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
0 bytes

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: