Dedication to Martha Ayres from Alison Buck

Dedication to Martha Ayres
from Alison Buck
November 2, 2016

In the wake of International Authentic Movement Day, when we honor the contribution of Mary Starks Whitehouse and share our experiences and thoughts in recognition of what she has given us through “Tao of movement,” I wish to offer a contribution to the Authentic Movement Community web site, both monetarily and by way of a personal dedication.

My very good and long-time friend, support, colleague, and mentor, who was also my Jungian therapist and dream analyst for mort than 32 years, died on the 18th of August, 2016.  She had been diagnosed 10 months earlier with cancer.

Though I did not realize it then, the last day I saw Martha in therapy was just over a year ago in October of 2015.  The unanticipated day I learned she had cancer, after which I would not be able to see her again as my therapist, was just a year ago.  I had initially hoped she would recover, at least enough so I’d be able to come see her again regularly in some capacity.  But that, sadly, was not the case.

While I did have several opportunities to briefly see my deeply loved friend during the spring and early summer, I did not have the opportunity I so wanted, to bid her a proper good-bye.  And very soon after Martha’s passing, a crisis arose within my own family that even made it impossible for me to touch into my grief over losing Martha.  My experience has given me pause – to think about pursuing those things in life that feel most meaningful, and to have the awareness to realize in the moment, which things are.

Why have I chosen our Authentic Movement Community as the place where I will share my dedication?  Because the deepest of connections I feel with Martha evolve from her dedication to the process of individuation, her expertise as a Jungian therapist, her gifted dream analysis and guidance in the world of active imagination, her devotion to the wisdom of one’s body, and her championing of the wounded female.  All of these are gifts I received from her, and these gifts in turn led me to reach toward, and receive the gifts of Authentic Movement, twenty years ago.

Martha also had done Authentic Movement at some point, I understand.  I think there was very little that relates to the individuation process through one’s body that Martha has not done!  There were times that I asked her to be my witness, within the structure of Authentic Movement, which she gladly did for me.  And there were many, many times when I would bring her something I had experienced, written, or drawn from my Authentic Movement sessions elsewhere, and she would again act as my witness for these.  All have been such rich experiences, that I miss dearly.

In October, I attended a retreat in the Discipline of Authentic Movement in WatertownMassachusetts.  There I finally had the time and space to open up to the depth of loss I feel for Martha, and I had the safety of the container to allow the feelings to come up in me and pass through.  A most potent realization from my retreat experience is that I am not alone in grieving about not having a proper goodbye:  I hold a deep sense that so too does she.

In writing this dedication, I realize that Martha Ayres was to my life what Mary Starks Whitehouse has been to the Authentic Movement Community.

To Martha and in the witnessing of all who will read this, my deepest love and gratitude.

Reflections on October 4, 2016

Marisa Naspolini said...

I'm planning a session with a small group on October 1st in Florianópolis, South of Brazil. I wish to create a group for current practice. We will be connected to the whole community during the week. Congratulations for the idea of celebrating October 4th.Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 9:28:00 PM EDT
Thank you for our first comment for 2016.  How are you planning to celebrate Mary Starks Whitehouse this year?   ~~~E

I have no one to move with, so today I began to moved with camera as witness. I will do this till the 4th of October and see waht transpires after that. I will move to feel the dream, dream to feel the movement. Also it is my birthday on the 2nd of October. My teacher, mentor who introduced me to AM, has her birthday on the 4th. So it is a Special time for me, thank you and blessings Maria

A small group of us will gather at Genesis Retreat center in Westfield, MA and move our wishes and dreams for the whole community.  We loved doing this last year.   ~~~Elizabeth

Mary Starks Whitehouse…and Her Teachers by Lisa FladagerWe no longer know it, but there was a time when movement was our language. We were undivided. - Mary Starks Whitehouse
Mary Starks Whitehouse (1911 -1979) is considered to be the foremother of the many streams of practice that comprise Authentic Movement. Mary was a modern dancer who studied with dance pioneers Mary Wigman and Martha Graham--both strong, innovative choreographers who created dances that accessed the archetypal and mythological realms in the studio and on stage.
The powerful emotional experiences that Mary had in her own body as she danced with them and the equally powerful experiences she witnessed in her own students in the studio piqued her curiosity, leading her to pursue study and training in CG Jung's methods of analytical psychology, active imagination and dreamwork at the CG Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland.
As these two streams, one sourced from the emotional/psychological/soul level and the other from the dance/embodiment level, coursed through and blended within her, alchemy happened. Gradually, a way of working evolved, both new and ancient, born in mid-twentieth century California! Mary discovered a way of being, moving and relating to body and soul as one, as alive, as inseparable. This unity and inclusivity of body+soul was something that had been missing in the western versions of dance and psychology, but was beginning to re-emerge in early to mid-twentieth century through Mary and others.
Mary discovered and spent years developing her unique way of being+moving while in the presence of an other (teacher/witness) that was genuine, real and uncontrived. She called her way of moving/being/witnessing "authentic" and "movement-in-depth".
When the movement was simple and inevitable, not to be changed no matter how limited or partial, it became what I called 'authentic'- it could be recognized as genuine, belonging to that person...[a] truth of a kind unlearned, but there to be seen. - Mary Starks Whitehouse
Yearly, on Mary's birthday, October 4th, the international Authentic Movement Community comes together to mark and honor the contributions of this amazing pioneer! I hope you'll join us.
If you are an AM practitioner/mover, you can post your dreams for Authentic Movement to the Authentic Movement Community Blog, or share some of your embodied writing or images. We invite you to join the online community gathering around this powerful, nourishing and transformative practice.
Reflections on Mary Starks Whitehouse and her disciples:
Mary's practice of Authentic Movement taught me that I am intrinsically my own expert.  I am the one that knows my Self best.  There is no hierarchy of knowing better inside of my selves, or outside of myself.  We are each our own experts to trust our own knowing.  We are each our own best experiment.  I don't have to strive for what I am, rather trust that which makes me what I am.
In the mover/witness relationship, Mary's disciples have taught me to respect the power of the mover's experience and how they are transformed by it.  The witness is witnessing their own response to it, only to support the mover's integration, retelling and removing of it as a record of their owning the experience.  The mover is the one dialoguing with the witness, not the witness dialoguing with the mover.  I mean this in that the witness has their own vibrant experience that they learn to contain to create safety for the mover, choosing to not project the witness experience upon the mover.  The rich interplay between the mover and witness creates an individual intimacy of depth and history in each of them if practiced over and over.
I don't necessarily mean with the same dyad, but as a practice in each individual, and their relationship to the bigger world.
Katherine Chowanec
10-02-2016  after moving at Genesis

From Paula Sager and Lizbeth Hamlin

Intending to honor Mary Starks Whitehouse and join all who deeply love and practice Authentic Movement, we, Lizbeth Hamlin and Paula Sager, planned a time to move and witness with each other.   After many years, of exploring this long-distance form, we found a familiar and yet freshly new energy emerging.

We each light a candle on our altars....


Rising wick of light
I stand as
eyes close
hands pressed in prayer pose
as nostrils breath warm
air felt on fingertips

Squeak of familiar floorboard
under my right bare foot
heel pressing slowly
an ancient song returning
releases up through
my body.

Flat palms open
to a small column
of light entering
this gateway
into slow movement
rising out of stillness.

Hands rise with my arms
towards sky and
open space above,
feet shift and
the moving floorboards
are under my left foot.

Head tilts back
arms overhead
and a deep salutation
up then down
diving to earth
the moving floorboards
guide the motion
into a simple rocking
back and forth.

Firm hands flat on the floor
come into
a forward motion
and a long prostration
towards the lit
wick of light
where I find you
as if time has never passed.


with each silent step,
to the center, to the turning,
to the descending
at the center.

On hands and knees,
feeling weight of back, belly, spine,
spine slowly undulating.

Hands, one then the other
slide back along the floor,
crawling backwards, back to the familiar
warmth of body.

Weight of rolling arm, leg, weight of head
on wood floor, rolling
deeper into dark warmth.

A place where thumb and finger form a ring
encircling other wrist. This too
forgotten, but familiar.

Returning to the ground
of knowing
how near,
how far
we are.

From Mary Francis Hoffman
I honored the form and Mary Starks Whitehouse this year as I had an opportunity to teach a Freshman Seminar class, connectedness to Nature and Sustainability. I took the students outdoors and asked them to allow something in Nature to draw them close. Then I had them partner and share three other Nature elements with each other. Silently witnessing each other share their joy with this exercise in connecting with Nature. Perfect Day!
From Nina Kungurova

To remember the International Authentic Movement Day! It took place two weeks ago and now we are able to collect all photos. 
to honor Mary Starks Whitehouse..
to join to the big circle..
with open hearts from Russia, Ukrain and Kazakhstan!..

Written following a movement session in honor of Mary Startks Whitehouse.  By Elizabeth Reid

My thought as I walk is, "a teacher is a human being."  Over and over I think, 'a teacher is a human being."  And then, "a teacher is a human being who dies."  "A teacher is a human being who dies and leaves behind an energy."

I wonder and notice the energy that is left behind in my body from my teachers.  I feel places I have been touched.  Places of touching flood back into my memory and touch me again.  A dream of the divine child in integration of male and female in my heart.  

I go to another mover who has been such a teacher about touch.  She touches my aching knee and warms my wound.  I feel the touch of other teachers through the years...a touch that allows a growing presence, a touch that sees trauma and contentment, touching that hopes to add compassion to the world.

In the short youtube clip of Mary Starks Whitehouse she says something like, "I see/experience you by being with your bodies, not with your smile or your talk.  Your body is the connection to the sacred."

I am noticing the teachers who teach how to use our energy to let go of ourselves and return to ourselves changed and transformed, more complex, more present, more compassionate, more able to dance as human beings who will die.

My favorite teachers teach for their own autotelic,intrinsic,internal selves, their own self goals,their own optimal creative edge...learning their own way, according to their individual tastes and talents.

All teachers are human beings who die, who touch, who learn, who need to be touched.

When my father died I was so sad to think of all his brilliance lost, until I saw that his brilliance was for him, it was his, for his own enjoyment in life.  Now I am so touched when I notice his brilliance is still here and there in the world.

From Aileen Crow
I’m happy to read your writing and eager to hear more!

 I’ve been fortunate to have great teachers, and not just go for degrees. Some of my teachers have passed on, but stay with me in my being. I had an art teacher at the 92nd St “Y”, Anna Siok, who often said, ‘Isn’t it wonderful, everybody does something different!!"
  She modeled curiosity and generosity. -for others and for herself - she kept her art materials on her kitchen sink, ready to play! 
And a dance therapist who’s not in my life any more, but bequeathed me “ Make room for all your parts!”

The above link takes you to the digitized AMJ’s..
Spring 1997: Interview with Kathlyn Hendricks, “Reflections on Mary Starks Whitehouse” by Christine Caldwell
This is a wonderful article on Mary’s ideas.

International Authentic Movement Day:  Share Your Dreams for Authentic Movement
October 4, 2016

Mary Starks Whitehouse's Day of Birth was October 4, 1911.
We wish to celebrate her life and vision on this Second International Day of Authentic Movement.   
She began the vision/dream which became known as Authentic Movement with her dreams for "movement in depth"  which began in the 1950's over 60 years ago.

Do you have a dream or wish for the future of the Authentic Movement Community? Save October 4th or thereabouts as a time to move your dream with the international authentic movement community as a whole.

Art and Authentic Movement by Aileen Crow


Knowing as we do that Authentic Movement and art often stimulate each other, we’re starting a new project,

A U T H E N T I C   M O V E M E N T   A N D   M Y   A R T.

 Y O U  A R E  I N V I T E D 
to send us photos, drawings, art writings or videos of your art, along with your writing about your art experience.

More than one example is welcome.


Today, Aileen Crow shares with us an example of one of her AM / art experiences.

Over years as an AM mover, I’ve found that certain movement motifs have repeated themselves spontaneously, and with no apparent meaning - at first.

 One of these that seemed significant and mysterious, was one that had two different dynamics in my two hands, at exactly the same time!  My right hand fluttered up above my head in delight, while my left hand thrust itself aggressively forward in an “effyou’" gesture.

 I drew them: 

and I named them Rebel and Delight. (It reminded me of Laban’s category: fighting or indulgent.)

I made a sculpture of her and painted her; her right side is pink and glowing, her left is a sickish green.

Words started to come with the repeated fighting movements.”Don’t tell me what to do!”  “….what to think!”  “…..what to eat!”  “….NOT to eat!”   I ask, "Who gives you uninvited advice?   Left side answers: “Dogmatic New Age Fatheads.” I ask, “Whose advice would you welcome? “  Right side answers: “Shirley Turcotte, Aboriginal Trauma therapist, who elicits a humorous mix of strength and joy."

My drawing talent is spontaneous. When people talk, I ‘see” their relationships or their body attitudes, or their emotional issues. I often “see” them as cartoons. I’m fortunate that this visual sensory channel comes to me so easily.  I think we need access to all our sensory modes, {visual, auditory, proprioceptive, kinesthetic, olfactory, gustatory), especially the ones that seem to be “missing”! 

Each one may hold a treasure!                                

Creating a dialog to me is a way of being my own mover and witness. And my art enriches that process.  I’ll do more of that and I’d like to hear your story!

Send your ideas in a comment to this blog post or in an email to

Marilyn Horowitz responds to Aileen Crow's Authentic Movement and Art Project

Transcribed audio between Marilyn Horowitz and Aileen Crow

Marilyn: Painted on my birthday ...

Marilyn: It is called "The Dancing Electric Jello" or "Happy Birthday To Me." I woke up at 6:00AM and just started to paint. I just went for it. It just took on this shape. I just suddenly saw that it was a dancing form. After I worked on it for a while, I realized that the leg, an arm and a hand protruding were absolutely structurally the expression of the energy of the yellow thing in the middle which, after I painted it, I realized this is a recurring theme in my spiritual work.

My belief is that the pineal gland, which is in the middle of your head, is where the soul resides. The unconscious is the body. In my imagination the pineal gland looks like another symbol that I created in working with Aileen, which was of a yellow zygote. We were doing pre-birth work. Aileen asked me, "Was there a time when you actually felt happy?" I said, "Yes, probably at that moment before I actually became an anything, when I was still a zygote."

All the meditation work I began to do had to do with keeping my eyes open or turning the muscles inward and connecting to the pineal gland, because when I do that, my soul can come right through my eyes. Just the simple act of doing this opens a huge channel.

In terms of the proportions of life, typically the zygote is tiny, and the personality is soft. The ego and the life are larger but what happened in this painting was suddenly my personality self was clearly an extension. I consider this yellow symbol, this triangular symbol, the expression of my larger self or my soul, it seems that the painting is about how my personality self is happily by my larger self. That's the only way that there is a possibility for happiness.

In my movement with Aileen for many years, she and I have both been very interested in post-traumatic stress and the idea that stress is held literally in the body. We've both been working on this concept in Authentic Movement.

I'll just double check though. Holly Sweeney introduced us because I came into my Alexander session carrying a book called "Dreaming While Awake" by Arnold Mindell. She's like, "You have to meet Aileen," because I was involved unwittingly in the idea of trauma because my idea was that if you learned to dream while you were awake, then you could clean up your unconscious. I thought cleaning up your unconscious was the work that had to be done in order to be in post traumatic living and learning.

The unresolved trauma in your body causes you to unconsciously do damage to yourself. If the only way to overcome the very deep problems were to really go in there, clean out, release or express whatever that was ...

Aileen: That word is important.

Marilyn: The point is I didn't know what the traditional word was. Now I know that the word is express but at the time because I'd had a therapy background, I assumed that it was working through, dream work or some sort of process but by the time that I had met Aileen, I had become quite convinced all of these were blunt instruments. It's even worse that they might mire the body in the trauma by constantly reinforcing it verbally.

I was very stuck. At that point if you'd said to me, "Your soul is in the center of your brain, and that's what it feels like," and that you could access it any second, that it wasn't in a mysterious place and that if you'd said to me, "The unconscious is in the body, where else is it?" I would have been more unsure, but then I began to work with Aileen and took a couple of her workshops, and started to work with her privately.

It became eminently clear to both of us that we were on parallel tracks in terms of the discovery process, of how best to live one's life. My intention was that I did not want to be wise and old. I wanted to be wise and as young as possible so that I could enjoy my wisdom.

Aileen: Lovely.

Marilyn: What this painting represents is the triumph of the zygote.

Aileen: Wonderful.

Marilyn: The picture is arms and a leg. Theoretically, the human body has been replaced by the zygote. Clearly, from the painting there are these three holes, which are called the common wisdom. Clearly, the personality self and the zygote, the soul self, are merged. There's no conflict because they're dancing together.

Aileen: That's wonderful.

Marilyn: Even though I wasn't aware of it when I was doing it, it clearly demonstrates that I have achieved this goal that I was seeking. It was a nice birthday present for myself because I did the painting, went back to sleep. When I woke up, that's when I unpacked it. I began to understand what it represented in terms of an emotional movement.

Aileen: Now, you know my longing is for you to dance that.

Marilyn: I can certainly do that. 

Note from Elizabeth.. Blogger only allows one minute to see the whole movement session watch these videos in order.  To see the conclusion watch the last video.




4 Conclusion

This full video may be available using mail drop.  4.30 minute video of Marilyn's movement in response to her painting.

Click to Download
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All right. With respect to the movement that I just did about the painting, we ended with the twist.

Now Aileen's theory when I first started was that the most basic movement was a release, was to find the natural spiral or twist; the undulation of the body and, very much like the old traditions, the idea that the trauma is held in the body.

What the subtlety is that you could only release the trauma when you were doing a certain type of movement, which was some kind of a spiral or a twist. This subtlety I had never seen discussed anywhere else as a thing. I've studied with Bonnie Cohen and with lots of people who do this kind of movement, but no one before Aileen has ever identified the twist as the mechanism of release for trauma.

Aileen: Peggy Hackney.

Marilyn: Peggy has. I'm not that familiar with her work. I've read a bit of it. I didn't see it in there but, obviously, it's in there. Aileen uses it as well because that tells me when the body has completed one movement of whatever it was doing and now is ready for something new. Then I wait.

The idea is that whenever I go into the twist with my elbows crossed and my palms crossed, it means there's a doorway. I've completed whatever that sphere of movement was in the authentic movements. It now has a recognizable, if not a narrative, shape. It's not narrative. It's not a story, per se, but it is a rhythmic story in the sense that when the twist happens and the release occurs ...

Aileen: The shape is meaningful.
When you work with authentic movement in this particular way it becomes, if not narrative, rhythmic and rhythmic in an expansive, conclusion sense of the word. Today when I stopped I then worked on some of my own personal discomfort that was coming up about personal situations but that in itself was a release. Then here I am now back discussing twisting, authentic movement and painting.
The recap is that through this process of doing authentic movement, expression such as painting occurs. That would be the best way to describe it.

Marilyn: The painting occurred as a result of movement and that because I have an interest in understanding the true nature of spirituality, in the authentic movement and workshops that I do. This concept of the yellow zygote being the part of me that is endlessly happy that supersedes all of the other modules became the concept that allowed me to resolve my trauma.

I found peace once the body understood that "I" understood that it was the unconscious and that my soul was actually stored in my pineal glands. The brain was not actually the thing that controlled my actions', so I stopped beating up my monkey mind. I started to understand that my mind was the electrical conveyance by which my soul could express itself because the mind was needed in order to move the body and to exist in the world.

Once those relationships shifted into a much more fluid understanding and that the zygote became the central guiding force, then the twisting and the authentic movement became a connection with, again, the pineal gland and the larger self. It all became a very holistic thing. When I did the painting in which the representation of the zygote, the pineal gland, the triangular-shaped yellow form that appears in many of my paintings had the entire personality body. What was left were limbs that were necessary to dance with. I thought that it was a very nice way to enter my birthday. The painting is called "Dancing Electric Jello" or "Happy Birthday To Me."

Twisting by Aileen Crow

Here’s a piece about twisting and spirals:

This is another of those intriguing (to me) movement phenomena that sometimes appear in Authentic Movement.  They often repeat themselves, sometimes for years, before their meanings become clear.

This one started in a NYC AM peer group.  Moving as usual, suddenly my arms twisted in front of my face.  It was odd, but I took it as a positive event.  I drew it, two pictures.  One as it looked in the mirror, the other as it felt, with many more twists than possible.  Soon afterwards, my legs twisted, then my torso. The twisting came with a warning: “Don’t try to make this happen!  It has to be spontaneous!  To take you by surprise!"

The twists seemed to have a life of their own.  I imagined them as messengers from another realm, which I called my “creative unconscious.”   I’m not spooky, but I often ask myself, “Who do you think you are?”  or “Who has my identity?”  "Is it by choice, or am I reenacting a trauma pattern?"  Authentic Movement gives me information from my body’s inner wisdom.

Lately I am delighted when a twist appears because it has come to mean, “Some part of you (I intend to save the word “you” to mean "your whole self”) thinks that what you’re doing is weird, but you’re on the right track, Aileen."

Everything that flows spirals.

P.S. on Spiraling -
The subject of spiral movement seems to be endlessly interesting to me, and I haven’t even touched on Authentic Movement’s relationship to Laban Movement Analysis, or on cross cultural studies.

Folk Song Style and Culture was an exhaustive study by Alan Lomax, Irmgard Bartenieff and Forestine Paulay of movement elements and specific cultures. For example, they found that cultures that were inclined to favor fertility over control of sensuality used their torsos as one unit - with little undulation. The Lomax book is available on Amazon, and much of this information can be found on Wikipedia.

An interview with Peggy by Aileen can be found on A Moving Journal.   Volume 12.1 Spring 2005: Authentic Movement and Laban Movement Analysis, an interview with Peggy Hackney

MAKING CONNECTIONS, Total Body Integration Through Bartenieff Fundamentals, by Peggy Hackney, is an elegant and pleasurable book by a fine teacher, writer and long time Authentic Mover.  You can read  this book online: