It did not really occur to me what a delight it would be to create a presence for the Authentic Movement Community on the web. When we began this venture in a brainstorming session of the International Gathering in June 2006, I only knew a handful of folks from our community. Four years later I am familiar with over 400 names of people who participate on some level with the practice of Authentic Movement. Renewals for the Directory have been steady with over 25 updates in the last few months. Thank you for keeping your listing up to date with us! Not a month goes by that one and usually many more write me to express their gratitude for the work of the site. For example the response to our anniversary notice included these notes:
I am so grateful for the Community, for the first year with the A Moving Journal and now for the blog. I would love to help more, but I don´t know how because my life in Brazil is really busy. I have no money to support. My way is to continue the work here, to create a group which is studying the practice and its theories and in a long term, I would love to have here in Rio like a Conference. And I have preparing myself to write more. Thanks Elizabeth for everyhting and share my gratittude to everybody. Authentic Movement became my first teaching and practice. A basic practice for creating also other practices .... Much love, Soraya
Wow Elizabeth, you guys have been doing such a huge service to the world AM community, and doing so with grace, insight, and solid, creative and clear principles. real leadership. congratulations and thanks and kudos to you all. truly! Daphne Lowell
Would love to contribute - will send (small) donation today - I don't take part much but so need your presence! Thank you for being there. Kedzie Penfield
A gift was given in our name to provide seeds for one acre community garden through the Seva Foundation.
So . . . . I am the one who gets to hear all this gratitude and take it in, but I hope that you also get the message sent back from me and all of us who work on the site of how grateful we are for our community.
Sending the message back to all of you ... Thank you! Elizabeth
I wrote an article on www.choreograph.net about my experience of witnessing in the Maya Lila performances of Joan Davis, an Irish choreographer who works with Authentic Movement. As a participant-researcher, I have tried to deepen my understanding of Davis’ approach by interacting with the work on a practical level. In attending training modules with Davis, I have been particularly fascinated with her emphasis on tracking and reflecting on experience through different layers of witnessing. This is what I hope my writing grapples with, as I seek to find a way of articulating my relationship with the work, rather than attempting to document Maya Lila in an objective way. Please follow the link if you would like to read the full article, and I welcome any responses. http://choreograph.net/articles/article-witnessing-somatic-experience-in-maya-lila
© 2010 Emma Meehan
A meditation on stacked block cushions. Wide-legged Indian stance by a sunny window turns to a self-healing session, going over every nook and cranny of the body’s terrain. Everything gets smoothed out and over. Feels so good.
I begin walking the bar and the wall. It becomes walking my life continuum. I am touched by how I/She loves me best. Knowing exactly how to satisfy, entertain, listen and respond. It’s beautiful. I become a gorgeous lover, an open wanderer/adventurer, a playful/fun mate, an astute see-er/listener. Back and forth I go, sometimes forward or backward, sometimes sideways. The light contact with the bar and the wall is imperative.
After many many back and forths I can leave the bar and travel the wall, delicately mostly, but sometimes with great strength and athleticism; pushing, leaning, resisting. I am the wall, I am the body resisting the wall, I am the folding into the wall. It’s all lovely, nourishing.
I am the best person I know. I love her so. I have loved walking this life with you. She knows me so well, can give me exactly what I most need and want when I am engaged with her. Time spent with her is pure joy, pure rightness. I even love that she is not perfect, and am charmed by her sometime misalignments, mistakes; she elicits generosity when her woundedness surfaces. I feel so grateful for everything that she is, that I am. So lucky! I feel excited about living with you for the rest of my life.
The Vienna AM group that I participated in last year came up with the idea of doing a long distance AM session and I joined them.
Saturday July 31st 2010, 08:00
With my dog I go for a long walk in the woods. The weather is beautiful, after some cool rainy days. The sky is blue, there is a wonderful smell in the air and the trees are comforting.
The candle is lit. I am imagining the room in Vienna where we all moved together for days last year. I see faces and hear sounds. I feel human beings around me and I feel protected in and from that image.
1st movement 10:35 to 10:55
The operation on my cheek 4 months ago has not allowed me to go into full body movement – I am a little anxious about what will happen. My skull is moving very slowly in my hands – I am very aware of the skin and the bones. There is a big range of movement in the skin. The skull is hard and strong. My face starts to relax and muscles after muscles let go, my breathing is getting deeper and deeper. The spine moves delicately like a snake. Slowly and gently my whole torso and my head are moving in that position, while the arms and legs become part of the movement. It is like being in a fluid state, very comfortable and safe, satisfying, calming and soothing. I am in a silent trance.
After getting up I feel an ongoing movement in my head, my eyes are seeing from deep inside into the room, my breathing is carrying me. My body feels light and at ease. My mind is peaceful.
2nd movement 11:05 to 11:25
I am very aware of being „on“ the world. I see the world like a big living ball and I feel very connected with it. I am standing on my sheepskin, my feet far apart. My body is searching for its perfect balance. The arms move up and out, the fingers are streching out. My body is aligning itself like the needle of a compass. It wants to go into length, width and depth as much as possible in these moments. All the bones of the skeleton become very clear. I see it like a drawing in motion, in the position of the Vitruvian Man, in the famous drawing by Leonardo da Vinci.
The heart beat is strong and the breathing gets very deep, it moves my belly. What strong muscles! I am representing a priestess, a goddess or a shaman. It feels very archaic. It is not about me. I am representing someone who makes people aware of what „IS“.
It is the big IT IS, the big I AM, the big WE ARE.
The moving has been very interesting, satisfying and fulfilling. Thank you all for being there and giving me the chance to move with you in time and space.
I have sent my writing to the Vienna group and asked that I hear from all of them about their experiences. (Maybe to be shared on this blog).
Julia Morozova said...
Thank you for sharing this, Annette!
i would like to share my experience, I joined the session from my place.
I close my eyes and listen to my body. My body feels a bit numbed, as if I am still sleepy. In my mind I am making a connection to the people moving at the same moment in Vienna and in other places.
There are sensations in my fingers and palms as if they are electrified. I start moving my hands, observing how these sensations change. The image comes to me as if there are strings connected to my fingers. i think of movers in Vienna, but suddenly images from my dreams of the last days are coming up. I have dreamed about people I saw for the last time about 20 years ago and didn't hear anything from them anymore, but in my dreams these persons were very important, it felt like they brought very important message with them. I feel excitement and sadness. I spread my arms and stand up, I am turning around the room with spread arms, trying to reach not only the ones who are far way from me in the space, but also the one who are left in the past. the feeling of sadness is still present but is getting lighter, i feel released. Tears and smile. Hope. Gratitude
Thursday, August 12, 2010 7:20:00 PM EDT
Donna Kuhn asks:
How is this done long distance?
Friday, June 10, 2011 5:27:00 PM EDT
I enjoyed reading your writing. A reminder that movement and witnessing happens minute to minute, it is as easy as bringing awareness to it....Corlene
Sunday, August 8, 2010 2:41:00 PM EDT
Your description of moments of just being with awareness inspires me to cherish such treasures.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010 12:51:00 PM EDT
Folding back the covers more with reluctance than gentleness, I pull on my fleece robe and secure the tie at my waist. My left hand taps into the blackness that is a chair, locating some slipper socks. I bend to put them on and proceed to the door, turning the knob to close it behind me as I head down the stairs.
My mind presses forward, “Well, if you’re going to be up, you could answer those emails and read the article on…”
I pass through a lower doorway on the staircase and scuff across the dining room into the living room, pulling closed yet another set of doors separating me and sleep.
I raise the blinds at the bay window, drawing in light amid the blackness. I breathe. I sigh. I don’t have the slightest idea why I have lain awake since 12:23AM. The mind has kept running…decisions…issues…conversations…even existential matters. Arms break through this cloud hanging over my head. My back arches slightly and then curves like a silky snake.
I come to hands and knees. Cat/cow yoga stretches move through my spine and back. I rest in child’s pose. My mind wants to grab onto something known here and I wonder if I should go ahead and work on a yoga lesson plan for later in the week? I seem wide awake. My mind feels clear. Or does it?
I close my eyes with a gentle intention. I want to be with my body. I invite the mind to rest. I kneel then, again arching my back slightly. Arms lift. I have an image forming of lifting weights. In my arms I feel resistance…
I lean over, ‘washing my hands’ of “it”…slowly, deliberately. There then is an interlude on my back. Something is gentle and opening. Movements are more unstructured. I lose a sense of specifics playing through my body.
To use Janet Adler’s terminology, in the next pool I remember, I am on hands and knees, my belly hanging down. I shake back and forth, then wildly throw my weight from side to side. Hair sweeps my face and shoulders like hard rain on a car windshield.
I pause. I feel my heart beat. The living room feels too small. I want to run. Instead, I move on knees like a bull—I bounce into the side of the sofa, several times then I slide my head down between my breasts and suck air from deep in my lungs. Exhaustion spreads over my shoulders. There is a sense of wasted energy…something about futility…loss…a scattering. Now seated on my knees, hands massage my head. Then I drop to the floor, knees bent. My head is in my hands.
I roll to my right, hands gathered at my heart. Nurture…care…ease…my breath changes.
I lie still and sense something within that is forming around a need in my life. I lie still, being with it all until it is clear. My body speaks.
I rise slowly after a few more minutes. My breath has slowed. My body feels relaxed and slightly heavy. I pad back upstairs through the three doors…I sleep almost immediately.
I’m not sure how many of us move in the middle of a night or use Authentic Movement to treat insomnia. However, I would welcome other’s insights and experiences.
I am not a scientist but I am intrigued by how a few moments of being with my body has repeatedly, on many occasions, calmed my whole being and restored a natural balance. I sense these movements in the night come more easily perhaps because I am more tired and my mind is less guarded. I also sense that night itself pulls me inward, in the quiet and darkness.
On night duty, if I allow it, my body shares what it is holding. Whether I give it a detailed witness or simply allow a general sensation to come, the time offers me release. Something shifts whether named or not.
The sessions in these night meanderings are often brief, each interlude lasting perhaps ten or twenty minutes. Many times I don’t jot anything down. The next morning there may be some details, or not. But I do in all cases, find rest and because perhaps I gain an inner congruence, I often feel less fatigued…certainly more than I might if I simply remained awake in bed, without the “night rising”.
Mie Sato said...
there have been times also awake in the middle of the night when I listen and follow my body impulses. I do not get out of bed..I lie there quietly until my body finds what it needs. Sometimes it is a rocking motion from side to side from vigorous to softly. Other times it could be shaking out limbs as if the days energy was caught in the muscles of my legs preventing the ability to surrender to deep sleep....Recently my mind decided that being without a lover did not mean that I had to do without tender touch.I started with my right hand following the skins surface down my left arm, traveling over my body like a forgotten landscape. I allowed myself to linger when the movement needed repetition. This became a loving experience of touching myself as I would like to be touched ending with a strong pulse deep in my chest. Then I lay quietly and fell into a deep sleep.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010 7:52:00 AM EDT
What a beautiful vignette by Roberta and comment by Mia. Using mindfulness and embodiment to integrate deep layers of the psyche and body remains my favorite path. This includes writing and painting and making music. It is so joyful to be free from judgment as you observe your body and allow it to be the observed while your witness consciousness remains the observer.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010 12:46:00 PM EDT
Really appreciate this post and the following comments. Since reading, I have practiced Authentic Movement when I can't sleep. Not sleeping has been a bit problem for me when I am anxious or stressed, and I am amazed how this helps me to switch from a chattering brain to mindful awareness even in the dead of night. I step out of bed and lie on the floor, waiting for movement impulses, my breathing changes, then often movements arise and finally I crawl back into bed and drift off to sleep.
Thursday, December 2, 2010 9:15:00 AM EST
In the movement session, I am trying to find my agility and my “dancers body”. I’m telling my body how it should be moving, but my body is continuing to feel the way it feels. Finally I give in to being where I am: swollen belly and breasts, feeling disconnected.
Gradually my body begins to express how different parts are feeling. They want to
be touched. My hands reach out to read and accept exactly how each part is feeling.
Through the wisdom of my hands, I have the sense of being connected to an ageless wisdom that knows exactly how to heal. I try a few undiscovered and exactly perfect touching techniques that have unexpected depth, nuance, rhythms, pressures, lightnesses, and off-the-body finger dances. The area being addressed kisses and is kissed in perfect unity.
It dawns on me that I have been doing this healing dance for others for twenty-five years! Why do I forget to do it for myself?
My hands remember they have the skill to hear and channel what my body is longing for. Touching and receiving become the meeting place where anything and everything can happen, especially the miraculous. My belly burps out its discomfort, and I am once again whole and healed by simply moving authentically.
Thank you to all who share these circles and these depths with me, and who continue to create safe spaces and havens of communal dance.
© 2010 August 7, 2010
The workshop begins in Athens with three leaders, Alton, Dennis McCarthy and Sil Reynolds. We are in a basement conference room way below the Parthenon. We will use Homer's Odyssey as the backdrop, invocation for movement, dreams and sand play. Often this is way too intense a story for me and I just don't go there with the story or the group. I can't get my mind around drowning Odysseus or monster plagued Odysseus or visiting the house of the dead Odysseus. Many in our group explore glorious fire filled, terror inducing monsters. My images are uninspiring to me.
But the story fills our dreams and morning movement sessions come alive for me with growling back scratching bears and loosening senovial fluids in my stiff joints as my jet lag lessens. I find some new inner voices and landscapes to add to my inner child, inner elder, and slowly quieting inner critic. Other dreamers dream of a divine child and this inspires me with help from Dennis to explore an inner wise child who does not need care. This image side steps my obsessive questioning of why I can't get enough nurturance to heal old neglect. The image helps me remember a place inside that does not feel needy and has always felt just wise and full and beyond beautiful.
Sil reminds us each day that Penelope is waiting and weaving for twenty years while Odysseus adventures; the capital “T” feminine archetype. When Alton reads the last night of the couple's reconnection, the inner romance, inner marriage of male and female finds a sensual landscape in my body where action and waiting, striving and grieving, sailing and sitting, traveling and being home meet in inner recognition of all the parts of the self that love to be bedded in a deeply rooted olive tree.
Another mover and I do pair witnessing in the Aegean/Mediterranean waters of our secluded alcove on Paros. In my imagination we are dolphins and fetuses in deep green and blue enclosures or incubators. My sand play partner and I create scenes with balloons and edges and roots, monster eyes that swirl in our dreams and imagination and then for real as we have chosen live snails for the eyes that move off center as we work. We find big bellies, thunder bolts and veils in the rocks, devouring dogs and Poseidon's angry face. All the beauty of the Greek landscapes become our projective field. So we indulge the sweet practice of “in my imagination” and “if this were my dream” every day until lunch.
It is hard to travel with a group of 18; herd into cars, find restaurants, to order and split the bill fairly. It takes us until the last days to order just what each want, to eat what we want from our own plate and then let it go around the table for others to taste. Amazingly spiced chick peas, mild anchovies, zucchini balls, rooster in a mild red sauce, rabbit, chicken souvlaki, honey dipped deserts, local soft cheese, local wine made by the waitresses father, are sampled around until all are much too full. We order less as the days pass, but we are fuller at the end.
There is a challenge, a never-ending game, being in the abyss between having a sensation and naming it.
Why would we write about the 2009 Vienna International Authentic Movement gathering in Vienna in March when it took place last July? Maybe because we are looking forward to the 2010 gathering. We remember moving together, thinking about the perspectives of developing practices, skills and understanding what we call “the miracle” of Authentic Movement.
The Second International Gathering of Authentic Movement took place again in Vienna, Austria in July 2009. This time there were nineteen people from twelve different countries: Germany, Austria, the
The International Meeting of AM lasted four and a half days and maintained a very full schedule. The first night we started with an Authentic Movement “long circle”. The following days there were two sessions each day. A warm-up starting each session was offered by one of the participants. The group decided on the form for each following session in the day based on the individual state and needs of participants. One evening our Brazilian colleagues, Soraya Jorge and Guto Macedo, showed us the video of their work and spoke of their dance projects. On another day, on the initiative of Alexei Konstantinov (Minsk), a group discussion took place regarding methodological issues of the practice. There was a lot of professional as well as interpersonally warm and supportive interaction.
Following are the experiences from three of the attendees:
This was the second peer-group gathering that I attended. The first hours in the therapeutic centre Gersthof, were filled with the joy of reconnecting with old friends and the anticipation of meeting new people. I knew some things about the new participants from the impressive mail introductions. I was very excited to meet and communicate, talk, move, and witness with people who had years of training and practice in AM and other fields of movement and dance therapy.
It was remarkable to me, that the most used form was a 'long circle'. We did not plan it in advance, but by the middle of
During the sessions, I faced some moments in practice that were new for me. For example, one participant asked the circle of witnesses to make some space for moving outside the circle—behind the witnesses, so if one had a need to move there s/he could do so. Another participant noticed that in her practice there was an 'official third role' in addition to the mover and the witness. This being so, if a person in her/his process couldn't stay in the witness position, but couldn't be a mover either, s/he could choose the role of the one 'sleeping 'outside the circle. I do not know how this fits in with the classic canon of AM, but I think sometimes it could be the safest option in some situations.
The discussion initiated by Alexey Konstantinov, revealed that we have learned the practice in slightly difference ways, not the core of the discipline but some details of the form. These tiny details, such as how the mover begins the process, (ie: sliding to the floor from her place with eyes closed, taking a place not far from her witness, or going to the place where something "caught" the attention when s\he was a witness) were in question. The language of witnessing was also a question. Do we say, "I see the mover", or "I see you", or "I'm the witness who sees the mover." Of course we asked ourselves, which version is "the right one"? We came to the conclusion, that awareness is most important in that every word and action has a function that impacts the movers and the group process. We then as a group, could find and commit to solutions that were safe and supportive to our process. Finding time for the discussions was difficult. That is the common problem at such gatherings, to find time for everything: for more AM-sessions, for the discussions, and for the integration of one's own process.
Also the witnessing styles present at this gathering I would call poetic. In a large group setting where there is not much time for the detailed sharing, there begins the process of crystallization of many sensations, movements, images and feelings in a few capacious words. The witnessing remained full of sensation, and that was for me the breathtaking process of creating the space of shared experience. This is a space where everyone could see and be seen, as well as feel and share with others. It was like poetry. My experience was that witnessing sometimes became the form of a poem.
This meeting was one of the most supportive events of the year for me, and I am grateful to all those with whom I shared this experience.
“To write about a peer group with the understanding that I am myself a member of a peer group for two years is important, as it clarifies and makes the practice of Authentic Movement more conscious, more valuable and grounded not only in the body, but also in words. The format requires sufficient maturity and elaboration (or desire to move in that direction), the ability to take responsibility, not only for one’s own process but also for the process happening in the group as well. This is a group without a leader. What does it mean? In the group with a leader, we are completely, feeling it within, sharing with others and learning to see and be seen. In general, it can be called a learning process where the formation and development of “Authentic Movement skills” takes place. The leader teaches, directs and is responsible for group dynamics. He/she leads the process. In the peer-group, leadership as I understand it is distributed among group members who possess the ability to see the process and talk about it outside the language of the projections, based on the deep experience of the body. This is the language of respect and trust for others. By following the rules drawn up by the group, we have the ability to discuss and follow the unfolding process. I often have brought to the group’s attention that we should not move further until we have specified all the nuances to achieve the necessary safety to start the movement again. Even if one member feels unsafe, the group takes this into account and looks for the most appropriate practice for the present session.
Yes, we practiced most often in a long circle, a breathing circle with a bit of dyad work. Why did most people prefer the long circle? I think it gave everyone in the group process support and allowed themes to unfold, giving them space to grow and gain strength. The long circle gave us the freedom to balance between the roles of witness and mover, assessing the needs to move or to be seen. Dyad work at the beginning of the process served as a good start and established the sufficient level of confidence in the group. There were warm-ups in pairs that held the same authenticity felt in AM dyad work.
Yes, it is true we were all from different schools, from different countries and even continents, but we were sharing a universal language of movement, scooping it from the depths of our own experience—the wisdom of ours bodies. Of course it is important to verbalize the details of the practice again and again, the process of formulating the rules for the practice, by referring to the foundational principles laid down by Mary Whitehouse, Janet Adler, and others whose work is now (to the great joy of the many of us who do the practice) available in the printed form.
In spite of the fact that the fundamental rules are the same for many people practicing AM - the nuances and the details can be determined by each group separately; the group develops, breathes, grows and can experiment with different forms of practice. This is what I found and became open to. I am glad that my understanding of the AM practice is resonant, on the same rails so-to-speak with those at the conference, giving me the possibility to “move myself” further.
And, of course, I would like to thank Irina Biryukova who conveys the tradition of Authentic Movement in the form in which it is proposed by Janet Adler, Joan Chodorow, Tina Stromsted and the others. I also want to thank my peer group in Moscow, which continues to move and be moved.
After a wonderful description to our meeting in Vienna in the year 2009 from Yulia and Elena, I am bringing some words with the intention to participate in this written piece. I feel a great honor to be part of this Gathering and appreciate their impulses to give and shares words from our time together.
All my work as a movement specialist is profoundly touched by the discipline of Authentic Movement. The way I learned and the way I´ve been developing it in Brazil is an inner/outer dialogue creating new avenues in life. To see, perceive and sense the other in me, and the flowing of invisible and visible movements, have been themes of investigation for me in teaching and performing. Through AM, I experience my body is in the presence of not knowing, embodied experiences of unnamed sensations, life and death in gestures of time, connecting with the spirits in the cells of my whole body.
I hope in the future Authentic Movement Gatherings in Vienna (2010), I will be able to collectively touch the deep extensions of Moving Thoughts*, and sensitive dances. The beauty that comes from sensorial movements, whether they are in silence, in explosive gestures or in a loving, reflective container for our art, becomes a capacity to own and to relate to judgments, thoughts and sensations as a vibrating tune in relationship.
The big event felt in my heart from this Gathering, is to have met people who have experienced Authentic Movement and who love the work. Also, it was wonderful be able to see our differences and similarities, and learn how Authentic Movement expands our relationships and expressions in the world.
Even when tired, I never feel tired when I am at an Authentic Movement retreat. I witness myself embracing my limits and my deep will to gain inner and outer volume, space and time-- stretching possibilities to walk the path of not-knowing. As witness, as mover, with no separation between functions, but conscious of my role in the circle, I interweave personal and collective, solitude and togetherness, closed eyes and open eyes as a way to transform dance in a state of presence. Dance transforms us in this way as well.
My deep interest is to share our creative work as teachers of the form, as therapists, as people influenced by Authentic Movement.
*‘Moving Thought. Movement that is sensation and thought in the search for its own pathways of existence, embodying different forms of being art and life, of observing, deconstructing and creating new patterns. Movement that is spontaneous gesture, the instant before it even happens. A gesture that reveals a fine texture provides meaning without a logical form, capturing the gaze of the observer (in the moment when he meets with the one who performs the gesture). Hence a new question emerges: what unfolding, expansions and possibilities of Moving Thought can arise from such given place? (part of final text from a Specialization in Dance / Therapy - Brazil).