I made this short film in June 2013 at the 6th Authentic Movement Laboratory, which took place in Minsk, Belarus. This is the annual meeting for Russian speaking practitioners of Authentic Movement. I used my camera for only one movement session.. as an "extra witness".. I am very glad to share this video with
My favorite line in Aileen's response to her birthday honors is:
"I read a quote from Marilyn Monroe, “Everyone’s a star and deserves the right to twinkle.”
Aileen shows us such a great richness of ways to twinkle. She uses authentic movement in combination with her many other studies of movement disciplines and her "insatiable curiosity and questioning." (description of Aileen in conversation with Paula Sager). She has travelled all over the somatic inquiry map. She reminds me of the diverse range of processes there are in authentic movement practices such as direct experiences, spiritual connections, creative enhancements, psychological explorations, artistic resources and her fun parts parties, Aileen often asks, "Who is here today?" to see which of her parts want attention. Alton Wasson in Contemplative Dance training might ask, "Which drawer wants to open in the many choices of drawers that might be explored in the body? The drawer of sensation might need to be explored or maybe just being aware of our joints or synovial fluid is the impulse today in a moment of movement." Same practice, but with so many different wonderful questions. And that might have been why I wanted to honor Aileen on the AM Community Blog. But it was not.
On the website I work to support Aileen's vision of a community without insiders/outsider factions. Aileen says, "I have “belonged” to many groups in my life, many of which gradually became Insider/Outsider pyramid clubs with increasing degrees of certification and fights over who’s in and who’s out. I am proud to belong to this loose group of uncertified, high quality Authentic Movers and Somatic Inquirers. I will do my best to help keep us inclusive, in the tradition set by A Moving Journal." My Contemplative Dance training suggests that the wisdom of the body extends to each person's own development and exploration of the way to use and teach an authentic movement practice. I might have wanted to honor Aileen for this idea, but I did not choose her for that reason either.
Aileen's clear sense of projection, as in her last sentence, "How is that about you?" could also be a reason to honor her because to honor her turns the honor back on to each one of us to find our own self appreciation and self love. And then we can also project into the richness of all Aileen's list so far of wonderful and awful parts and ask the question,"How is that about me as well?" Parts of me are also disgruntled, tired and pissed off, fiendish, oddball, decrepit, obstreperous, and Harpo? But this is also not why I wanted to honor her.
I wanted to honor her because her work as a volunteer for the AMC web site since 2006 has inspired me. She has done what I have been aiming to do by maintaining this website for the Authentic Movement Community. She has enthusiastically connected people to each other and encouraged them to write, or express their sense of how they use the authentic movement process. So many of the people who are movers in our directory, teachers in our teacher list, writers on our blog and for the Journal of Authentic Movement and Somatic Inquiry (JAMSI) are a part of what we do because Aileen suggested they might like to visit the site, draw a picture, write an article, think about a question, provide a service for us.
Of course I suggested her because she is 88 years young... and I wanted her thanked long before she is gone. But for me it is the inspiration behind my involvement in the website that she represents. Because she is so generous, it is easy to be generous. Because she writes so frequently, I feel free to write more often. Because she nudges me and others to write, I feel free to nudge others to write. Because she sees the artist in each of us, I feel freer to see my own creative forms as artistic expression and encourage these be put up on our blog. Because she does all this in her own unique way, I feel clarity about each of us using this website in our own way at our own pace. I see the AMC website as a very imperfect digital presence, enthusiastically waiting for our participation at the moment we feel moved to join or share or create an event or to write a blog post or a serious article to add to our community effort.
I have seen Aileen's enthusiasm catch and spread. We are over 700 on our email list. Help for the site comes from all over the world. Besides our main website there is a Facebook page with many young authentic movement enthusiasts. Aileen was happy to write a lengthy article for the newly established and well edited JAMSI. You can put her name in a search on the Authentic Movement Community Blog and see her many informal shorter written contributions. And her ideas, articles, and artwork just keep coming. Paula Sager and I recently watched her work on her calligraphy idea, drawing and redrawing until it felt just right to her.
Paula Sager watches Aileen work
One of my other volunteers was cautious about starting a process of honoring one person because so many people deserve to be honored. "How can we start a process to honor everyone who deserves? And not everyone knows or even likes Aileen."
Aileen tells us how to honor all who deserve and how to be kind to those inner parts and people we may not like. She says,"There are parts of me that might be considered “negative” which I want to include. These parts interest me mightily, and I‘m keeping them until I get all the good out of them."
In a recent conversation I will paraphrase something Aileen said, "Don't wait until you're 88 to find your own ecstatic inner witness, and to follow weird gestures in your body and recognize them as allies. They speak; they have their own agency, and their own spontaneous triumph."
Aileen's post traumatic 'Spontaneous Triumph'
So I hope to suggest honor for all by honoring Aileen, by owning our own positive and negative projections, by finding the deep wisdom in each of our own bodies, and by exploring our own questions in our own way. Aileen reminds us to notice all the stars that twinkle in the Authentic Movement Community all over the world.
~written in Contemplative Dance Week II at Hampshire College, July 2013
When I enter the space
it is already sacred. A song,
a people, a carrying.
Nothing needs to be done.
I join and carry the song
a while. The luxury. I can
just be in it and of it.
When the song ends it does not end.
The rhythm and harmony are still
here in echoes, in being.
Nothing to do, all is well,
all is safe.
At the end, strong running
currents around. I walk slowly, get
anchored near another mover.
She a rock, I a tree.
Still together but not touching.
Still in the running current.
First, I want to thank all my friends and colleagues for their appreciative comments. Everyone should have such an opportunity – to be showered with love and appreciation and to be able to process the feelings and thoughts that arise.
At first I was delighted, and cynical. I thought, “Well, people die around my age. They’re expecting me to die soon, so I’m glad they’re giving me a party now before I go, instead of a memorial after I’m gone.”
Then an odd saying popped into my mind. I don’t know where it came from: “Praise to the face is open disgrace”. I hunted it down on Google. It was Hemingway’s response to what he thought was excessive praise for his own war heroism. He said that all the soldiers deserved praise for their heroism, not just one person. Hemingway was glorifying war, but there is something about singling out one person for attention among such a sensational group as ours. And just recently, I read a quote from Marilyn Monroe, “Everyone’s a star and deserves the right to twinkle.” And for sure, our Authentic Movement community is full of amazingly wonderful stars, each one deserving special attention.
I have “belonged” to many groups in my life, many of which gradually became Insider/Outsider pyramid clubs with increasing degrees of certification and fights over who’s in and who’s out. I am proud to belong to this loose group of uncertified, high quality Authentic Movers and Somatic Inquirers. I will do my best to help keep us inclusive, in the tradition set by A Moving Journal.
Thank you all again for your kind words of being loved, wanted and appreciation.
When the Blog letters started to arrive, I thought, ”Wow, now I’m getting the praise I always wanted.” Soon I realized what I really wanted was my own self-appreciation, and that self-identifying myself as unloved, unwanted and unappreciated (UnUnUn) was past trauma-derived history, and far from the reality of the woman and artist I am now.
Today I am preoccupied with the bad news of the current war on women and the cruel attempts to do away with abortion, and birth control. I am ardently pro-choice, and I honor women’s right to choose if and when to have a child. I thank Planned Parenthood for doing their best to ensure that every child will be a wanted child.
Here they are, so far:
The Blog letters have certainly given me a large dose of feeling wanted, loved and appreciated. But I don’t want to be only the paragon they imply. There are parts of me that might be considered “negative” which I want to include. These parts interest me mightily, and I‘m keeping them until I get all the good out of them.
HARPO I had 12 pictures of Harpo around before the idea came that he was a projection I had not yet owned, a lusty, mischievous Part of me.
My OBSTREPEROUS Self is BIG, LOUD and not NICE.
My OBSTREPEROUS Self is BIG, LOUD and not NICE.
My DECREPIT Self donwanna always have to stand up straight. She sometimes likes to slump.
My ODDBALL Self is already one of my favorites. She delights in Oddity, mine and others’.
My FIEND Part is strong and fierce, and wants me to be more extreme!
My TIRED AND PISSED Part is tired and pissed about being old. She wants me not to act like an old lady, but to summon up the young-ness I still have plenty of.
My DISGRUNTLED Self wants me to Speak Up! Loud and Resonant!
Now, about the value of making Positive Projections, you all! So many of the lovely things you said about me are also you talking about yourself. So don’t give it all to me. “How is that about you?”
dear Elizabeth, I just wanted to send my grattitude to Aileen, directly from Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.This journal was and continue to be a place where I feel less lonely and I share some themes.
Hi, I would like to contribute the following to the writing on the Authentic Movement Blog honoring Aileen Crow. Thank you very much.
I'm super proud of the relationship Aileen and I have developed over the years. Her generous nature has encouraged a dynamic that has evolved from one of "teacher-student" to one of peers and genuine friends and has enabled us to grow together as the "parts" of each other that we truly are. The brilliance of her wisdom and experience is inextricably etched into my mental and physical consciousness. Aileen is a true goddess and will forever be one of my favorite and most cherished "parts" and I feel eternally grateful for that, and for her.
One of the many wonderful techniques Aileen has taught me is to help flesh out and explore my feelings on a certain topic or issue by spontaneously writing words or phrases which I associate with it, so in her honor, I've chosen her as the topic this time and listed some of the words and ideas that came to mind. Ideally I would like to write them in bright colorful crayons in a circle with her as the center, so while the limits of this format allow only a list, please picture them as I've just described!
Aileen has inspired me! When we worked together on the Blog she brought a wonderful, “why not” curiosity. The openness with which she approached our Blog work helped me expand my thinking about what might be possible…Along those lines, I paid her a visit a couple of years ago, thinking that we might do some movement together. On a whim, just before I left the house, I threw some of my drawings into my bag, (circles and spirals of different color patterns). Once at Aileen’s, as I looked at the wonderful calligraphy on fabric that she was doing, I pulled out my drawings. She generously went through every one, giving me such enthusiastic feedback…I was both touched and pleased. Ever since, inspired by her work and her enthusiasm, I have been incorporating lettering into my drawings. Aileen’s encouragement and wonderful witnessing attention, started me on a whole new path for which I am so grateful! Happy Birthday, Aileen! Love, Martha Lask
MARTHA LASK CONSULTING LLC
WHERE POSSIBILITIES TAKE SHAPE
120 West Mt. Airy Avenue
Philadelphia PA 19119
Organization Development and Coaching
Thank you so much for all this information! It was very useful to read material of Paula Seger. I know her great researching about Witness Consciousness. And I send my congratulations to Aileen Crow! I don't know her personally but when I read all these stories, I feel myself as a part of a big community..
Here, in Russia, in June we will organize the International Laboratory of Authentic Movement for the russian-speaking community. This is our annual meeting for people who practice the Authentic Movement. In this year it will be already the 6th meeting..
I send you warm wishes.
And thank you for all that you doing!
When I think of Aileen in my mind’s eye I see her big beautiful smile, then the sparkle in her eyes.
Both of which encouraged me to open up to myself and to her as my witness. Aileen was a most powerful guide for me into my internal labyrinth.
She so lovingly made space for me to move and to experience ways of relating to myself and to the world I did not know were possible.
She encouraged me. Was quiet with me. Laughed with me. Was amazed with me. Stood by me.
What a woman!
Thank you amazing Aileen! Sending lots of love,
Fiona Brandon, MA
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Offices in SF and Rockridge
Offices in SF and Rockridge
How perfect that your birthday is in May when life is unstoppably bursting forth.
How inconceivable that you are 88 years old—you are truly a perennial being!!
I have known and treasured you since the winter of 1986, when I arrived at your door as a wounded dancer
for an Alexander Technique session that would change my life. Later that evening, I wrote in my journal,: "I have found a teacher."
I also wrote. "She wore mauve pants and a loose flowing shirt and looks like she's eternally been the way she is now."
Maybe that was my way, then, of describing the extraordinary quality of your presence; your lit up and warm interest in surprising nuances and details of my (and many others) inner body, mind, and life experience.
I cherish your big open heart, your laughter and little yummy sounds when something nourishes or delights you, your deep and abiding curiosity, and your attention to and love for our barely discernable (at first) oddities, our hidden parts longing for visibility, eager to be known.
And I remember, at the end of my experience with you that first day, words that come to me often:
TO BE CONTINUED......
There are so many memories, thoughts and feelings that come to mind when I think of Aileen.
My mind pops with memories:
· Meeting Aileen for the first time in Manhattan where she taught me “the spiral!” I walked around for days feeling new!
· Aileen’s relationship advice: Aileen pointed out to me gently and kindly that joints work best when there is space between them! She also encouraged me to give good relationships a chance – and that has led to a happy, twenty-four year marriage.
· Sentics, art, color, tears, laughter, “kitten piles” and “lily time” . . .
· Watching a video together of women during natural childbirth that deeply and positively influenced the birthing experience of my sons.
· Her love toward me- especially when I have been sad or vulnerable:
· Her full, soft, enveloping hug when my cat, Beauty, died.
· The tone of her voice when I was going through a hard time with one of my sons
· The sense of always being seen and heard when in her presence.
The things I learned from Aileen make up the essence of who I am as a therapist, but most importantly, Aileen opened up a new freedom of movement for me – and made room for my spirit and my joy in the room. She welcomed and encouraged the 20-year-old woman I was to be bigger and louder and less apologetic.
My experience of Aileen (expressed in sound and movement) is to have a soft, expansive, open chest and loose “figure 8” hips in a room full of women’s laughter and tears - followed by a good meal with chocolate for dessert!
Thank you, Aileen!
Lou Ann Baylock