Email Correspondence, after a weekend Authentic Movement workshop with Alton Wasson in NYC edited by Aileen Crow

Excerpts from an Email Correspondence, after a weekend Authentic Movement workshop with Alton Wasson in NYC. Alton started back in the 60’s with Ed Maupin (who was working with Mary Whitehouse) and with Janet Adler, in the 70’s. The exercise Viktor Raykin describes evolved over the years at the Contemplative Dance Week taught by Alton and Daphne Lowell, and was set up in this workshop by Eileen Kelly and debriefed by Alton.

Viktor Raykin writes: Alton Wasson, one of the veterans of AM, has visited New York City. His workshop last weekend was one of the most powerful in my life (I am relatively new to AM but have done a lot of other practices). Not to be too verbose I'll describe a process that has changed my view of the role of Witness. Participants were divided between 2 groups 4 in each, and given following roles:

A - Mover
B - Mirroring Witness: mirrors A, including voice expressions.
C - Expressive Witness: expresses in movement any impulses that may arise from witnessing A; anything is allowed but voice expression or physical interaction with A or B. (NB: it would be interesting to allow interaction between Cs of different groups)
D - "Regular" Witness.

Ds were placed in a separate part of the room dedicated to Witnesses. Bs and Cs moved freely in the space for the Movers, without preventing each other's moves or those of A’s.
Every 10 minutes, by the sound of a bell, roles rotated, i.e. B becomes A, C - B, D - C, and A becomes D. Every participant experienced each of the four roles. After the process had finished the group got in a circle, and each participant could share their own impressions about their own experiences.

I happened to start as C and finish as D, and "regular" witnessing gave me - for the first time - a real pleasure. My mind was stilled by moving in three other roles. My body was also loosened and "allowed itself" free moves (though with a lower amplitude, not to get distracted from observing the Mover), reacting to what I was seeing. I experienced freedom from the role of a Witness as I'd understood it (a composed, "dedicated" observer). I was relaxed, uninhibited and attentive at the same time.

One more discovery. As a C I was moving freely - and stayed in a quality contact with the Mover. I simply loved her - just because I was allowed to be myself, fully express myself while reacting to her moves. This experience goes far beyond AM as it teaches me the new way of a quality contact with another human in "ordinary" life. First thing that popped in my mind was the inhibition I habitually experience when relating to my father.
P.S. I had another profound moment in this process, and I think it is quite characteristic of it: a sense of continuum, of unity of all that was happening. I was struck by it when I was in the Mover role. I guess closing eyes was important for the experience: sounds, moves, energy, co-presence of all and everything. Ocean of Life. One Soul.
There is much more, but I'd like to stop here.

Later, Viktor writes: Yesterday morning I posted, in Russian, to LiveJournal “Authentic Move” dedicated to AM. I described briefly the ABCD process that has struck me most. It took them less than 24 hours (accounting for time difference between NY and Moscow) to try out the structure in their AM Laboratory in Moscow, Russia and post back a short but profound analysis!
Here is the link for your curiosity, but, sorry, it's all in Russian: Russian web page:

Blog editor writes: Can you translate it for the Blog?

Viktor answers: U-uph! I've done it - I've translated it into English as was requested. It was quite a job, but interesting, I've learnt something new. I am sure some of the expressions are not very English (you know, English is my 22nd language).

Any comments, questions, exclamations, mutilations, aggravations, condemnations, exaltations, solicitations - are cordially welcomed!

Here is a comment by Alexander Girshon from Moscow, written after they tried out the process in their "laboratory" next day after I posted.

Alexander Girshon comments: We tried this format out, 15 min in each role. Naturally, more attention was given to the less familiar roles: Mirror Witness and Moving Witness. As Sasha S correctly noted, these roles implicitly exist in the Witness, and this format allows them to unfold. Mirror Witness role allows to define more exactly physical side of the process, but seems to lessen the emotional side of contact. Moving Witness is a borderline role, as you don't stop asking yourself: am I moving from what I am seeing, or these are my personal movement associations? We observed 2 positions: identification (mirror variations) and complementarity (moving in counterbalance to the Mover). Essential contact (meeting of M&W) - or the absence of it - may happen in any of these roles. It was also noted that this format has under taste of performance art, and it would be nice to introduce in it a Meta-Witness as observer of the whole scene. All in all, thanks to Viktor and to Alton.

Germaine Fraser writes: Thanks, Viktor, for this great translation effort. The response from Alexis was very interesting. I was struck by the analysis aspect; the fuller experience (such as you described in your own experience impression) seemingly quite absent. Alton's universal question of 'how does this have to do with me' begs for us to be more whole and all-encompassing in our being when engaging in AM. Empathic compassion for self and others is an integral and necessary aspect of the work. Even though clear structures offer safety and often help create a container, analyzing a technique for its value as a structure solely, kind of misses the point of why we engage in this way.

It is a tribute to Alton that our weekend's experience was so expansive; he (and Eileen Kelly) model holding space in this complete way, infusing the movement/witness space with a sense of holism, allowing others’ (and their own) work to be deeply spacious and safe. I am certain this fact is quite grounded in longevity and decades of practice / trial and error. As simple as the form is, my sense is the 'normal' human factor response to a relatively new anything is prone to initially get bogged down in the 'technique' and structure before it is comfortable enough to allow for other. So be it. Aren't we lucky to be human and have the influences and opportunities we have?

All my best, Germaine

Viktor responds: Hi, Germaine, I totally agree. Alton and Eileen have created a wonderful field where we could work, and play, and experience. I felt truly safe to go as deep as possible, never felt a danger. There was a Field of Acceptance. I was also struck by the dryness of Alex's analysis, but I was told by my friend in Russia, who is a part of this AM Lab, that they use this sort of very concise formal report to inform those who missed the Lab about the general course of events. These reports are always dry and don’t contain any experiential / emotional stuff. This is important to know. I know that at least one participant in Russia had a very deep process, but it's up to her to share. I believe that absence of intellectual analysis was very important in our group. I also believe that absence of direct verbal sharing of witnesses to the movers gave a totally different slant to the process. These two factors allowed deep integration to happen effectively and safely.

Enough analysis!

Love! Viktor.

Lisa Fladager said...

Viktor, thank you. I feel changed and opened after reading your post. I can't wait to experiment with this! best, Lisa

1 comment:

Lisa Fladager said...

Viktor, thank you. I feel changed and opened after reading your post. I can't wait to experiment with this! best, Lisa