"AUTHENTIC" AS THE NEW FAD WORD by Aileen Crow with Carol Zahner

In the New York Times, in the Fashion section, Sunday, September 11, 2011, there was an article , "Authentic? Get Real" (click here), talking about the fad-like current use of the word "authentic" to describe themselves by many famous people.  Michelle Bachman said, "I am authentic."  The Pope talks about the challenge to be authentic and faithful.  Hilary Clinton said, "I believe in being as authentic as possible."  What does that mean?  The implication is that being “authentic” is better than—what?  Better than usual?  Better than others?  It implies that one is genuine, real, truthful and spontaneous, and not phony, fake, artificial, insincere, self conscious or pretending --- which, in the article, one professor calls ”calculated authority’, or “stage management.” 

Try saying aloud about yourself, "I am authentic."  To me, it just doesn’t ring true.  I asked a colleague to say that, and she laughed, saying, “I’m a work in progress.”  Proclaiming one’s authenticity can imply a hierarchy between those who are authentic and those who are not; between those who are superior and those who are inferior.  We are naturally authentic unless we've been traumatized.  How strange to brag about it.

I have always thought the use of the word authentic unfortunate for what we do in AM.  It no doubt implies that some movements are good, and others are bad.  I remember years ago, when my son Daniel, about seven, first heard the word “authentic ", (said in a tone of voice implying something wonderful) he made a grotesque face and gesture, and said, "Is this authentic?"  Just a kid, he got the moral implication.

When I am in Authentic Movement, I question constantly HOW DO I KNOW? when I feel I am moving authentically.  And when I witness, I question HOW DO I KNOW? when I judge that the mover is or is not moving authentically.  What are my criteria, and what am I projecting? There are a lot of different ways to sort.  (See Alton Wasson’s article, on “A Chest of Drawers,“ in contact Quarterly, Summer-Fall 2002, and my article on “Sensory Channels” in A Moving Journal, Fall-Winter 2002.)

I recently received from Patrizia Pallaro, who has written two important books about Authentic Movement, (, the recommendation of a phenomenally relevant article we should all read: "Is 'Authentic' a Meaningful Name for the Practice of Authentic Movement?"  The article is written by Dr. Eila Goldhahn, a long-time Dance and Movement Psychotherapist and Authentic Movement teacher, and it was published in the American Journal of Dance Therapy, 2009. http:/

Dr. Goldhahn goes into the philosophy of Authentic Movement in fine detail.  The history begins with Mary Whitehouse's combining of Jung's “Active Imagination” with dance movement.  Whitehouse called what she did “Movement in Depth”.  She was followed by Janet Adler, who called her form “Authentic Movement”.  Alton Wasson and Daphne Lowell call their version “Contemplative Dance/Authentic Movement.” (  Shelley Tanenbaum calls her kindred form “Intuitive Life Movement.”  (See A Moving Journal, Summer 2004.)  Arnold Mindell calls his Process Work approach “Sentient Awareness.”

Eila Goldhahn discusses how she arrived at her decision to discontinue using the term Authentic Movement, and instead, proposes an alternate term: "The MoverWitness Exchange," an egalitarian rather than hierarchal concept.

I believe what makes Authentic Movement so essential and much missing in our consensus reality, is that it is sensory based.  The body IS authentic.

To paraphrase Yeats, "Oh keep us from the thoughts we think in the mind alone.  Those who sing a lasting song sing in a marrow bone."  

1 comment:

Tommie said...

And so authentic is as authentic does.