Biotensegrity in Healing: Bio-Geometric
Integration, Chiropractic Work & Acupuncture with Dr. Anthony Zoya and
Zinnia Maravell, OM, LAc. Both presentations will follow our usual format of
30 min for the presentation and 30 min. for questions and discussion. A PDF
flyer is attached, in case you know of groups or individuals who may be
interested in joining us.

Also this month we are meeting earlier than usual and expanding the program
to provide more opportunities for sharing and dialogue among participants.
We will follow the two presentations with an "Experiential Free for All" --
a completely optional extension of the meeting for those interested. See
flyer for details.

Looking ahead, on October 28th, Dr. Levin will bring us tidings from across
the Atlantic for our late fall meeting. He is traveling to keynote for the
Fascia 2012 Congress in Brussels and to attend Euro BIG 4 in Ghent, Belgium,
so there should be a lot to tell!

You can see the lineup for the Brussels event at:

There will be a webinar from the BodyWork Professional Development group in
the UK on Sept 12th at 3 PM on the Pioneers of Biotensegrity.  
Let me know if you're interested. Please remember that my invitation to
schedule viewings of recordings of these webinars at other times is still

Two events which may be of interest:

Voice for Hope (Healers of Planet Earth) is conducting a Hope on the Hill
event Sept 12-14, wherein supporters and practitioners of Complimentary and
Alternative healing methods train with Hill lobbyists to become "Citizen
Healers,"  and then apply their skills to healing the body politic, speaking
with members of Congress to encourage transpartisan dialogue and awareness
of complimentary and alternative methods when considering healthcare issues.
I've participated in two of these, and I learn a lot each time, plus I get
to meet fascinating people from many branches of the complimentary,
alternative and natural healing modality family. more at:

and lastly, Kim Thompson reports that on Sept. 28th Pain Connection will be
sponsoring a Pain Awareness Month Symposium on Hope, Help and
Healing: Changing the Culture of Treating Chronic Pain. Dr. Jay Shah will be
among the presenters; those of you who saw the webinar recapping the 2012
Fascia Congress in Vancouver may remember his name from that. More complete
details appear below or at

a last note: in hopes of promoting biotensegrity, I've created a "blurb" to
add to my random sig file list in my email program. It's a sort of "elevator
statement" for biotensegrity:

Biotensegrity theory proposes that the common practice of using continuous
compression structures to model biological life is ill- founded and even
misleading, and that more valid and useful models will follow structures
characterized by discontinuous compression and continuous tension, also
known as "floating compression" or "tensegrity." For more info, see

Hope to see you soon!


(event flyer below)

Pain Connection Programs

Pain Connection is a 501(c)(3) whose mission is to help people with chronic
pain improve their quality of life.

Pain Awareness Month Symposium
Hope, Help and Healing: Changing the Culture of Treating Chronic Pain
9:00am-5:00pm   September 28

12320 Parklawn Drive
Rockville, MD  20852


Speakers include:
Jay Shah, M.D. Director, Medical Rehabilitation Training Program and Senior
Staff Physiatrist, Clinical Center National Institutes of Health, Bethesda,
MD Scientific Advances in Myofascial Pain from Peripheral to Central

David Keyser, PhD., Department of Defense Traumatic Injury Research Program,
Department of Military and Emergency Medicine, and Mary Lee Esty, LCSW-C,
Ph.D., President ofBrain Wellness and Biofeedback Center of Washington.
Research Results from Neurotherapy Treatment of Iraq / Afghanistan Veterans
with Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Pain

Tanya J. Lehky, M.D., Director, Clinical EMG Lab, National Institute of
Health, Painful Neuropathies: What We Know about Them and What We Need to

The program cost is $125. However, Pain Connection is committed to making
information accessible. If you would like to come and could afford to at a
smaller amount, please call  301-231-0008

Filling the Gaps in Pain Care
1:00-3:00pm  Fridays  12 October - 17 December

12320 Parklawn Drive
Rockville, MD  20852


Filling the Gaps in Pain Care is an 8-week program designed for people with
pain and their families to improve their ability to manage chronic pain more
effectively in collaboration with their health care providers, resulting in
an increased sense of well-being and improved quality of life.

Each week the 2-hour class, paced for people with pain, includes both
didactic and experiential skill building modules with an emphasis on
participants utilizing their own internal healing abilities.

Clients learn skills to manage pain each week.

Cost: $250 per person, which includes the cost of an initial interview,
manual and 8 sessions. Receive a $25 rebate if you attend all sessions and
return the 6 month follow-up forms. Payment must be made in full before
first class.

Some insurance companies do reimburse for this group. Pain Connection does
not take insurance, but will provide you with a receipt to give to your
insurance company.

If you would like to come and are facing financial challenges, please call
to discuss options: 301-231-0008


DC BIG (DC area Biotensegrity Interest Group) presents
a very special afternoon with
Stephen Levin, MD
for a session on
Jacobʼs Ladder: The Mechanics of Biologic Movement
When: August 19, 2012 2 PM- 5 PM Where: Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES)
Social & Academic Center 9101 Old Georgetown Rd. , Bethesda, MD, 20814
Contribution: $5.00 CASH (for FAES room fee).
Level: This is NOT a Level 1 presentation; it will be assumed that participants will already be familiar with biotensegrity theory. Please see biotensegrity.com if you are not familiar with the foundational material.
Topic: This is an entirely new presentation which explores four bar linkage, kinematic chains and their place in the study of biotensegrity. It offers a chance to go deeper into a key aspect of biotensegrity which is often missed or misunderstood.
Format: Because this presentation offers leading-edge material and will be discussing some fairly ineffable concepts, we will follow an unorthodox format for the session. First, Dr. Levin will go through the presentation start to finish. Next we will take a break and have a chance to stretch a bit, chat, and let the material sink in. Then, Dr. Levin will go through the presentation a second time, this time with the opportunity to pause for questions and comments. Constructive feedback will be welcome.
2-2:15 - Arrive, check in 2:15-3:00 - Presentation 3-3:30 - Meet & Greet; stretch, snack 3:30-5:00 - Presentation review with questions, comments and discussion
All Are Welcome
Please RSVP to Maureen or Susan
page1image16632 page1image16792
For more information on biotensegrity, please visit Dr. Levin’s website biotensegrity.com
Next DC BIG meeting: Sept. 30th, FAES 2-5 PM: Biotensegrity in Healing: Bio-Geometric Integration, Chiropractic work & Acupuncture


DC BIG June 2012

Have you heard about biotensegrity? Would you like to know more? We are DC BIG, a new and diverse group that gathers periodically to study it, experientially as well as theoretically. Please join us as we explore this fascinating theory, which offers a new biomechanical model for the body and all biological life.

Tensegrity is not an easy concept to grasp. It is best seen and felt.”
--Harvard University’s Donald Ingber, MD, PhD
Our next DC BIG meeting will help you do just that:
  •  Carol Boggs will lead us in building our own tensegrity models - materials provided!
  • Kim Thompson will guide us in movement explorations from the field of Spacial Dynamics ® and we’ll look at how this work relates to biotensegrity theory
When: June 10, 2012 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
Where: Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES)
Social & Academic Center
9101 Old Georgetown Rd. , Bethesda, MD, 20814

Contribution: $5.00 CASH (for FAES room fee).

All Are Welcome
Please feel free to bring tensegrities and related materials to share

To promote fellowship among the group, there will be space for participants to share business cards, flyers, etc.

Please RSVP to Maureen or Susan

From Graham Scarr’s web site; http://www.tensegrityinbiology.co.uk/

For the last few hundred years the bones of the skeleton have been considered to stack on top of one another like a pile of bricks and resist gravity through a complicated system of pulleys and levers. This is a building system common to man-made structures but it no longer fits with modern biology.

Tensegrity (tension-integrity) is a structural system recognised for its distinct compression elements that appear to float within a tensioned network. It is a most attractive proposition in living systems, because such structures automatically assume a position of stable equilibrium, with a configuration that minimizes their stored elastic energy. Tensegrity structures allow movement with the minimum of energy expenditure, without losing stiffness or stability.  Comparisons with biological structures show them both to have non-linear visco-elastic properties, with fluid-like movements that result from the integration of all components in the system.

Bio-tensegrity is increasingly recognized as a better way to understand biology, because it integrates anatomy from the molecular level to the whole organism.”

For more information on biotensegrity, please visit Dr. Levin’s website biotensegrity.com


The first DC BIG meeting:

Sunday, May 6th 2012 at 2:30 PM at La Madeleine on 7607 Old Georgetown Rd in Bethesda, MD -- a discussion of issues brought up by Dr. Levin's Biotensegrity Seminar at FAES in March. Please bring what you have in terms of notes and reflections and we will share improvisationally.

In his March presentation on Biotensegrity, Dr. Levin made several research references in his presentation ( Flemons, Martin, Gracovetsky, Poisson, Pollack, Mennell. etc;) and introduced several concepts (heart as a non-newtonian pump; phase transition cells; bone as a specialized condensation of fascia, negative Poisson's ratio, Hookean stress-strain curves). I have not gone through them all as of yet, but if you have time, I very highly suggest you look at

1) the videos on Dr. Levin's website of Dr. Daniele-Claude Martin showing how complex tensegrity structures can move and showing tensegral vs. non-tensegral movements of the neck (the last 2 videos on this page-thanks to Carol Boggs for this suggestion!):


2) Tom Flemon's "The Geometry of Anatomy--The Bones of Biotensegrity" available at

3) Dr. Serge Gracovetsky's presentation at the first World Fascia conference at HU in 2007, which is in 3 parts on youtube. I think it's in part 2 that he shows a tensegrity model of the spine :

...and please share any post-seminar research you've found to be useful!


Sent: Monday, April 23, 2012 10:13 PM
Subject: Announcing: DC BIG: Biotensegrity Interest Group

Dear Friends,

Announcing the new DC BIG (DC area Biotensegrity Interest Group)

In 2009 Daniel-Claude Martin, PhD, hosted the first BIG conference in
Europe. We don't have a US BIG  yet, but we're borrowing the name to
create DC BIG, which for the moment is a fledgeling yahoo groups
online discussion group. Let me know if you're interested in joining.

Note: you do not have to have a yahoo account, and you can elect to
get the email generated as it happens or as a daily compilation. I
believe that if you do have a yahoo account you can also elect to go
to a web page to read the discussions rather than receive it as email.

Looking ahead, Dr. Levin has indicated that he may be able to schedule
a day-long Biotensegrity Seminar in the DC area in the fall.

Hope this finds you all well!