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About International Gathering, 2006


Report on the International Authentic Movement Gathering

June 2006, Hampshire College, Amherst MA, USA.

The basic structure of the weekend was created by Alton Wasson and Daphne Lowell with the invitation to adapt it as needed. On Friday there was a welcome session in the afternoon followed by dinner and an evening movement session. The group was divided into four randomly assigned subgroups that would meet throughout the weekend in various combinations, locations, and with various sound parameters.

On Saturday morning there was a movement session followed by a community round table discussion. The topics for discussion were created by group consensus and people chose the topic that most interested them. Each round table had a reporter. A studio for movement was also available during this time if someone was interested in moving rather than talking. Another movement session took place after lunch followed by another roundtable discussion. A dinner banquet honored the contributions of Patrizia Pallaro, Annie Geissinger, Paula Sager, and Joan Webb with toasts, roasts and comments from each of the honorees. The evening was filled with reflection, appreciation, laughter, celebratory dancing, and fabulous drumming courtesy of Annie Geissinger, Tom Webb, and other drumming volunteers.

Sunday morning was a repeat of Saturday morning, and in the afternoon there was a movement session where all participants moved together, followed by a closing. Approximately 60 people attended the gathering from as far away as Italy and from all the regions of the United States. It was wonderful to finally put faces to the names we have been reading in the journal over these many years.

When people first came together to move on Friday night from all of our various perspectives and traditions, there was quite a lot of negotiating about the structure and the agreements around safety. Over the course of the weekend, as people came to recognize the things we held in common that united us in the work, these initial concerns seemed to relax. As people shared their views and rituals with one another, we seemed to be able to appreciate our differences and the rich ground that this practice provides for an individual's creativity and questions.

The following reports were compiled by a volunteer reporter from each roundtable discussion and represent his or her effort to convey as clearly as possible what was discussed in each group. Since some of the reports are long, I have attempted to summarize the main ideas up front. The reports themselves each have their own formats; some identify speakers and others do not, some are in outline form, some are summaries, and some are a recording or all that was said. Rather than edit the words into a consistent format, I have chosen to leave them relatively unedited so the "voice" of each discussion remains intact.

Respectfully submitted by
Mary J Ramsay

 

Roundtable discussions:

Summaries:

Authentic Movement as Spiritual Inquiry
Summary: For many, authentic movement is a contemplative practice that includes the body. The practice of authentic movement, with its potential to integrate various parts of ourselves and bring together our polarities, addresses our desire for wholeness. Key elements in authentic movement as spiritual practice are awareness, acceptance, the relationship between self and other, presence, not knowing. Experiencing the sacred through the body offers a way to bring the sacred into every day life. (MJR)

Authentic Movement Training: What is it?
Summary: Clarity about the nature and intention of the training is important: is the training for new or experienced movers? Is the intention to prepare people to take part in peer groups, start peer groups, or facilitate groups? Is authentic movement to be used as therapy, personal growth, spiritual practice, creative inspiration or some combination ? Important elements to any training are developing the inner witness, modeling how to create safety and structure, practicing nonjudgmental and compassionate languaging where the witness owns projections, practicing when to contain and be quiet. There are many teachers and ways of practicing but the desire not to codify the training was strongly expressed. (MJR & TW)
 

Authentic Movement & Creative Expression
Summary: Authentic movement can be a resource for making art. How art is shared can be influenced by the practice of authentic movement. Authentic movement can be done as a performance, can be a way of developing choreography or improvisation, can be a structure that allows performers to connect with each other, can offer a witnessing model for an audience. How is being a "mover" different from being a "performer"? How is moving with a solely internal focus different from moving with a dual focus on the internal and external? If authentic movement is done to stimulate creativity in another form, how do the 2 work together? (MJR)
 

Keeping Connections in the Authentic Movement Community
Summary: The desire to stay connected now that A Moving Journal is ending was strongly expressed. How a web site could be designed to provide this connection was discussed in detail. The wish to have the format reflect the authentic movement practice itself was articulated. Since the gathering, a blog was created for all who may be interested: http://authenticmovementcommunity.blogspot.com/. (MJR)
 

Authentic Movement and Healing - Authentic Movement is Healing
Summary: Because of its integration of mind, body, and spirit, authentic movement is healing. The possibility of being touched/moved both physically and emotionally is in itself healing. There are healing aspects to authentic movement regardless of the context in which it is practiced. (MJR)

Ways to Practice

Summary: Because of its integration of mind, body, and spirit, authentic movement is healing. The possibility of being touched/moved both physically and emotionally is in itself healing. There are healing aspects to authentic movement regardless of the context in which it is practiced. (MJR)
 

Community Long Circle/Political/Environmental Community Roundtable
Summary: People expressed a desire to bring authentic movement into the larger world. Sox Sperry and Lisa Tse Tse's Community Long Circle provides a model for a way to do this. Sox explained how he and Lisa developed this practice, how it is set up, and its intention. (MJR)
 

Full Reports:

Authentic Movement as Spiritual Inquiry

Report by Germaine Fraser
Annie Geissinger, Paula Sager, Margaret Trainor, Liz Windrover, Lucy Mahler, BethAnn Albro-Fisher, Germaine Fraser, Ann (Hooke or McNeal), Lisa TseTse, Mary Ita O'Connell, Michael Gardos Reid, Kathy Kollar, Andrea Olsen, Donna Blank, Pamala Lewis

Summary: For many, authentic movement is a contemplative practice that includes the body. The practice of authentic movement, with its potential to integrate various parts of ourselves and bring together our polarities, addresses our desire for wholeness. Key elements in authentic movement as spiritual practice are awareness, acceptance, the relationship between self and other, presence, not knowing. Experiencing the sacred through the body offers a way to bring the sacred into every day life. (MJR)

What has drawn us to this topic? In what ways is AM supportive of our inner work?

I am doing a Rudolf Steiner based masters program focusing on integrating contemplative practice, academic research, and art. How can spiritual inquiry support cognitive knowing and study? How can AM practice help us in direct, experiential knowing?
I am the bringer-forward of the provocative indulgence, inviting something to manifest that would not otherwise. What does it mean to have a practice inviting so much to manifest as opposed to it being held in quietude?
It is a wrestling match for me and my mind-- inner dialog -- that brings me to exclude myself. How inflammatory that can be. This wrestling match does not promote flow or dynamic joy. AM helps the inflammation flow. It's not habitual. It enters other realms and cycles of creative art, dancing, and healing. I am coming out of a period of fear around illness and the inflammatory world. I'm interested in spirituality that will help me navigate growth. Spirituality is such an open field. It can't be defined and I like that.
I've been putting all types of work together my entire life. With dance, I had to go inside. That led me to other forms of energy work. I'm a dance therapist, [my] core comes out in that media. I am always going back there. It is the same with AM or meditating. It flows all into one if I can get my mind to shut up, look at the sky, and drop into my core.
My daily practice for the past few years has been to move alone and write. In this exploration, some questions have come. What does the face of the Beloved look like to me? What does sacred movement look like in me and others? Where does stillness and movement come from?
You remind me that stillness and quiet are the center where I allow myself to go.
I have always thought of AM as a sacred practice. The sacred and profound are different sides of the same coin. Something comes of it inside whatever you do.
The body knows so much more than I know. Learning to open to practices and to that knowing, and having access to other dimensions seems essential at this time. It brings us into wholeness with the earth, links us to holiness and natural systems. When knowing stays personality-focused it is not a contemplative practice, but this can't be avoided. All things need to come up.
I come with a question, coming from a 3-year training with Daphne and Alton. My meditation background and living abroad by myself for 10 years have been like surgery without anesthesia. Contemplative Dance integrates all the work I've done in spaciousness and meditation. It helps me see all the selves and put them together. How do I integrate Contemplative Dance, voice, spirit, and breath into my meditation work? Some say it is about knowing. Some say is about not knowing. I'm sitting with not knowing. I am not articulating the awareness, the space inside. When I sit in not knowing, that is the freedom I am looking for. It's about being with what is. That would be a nice meditation to add to Contemplative Dance. It fits in this work.
This topic has been my life topic: body, movement, and spirit. In AM there is complete acceptance. It's a pathway through the sensory body through expanded experience. How much do we have to go through the psychological to reach the spirit? When is it bypassing? When are we integrating the shadow in holy space? Janet's paper makes a clear distinction between movement that is associative or energetic. She identifies 5 levels of that realm. She works more in the mystical realm. I have questions about mystical and psychological integration and split. I have questions about witnessing. One year ago I discovered the tandava, being in the non-dual state. In tantra, there is a dance also called AM, but with no witness. I've been practicing it and it has thrown AM practice into a different light. There are related practices from many cultures.
It's important to me that AM practitioners are seen as a culture - to open to who is viewing us, to be more visible in the larger culture.
Moving forward in our humanity.
Being in conscious relationship to self and divine but also to another. To be seen fully as our individual self. The cutting edge of this work is humans moving towards their higher selves. I think there is something different here. The consciousness is what is different from ancient cultures.
There has been an evolution from tribal nature, when our consciousness was more collective, to individuality. Now there is alienation, personal struggles. Coming through that allows for something new to follow.
There are merging states, initiative experiences. How do I know myself as well as another?
The ritual of AM is very loose and available. I am very interested in death, losing my dad, being sick. In AM, the spiritual realm gets held. I can move through things I can't know or explain. I want to find that resting self through AM. It is like that sacred space, forest, container. I touched a mover and felt healed. There is potential in this form. It's not always the same. I'm interested in these tribal passages we all share.
The peer group evaporated when my birthing wife didn't choose to come. We are trusting to be unchurched. There are positives in lack of restriction; but in the absence of restrictions there are missed events.
I'm active in a Zen and church-type group. We each bring our own spiritual journey with us. The point where we meet is the mystical aspect of beingness, being moved - it's so dynamic and rich. We come from different places but meet in this beingness. I'm awakened by some movement that touches that mystery. The beauty of this practice is that we meet in mystery w/out the mindset of a particular church.
What is the language of not knowing? Birds I can't understand articulate the not knowing. Mystical languages can be taught. How do we speak it as it is formed?
Lucid dreaming?
I surrender and am in soup. It evaporates once I speak. How does the language support the not knowing?
I so appreciate when anyone tries to articulate an experience. I know there is nothing to say that says it. On the other hand we talk about everything else. If I can enter into it, speak it, it feels like a gift to hear that for myself and others.
Using words is a precious gift. It can't be taught; it's a direct experience.
The mind is sensory and [it] languages. Sit in knowing. Awareness is that silence. There is nothing.
I have questions about presence, what is it for? At this time it's not enough to just do AM for myself anymore. I've had a long standing sitting practice and as far as I am concerned AM and meditation are the same. Being in the body makes both possible. I am typing away and that physicality, being in my body, makes it possible to maintain presence. I am doing AM. We are a hidden culture and it feels unreal in some ways to be here and there. I heard lately do less, trust more. Where is the line drawn? I am moving before we start, I've dropped in, already the lines blur. The quantum physics ideas of moving and simultaneously being in stillness are engaged. I am not interested in being in or being out. I want to live a life where my presence is dependent on the moment not the event of coming together in a community or not.
The form, witness and circle, evolves into presence carried into life. Returning and returning is source where the witness gets molded into life. The practice lets me go further into it, not to be alone. My intention is to live it as much as possible. It's alive.
The present moment is about dropping in; it happens all through the day. It does not matter what I am doing as long as I am dropping in, then I am connected. I feel my ancestors back here. They are with me all the time now. I connect to tribe and universe. It doesn't matter how you connect, just that you drop in.
My body is an open vessel. Every pore - trees, open water, bigger universe, vessel - is open in and out. AM is ancient and has always been there for me.
There are many ways to come in and out. Personality, drama, characters through me and other. I want to own that there is a degree of being cut out when the energy thing is brought up. I'm not good enough, sacred enough. The profane and sacred are together. Gnarly creatures should celebrate themselves with numinous energy.
Someone is always holding that place in AM which connects our humanity. When no one holds that place it isn't as full. It is the magic of this form; there is never a group when that isn't happening
Spiritual permission drops out sometimes. I have a vision of circles where everything is happening all the time. Part of me wants to play with that.
Let's try it. It's scary. Lead me, find me a church.
I find this practice no different, I can be in the midst of the universe breathing me, me breathing it. All spirit. Whacked, caressed. Instantly in relationship. How does that practice of coming into relationship change my behavior in the world - responsibility, sense of community. There is another element of the practice I can't articulate but something is there.
We mover people, we have an idea about habit attachment maybe. Spiritual is other. It is not. Throwing up, peeing, shooting someone, raping someone, eating. Everything manifested. This work is an opportunity to know that in our bodies. Meditation is embodied breath. It should be in our education.
It feels edgy to respond other than verbally. I don't know if I know how to have a conversation with my body while doing. I want relationship. That is the spirit.
Awareness has moments of not knowing and knowing. Choosing to enter or not. I must know when to speak and not to, that shares the mystery. Maybe the speaking is silence.
We don't know.
Mystical practice. We're trying to understand what this does for us. This is a spiritual practice. I came to AM for other reasons. I have a yoga practice, I sit. I've heard about presence. Do we get presents (presence)! We don't have teachers saying don't do that, do this. It's more like get out there and try something. What is different is that we have a circle, we see each other and have relationship. And there are all these women leaders in the form. That is different. Other traditions have 'goals' or a place to get to.
I want to be a teacher who doesn't know and be ok with that.

 

Authentic Movement Training: What is it?

Report by Tom Webb
Morning Discussion: Gennie Brukner, Judy FitzGerald, Katarina Hallonblad, David Hurwith, Cassie Bull, Patrizia Pallaro, Marcia Plevin, Rebecca VerNooy, Alton Wasson, Tom Webb
Afternoon Discussion: Donna Blank, Stephanie Cohen, Heidi Ehrenreich, Judy FitzGerald, Cassie Bull, Pamala Lewis, Patrizia Pallaro, Marcia Plevin, Shakti Andrea Smith, Alton Wasson, Tom Webb, Bill McCully

Summary: Clarity about the nature and intention of the training is important: is the training for new or experienced movers? Is the intention to prepare people to take part in peer groups, start peer groups, or facilitate groups? Is authentic movement to be used as therapy, personal growth, spiritual practice, creative inspiration or some combination ? Important elements to any training are developing the inner witness, modeling how to create safety and structure, practicing nonjudgmental and compassionate languaging where the witness owns projections, practicing when to contain and be quiet. There are many teachers and ways of practicing but the desire not to codify the training was strongly expressed. (MJR & TW)

Morning Session:

1. What training programs exist now:

a. Naropa with Zoe Avstreih. Works within the Somatic Psychology program. AM training at a master's degree level. http://www.naropa.edu/somatic/faculty.html
b. Contemplative Dance: Daphne Lowell and Alton Wasson: Year I and Year II, 120 hours each. 6 weekend meetings each. Year I also includes two intensive weeks for a total of 260 hours. http://www.contemplativedance.org/
c. Marcia Plevin Art Therapy Italiana: AM is taught as a comprehensive practice in the training of dance movement therapists.
Creative Movement-method Garcia-Plevin is taught as a guide for facilitators in teaching creative process groups.
http://www.movimentocreativo.it/it/CORPO3.HTM
d. AM training in Rome done by Marcia, who learned from J. Adler/J. Chodorow/ T. Stromsted and trains participants to do the practice and to participate in peer groups. Three or four other facilitators in Italy do AM trainings.
e. Previously: Authentic Movement Institute-- Followed Janet Adler's sequence of moving in dyads, triads, breathing circle, long circle, and gesture circle. When come into witnessing, have care about language. Training about recall, projection, and transference included.
f. Many other facilitators teach the practice in one way or another but mostly only at the level of teaching the practice as opposed to teaching how to lead groups.
2. Trainings can deal with different aspects of the practice: personal growth, psychology, therapy, dance and choreography, spirituality, mystical practice, etc.
3. What is the psychological basis of the training?
4. Alton spoke about the Contemplative Dance program with its Year I and Year II programs.
a. Themes each weekend: Moving in Nature, Transference, Chest of Drawers (choices of perspective in witnessing), Dreams, etc.
b. Underlying psychological basis is Jungian. Ask students to be familiar with rudiments of Jungian psychology.
c. No automatic stamp at the end that says a person is now a facilitator.
d. Attempt to attract professionals to come who can incorporate it into what they do.
e. Students need some knowledge of psychodynamics.
5. Marcia: participants need to have a strong enough ego to do the work.
6. Rebecca (who did a graduate degree program at NYU in dance but involving authentic movement) had psychologists on her thesis committee who challenged her a bit about her preparation in psychology.
7. Rebecca commented that being in groups can be the training if you have self knowledge and are experienced in certain ways.
8. Without proper psychological training, dangers can arise
a. If people doing AM go in too far.
b. If people doing AM become psychotic or re-experience traumas.
c. However, David noted that in his offerings it is psychotherapists who have been most vulnerable and also who have lashed out at others.
9. Marcia: We should name our visions of AM
10. Training is
a. To push/encourage people to evolve.
b. To make sure that they know some things to make it safe.
11. Patrizia: "I am a psychotherapist and know myself enough and can navigate the scary moments with aplomb."
12. Patrizia: How does crisis work in a group if someone becomes psychotic or re-enters a trauma? What do facilitators or peers need to know how to do if psychological traumas become dangerous for a mover when a mover does not get to the transformative stage with it? I witnessed one such incident between two movers in a group that was not set up to deal with such psychological issues.
13. A degree in psychotherapy is no guarantee of being good. One key in all of this work is being able to relate well with people.
14. Gennie:
a. Safety is important.
b. Languaging contributes: must be disciplined and clear.
c. Clear language provides safety. People need training in it.
d. Rebecca: a clear lesson from Janet Adler
15. Cassie: What about when people move with eyes closed and stuff comes up for them. Facilitator (or peer witnesses?) needs to be awake for it. How train in seeing such? Body mapping training can be important here.
16. Alton: Mary Whitehouse recorded a time when a person flipped out doing the work.
17. Alton:
a. The way facilitators set up a movement time or group can preclude or at least diminish the chances of psychological crises arising.
b. Tell participants to be mindful and not to go beyond what they can handle. (Such presumes prior selection of participants who can be so discerning while moving.)
c. Often in CD training, people come in ready to facilitate and leave the training humbled and feeling not so ready.
d. We train people for safety when facilitating. We give explicit instructions and we also model how to do it when we have them move and witness.
e. We try to bring consciousness to where a facilitator's comfort is.
f. We offer witnessing labs to train people how to witness silently or with gestures before coming into using words.
18. Marcia:
a. Need to teach somatic judgment for safety - train perception that a person may need individual therapy.
b. Verbal witnessing in public dyad helps to train witnesses to own projections.
19. David returned conversation to how to bring consciousness to damaging psychological experiences, especially when they happen in a non-psychotherapy group.
20. Alton:
a. Need to develop the inner witness in movers and witnesses.
b. Inner witness helps people be with trauma in another way. It helps them discern when the time is right for them to go there.
c. AM is different from gestalt therapy which tries to provoke a past trauma.
d. I tell movers to go there when ready. I try to empower the mover, which is part of healing.
21. Cassie: People need to bring awareness to that moment of choice. It empowers the mover. They also see that before they couldn't do it and now they can. It is a key learning moment in the practice to be aware of choice.
22. David: "A strong inner witness helps."
a. When in a peer group, you are even more responsible for your own safety around projection and setting up the container. This is in contrast to being in a facilitated group.
b. Self-safety is key in a peer group. A nurturing environment also helps.
23. Marcia: Time and refinements can be crucial in allowing a peer group to function.
a. In Finland, a group with around 60 hours of training wanted to try a peer group. It didn't work. They found that they needed another intensive of about 28 hours before it could function well. I return to this group to guide the practice, as well as give supervision for the peer group.
b. People from different cultures bring different abilities and preferences to the work. For example, generally speaking, Finns love silence in a retreat situation and have attention to fine detail; the Spanish have difficulty with holding silence.
24. Patrizia: Time in doing practice is important. It takes time to build an inner witness but no formula here. Some get there sooner than others. The point is that they get there rather than having a number of hours or training.
25. Alton:
a. It was not our original intention to be training people for peer groups.
b. Our intention is to allow individuals to gain from having more consciousness about certain issues and aspects of the practice.
c. In Germany, they tried to set up training using a Dance Therapy model. It caused an uproar in North America.
26. David:
a. I lead weekends when people have no sense of the psychological. I have worked with dancers around incantation.
b. What if introduce the dark side? I have my edge.
c. There can be different agreements in trainings and different agreements during weekends which are not trainings but explorations.
27. Janet Adler likes to work at her edges. She selects groups of people to help her explore her edges around Jewish mysticism or energy or witnessing.
28. Rebecca: People love AM with a sense of developing consciousness.
29. Patrizia:
a. Historical point of view is helpful.
b. Janet mostly trained dance therapists at first (or is it that she trained as a dance therapist at first?)
c. When Janet moved to California, then she began working with groups of 7-8 participants whom she knew. Her groups formed by invitation from her. Her article in the second book tells of some of her learnings about strengthening the inner witness. She says facilitators need psychological training.
30. Trainings can be for people interested in personal growth, spiritual practice, psychological work, psychotherapy, creative work, sourcing in dance, etc.
31. Rebecca: Mary Whitehouse was a dancer and "active imaginer." A video shows her working: "Metamorphosis." See reference in the back of Patrizia's book.
32. Judy commented on the richness of our conversation and wishing it were videotaped.
33. Cassie introduced the metaphor of AM being a meal. What ingredients are needed? What is a training?
34. Katarina said she is sitting in because she is curious about trainings.
35. Marcia: Time for cooking. How much time to prepare roast beef properly, training as a gestation period.
36. David: What separate dishes are involved. One can cook it too long, too. Need to get the timing right for each side of beef.
37. Cassie reported on year long training with Zoe, then weekly groups but not necessarily feeling ready to facilitate.
38. David:
a. Spatial container and time container are key.
b. Cook each thing and give it its time.
c. Clarity is key. Need to be clear about what to do and then do it.
d. We are holding different things in different groups as facilitators.
e. Part of training is to learn to have clarity in holding chaotic experiences.
f. When developing the inner (silent) witness, need to develop consciousness of it. A mover can't just follow the rules or just put in so many hours of training.
39. What will a facilitator need?
a. Rebecca: some aspects of the practice are mundane, e.g. the circle.
b. Alton: Things like the mundane as well as the subtle (e.g. inner witness consciousness) are what the training is all about. Practice of AM is a practice for life and living. Take it into the world. Take the consciousness into the world. Focus on the inner process is key.
c. TW: How the training is facilitated is a key part of the training. Modeling the practice and coaching the students in it are key.
d. Marcia: What makes a good cook?
i. A love of cooking.
ii. Patience, compassion, subtlety.
iii. Cook needs to know when to bring the dish to the table.
iv. Need to set boundaries as a cook.
40. Alton: Trainings can be for:
a. Beginning movers
b. Those who wish to be in a peer group
c. Those who wish to start peer groups or be facilitators
41. Katarina: Learning to respond as a witness is key.
42. Marcia: I need to fix the training for me.
43. Patrizia:
a. Germans tried to trade mark AM
b. They created an upheaval of protest in North America
c. Cannot circumscribe AM as a formless form
d. Tension developed.
44. Alton: The Germans stirred things up. Good.
45. David: I have been around dancers who have some experience with AM but have little training in it and little understanding of witnessing, but they think that they can teach it. David implied that such people made him consider having standards applied in the field for teaching or facilitating.
46. Marcia: Chaos theory: holding chaos while creating principles for it.
47. TW: We face issues of licensing when insurance might be used to pay for sessions.
48. David: Naming of tendencies in the field for training and for practice. What should the kitchen look like? It might have an oven, a cook, and some chaos on the floors and counters. And maybe even some containers? [TW: the kitchen has floors because, as a mover noted, "I love sensing the many floors below this one."]
49. A messy kitchen is needed with open windows. What is cooked here?
50. Alton:
a. We offer some notes about the preparation but hand them out only at the end and with reservations about their being incomplete and just a draft. We try to be careful here. It is not a check list or prescription.
b. Discussions like this can happen at meetings. The first such for facilitators was 10 years ago in 1996 at Stump Sprouts. The group met the next year but did not continue.

 

Afternoon session

More on how training should happen

1. Marcia:
a. What does it take to cook an inner witness? What ingredients are needed by the mover and by the facilitator?
b. What is the purpose of the training: to move, to witness, to be in a peer group, to facilitate?
c. What constitutes a training?
d. Need to learn to be somatically open to witness in a group and to do less projecting and to be nonjudgmental.
e. Use dyad to long circle sequence of Janet for inner witness development.
f. Develop mover consciousness and witness consciousness, and learn to see both are the same.
g. What and when is enough?
h. Supervision in AM
i. I am doing research about AM and meditation with dharmic principles. How do the two work and work together?
2. Heidi talked about the basics
a. What is the contract? Are you their therapist? Are you trying to help in a creative, healing, or spiritual practice?
b. What ingredients are needed?
i. Need to be witnessed by an experienced witness who has been witnessed for a long time by an experienced witness.
ii. Need to have mover experience, which is not intellectual, e.g. body response and sensations and emotions.
iii. Need to hold silent and to know what it is not to speak. Janet has witnesses practice for 6 months without speaking.
iv. Everyone wants to be seen and is terrified to be seen.
v. Inner witness needs to be developed in the presence of a circle or a witness.
vi. Speaking or not? Who is speaking for or to?
vii. If working as a therapist and/or facilitator, then need to understand transference and counter-transference.
viii. Somatic counter transference as a dancer.
c. In AM as Mary Whitehouse saw it, moments of truth come as unexpected experiences. They just come. Must learn how to harvest those moments.
d. Facilitator must develop these basics. Moving and being present.
3. Marcia summarized the basics as being:
a. To be seen enough by someone who has been seen enough.
i. Be in Janet Adler's sense of "AM heaven."
b. Need to grow the inner witness.
c. Need to establish the perspective of the external witness to inner witness.
i. Within self
ii. As therapist, spiritual guide, or what?
4. Marcia continued:
a. Less is more. Longevity helps. Must always start from the not knowing place.
b. Important to model how to speak.
c. Modeling is done by experienced person
d. Modeling how not to speak, how to speak, how a group functions, etc.
5. Donna spoke of her experience as a Feldenkrais trainer. That field may be half a step ahead of AM.
a. Steps in training
i. Need awareness through movement. May take two years to develop.
ii. Then functional integration: hands on work.
iii. Then may teach it.
b. One key practitioner felt that people best not trained. He felt that not knowing is the best place to start.
6. Tension in trainings which can bring in career motives from the beginning rather than just learning AM to learn it, to do it, to love it. Does the facilitating arise from a love of the form or from the want for a profession. (Perhaps not too large a problem if no one is making much money at it, though. TW)
7. How can training keep the creativity and chaos central to the practice?
a. Training for consciousness and being in the process, not just training to produce a product and to reach some goal. (If magic in the practice arises when intention is let go of, then what role has intention in the training?)
b. Longer the incubation, the better.
8. Alton: CD training focuses on integrating AM with other work, which is the work the participants have as professionals and also as explorers of their personal lives.
a. Work with different ways to practice, e.g. in nature, with dreams, etc.
b. Session on learning not to split the archetype: mover/witness, healer/patient.
c. Originators (Whitehouse, Adler, Chodorow) had/have psychological/dancer backgrounds. Jungian analyst model.
9. Heidi:
a. Facilitator can't go any further with someone than have gone themselves.
b. Am I ready if a trainee is just a millisecond behind me?
c. Supervision helpful to me in getting unstuck.
d. It's a practice: How see self in relationship to other person? Co-creation process.
10. Training should involve being trained for unknown in ourselves as well as in others.
11. Stephanie: Screening of people engaged in practice, when facilitator is not a psychologist, therapist. (Same holds if not a dancer when working with dancers doing creative work.-TW)
12. AM is a practice. How facilitate in such a way that invites more people to participate and to behave differently in the world? Deepening ourselves and making a more authentic response to life.
13. Heidi:
a. Janet Adler brilliant at posing the next question and working on it.
b. First group explored "Who is the witness?" She has written about that.
c. A person can have a question entering the work and then find that the question changes once the inner witness develops.
14. Pamala:
a. Janet always has questions because she starts from not knowing.
b. Trainers endanger the process if they start from a place of knowing in contrast to Janet's place of not knowing.
c. I have had a personal odyssey into this work. I want to be a nondirective teacher about the unknown and keep opening and bring meditation in.
15. Spirituality in AM: opening to the unknown, becoming comfortable with self in the unknown.
16. Countercultural use of the term training.
a. We face a paradox.
i. Training in AM goes against the cultural sense of what training is or should be and what a teacher should bring to the training when non-directional, open to the unknown, not knowing, and letting go of intention.
ii. How can a teacher model these qualities when running a training that might have intention and require knowledge?
b. Tom: But all great teaching holds this paradox. For example, beginning students in science need knowledge and guidelines to come into a field and to see what science is and how it is practiced. What is known, what are the key concepts, and how do you do it? But then once a student moves on to more advanced training or to a more advanced understanding of the field, a scientist has to show them how key concepts like species, time, psyche, table are human constructions and can have different definitions. (Even in science, languaging can be a problem! We project meaning onto words and the meaning of words changes with context, usage, and time.) Once a student opens to the unknowing in science, then the student can open to creativity in science.
17. Heidi: building of trust in AM is key. Any group when it first forms can't immediately elicit trust. Trust builds in the work (or not).
18. Cassie: Who creates safety? Need to look inside. What role for the facilitator here? Safety is key to building trust.
19. Stephanie: Look at us at this conference on Friday night. People's inner witness might be OK, but it was still hard to discuss the set up within a limited time and have time for movement that first night.

 

Authentic Movement & Creative Expression

Report by Karen Kornhauser
Stefanie Cohen, Aileen Crow, Margaret Downing-Dill, Valerie Gilman, Eileen Kelly, Karen Kornhauser, Mary Ramsay, Shakti Andrea Smith

Summary: Authentic movement can be a resource for making art. How art is shared can be influenced by the practice of authentic movement. Authentic movement can be done as a performance, can be a way of developing choreography or improvisation, can be a structure that allows performers to connect with each other, can offer a witnessing model for an audience. How is being a "mover" different from being a "performer"? How is moving with a solely internal focus different from moving with a dual focus on the internal and external? If authentic movement is done to stimulate creativity in another form, how do the 2 work together? (MJR)

What are the issues?

Sharing / Showing
*Relationship between Authentic Movement and the making of something to be shown.
*The issue of sharing what has been made.
*Showing sculpture.

Sharing / Audience
*Biggest desire: What is the viewers' response to a performance, art piece, etc. vs. their critical evaluation of it? Suggestions: Asking for this, inviting this, creating the response together, exploring what happens when you invite everyone to project freely.
*Playing with "what is audience," what are we as performers expecting of them? How do we invite them into the work?
* Regarding the audience: What do we give, want, and hope for?

Performance
*Authentic Movement and performance
*Role of witness in performance making
*How practicing Authentic Movement informs my performance
*Being in relation to other performers and to the audience
*Maintaining contact with other performers in the physical space
*Perhaps performance is about communicating the experience
*Importance of feeling welcomed by the audience as a performer
*Importance of feeling welcomed by the performer(s) as an audience member/witness
*Embodying and talking
*What is my intention? As mover: To prioritize my relationship to myself vs. not scaring the audience -or scaring the audience. Trusting that my body is the medium and the meaning

Practice / Performance
*What is the difference between Authentic Movement and performance? How to be in my material and consciously invite the audience in?
*Cultivating presence in performance. Is the feeling inside different if one is a performer vs. a mover?
*Authentic Movement vs. Improv:
o With Authentic Movement, my focus is on what's true, what part of my body's desire is being tended to right now?
o Is the difference a more conscious focus on the "internal" experience vs. a more conscious focus on the "external" experience with the internal experience still intact?
*How does doing my practice affect my content?

Content / Structure
*Regarding Authentic Movement and performance: Some is set work, some not set. Setting a beginning and an end, setting places to visit in between.
*Knowing that composing is happening. Improvising is happening too.
*Content: About making art and process, practice and content.
Context
*Context to inspire, perform, participate, welcome…..
*Context: A "happening" vs. a performance event. Sacred clown, cosmic vaudeville…..
*What is the context within which we show work, perform? What needs to be in place for people to be ready to perform? Education of the audience. A model for creating a particular context for performance could be I.D.E.A. (International Dance Exchange Alliance), a showing of works-in-progress (music, dance, theater, poetry, or some combination) now taking place in Amsterdam and in Northampton, Massachusetts. The performer has 10 minutes to show their work, the audience then writes and draws after each piece with the intention that the writing be about their own experience rather than an attempt to interpret what they have seen. After all performers have shown their work, the audience then gathers in the performance space and reads their writing or shows their drawings in the order in which the pieces occurred. The distinction between pieces fades and the sharing becomes it's own kind of performance and can plant seeds for future pieces.
*Suggestion on above: The sharing could be after each piece (instead of at the end) to help model intention of group around giving feedback free of "evaluative" input - to help create the culture.

Making / Process
*Hunger to know more about the relationship between practicing Authentic Movement and working with clay, writing, performance, drawing, painting, etc. What is the balance of moving and making, emptiness and fullness that inspires or furthers creative expression, art, many forms?
*Peer events: exploring an afternoon of movement and clay, movement & writing with the possibility of extended amounts of time for working with art materials, writing. Exploring how much time is needed for each as more space is made available for the relationship between the two.
*"My right hand went to art school. Working with my left hand to free me up, letting my left hand go to art school."
*Relationship between practice and making. Using Authentic Movement as a primary way of coming into relationship with other performers performing together.
*How do you compose or refine (for public) and not squash the experience? How do you remain true to the experience and continue to access the material (in performance and with creating art pieces, writing, etc.)?
*Quote from Mary Whitehouse, "What we create first is ourselves and it is out of ourselves that the producing comes."

Money / Selling
*Making money. Issue of selling your pieces of art work. Do you sell your art work? What enables you to do that or not?
*Selling sculptures: When I have too much…. I need to make space.
Inspiration
*Authentic Movement and Contemplative Dance leading me back into art via meaning, feeling, and emotion vs. the art media and structure.

 

Keeping Connections in the Authentic Movement Community

Report by Elizabeth Reid
Christine Draper, Amanda Judd, Martha Lask, Ann McNeal, Daphne Lowell, Marjorie Huebner, Sox Sperry, and Elizabeth Reid

Summary: The desire to stay connected now that A Moving Journal is ending was strongly expressed. How a web site could be designed to provide this connection was discussed in detail. The wish to have the format reflect the authentic movement practice itself was articulated. Since the gathering, a blog was created for all who may be interested: http://amgathering.blogspot.com.

Our Image: We want to extend the Community Long Circle to the web. The center circle consists of all kinds of configurations of movers such as individuals practicing alone, dyads and peer groups, or lead groups moving together. A small opening in the circle allows outer witness to see in and come in. The next circle holds the common witnesses who watch over the safety of the inner circle. A larger opening allows the outside to see in and ask questions. The keepers answer questions and outwardly give information and seek to bring new people into the circle. See article in A Moving Journal Volume 5 #3.

Another image was one of pebbles in a pond that create overlapping circles expanding outward. The movers are witnesses and keepers who maintain the integrity and privacy of the practice, people who practice, but also reach out to the world. Unlike the community long circle which is a public event, this image is of a web site with private places where the public can't see in, as well as public places where there is visibility and outreach.

We left our discussion with a feeling of excitement and satisfaction. One participant summarized it this way: I felt very excited about the clarity of people wanting to keep us all connected, concerned about keeping the integrity of AM present in cyber space, and how we wanted our diversity represented. I felt held by the presence of folks at the meeting...."

Summary:
1. We want to have a way to be connected to all outlying places in the world. We want a way to connect AM practitioners, to announce workshops and events, share thoughts about the practice, perhaps even publish papers on AM and more.
2. We want both private and public cyber realm presence that is as safely contained as possible, knowing that nothing is air tight.
3. We want a web/internet presence to integrally reflect the values and ethos of the practice.
4. We want to use technological innovations.
5. We propose funding of some kind, for example through dues/subscriptions/tithes on individuals, peer groups or others? web site membership? or other fundraising efforts?
6. We want to be aware of and sensitive to political concerns of our community, especially inclusivity and diversity.
7. We suggest this be an always forming web presence which continually invites, where things are not set in stone, and we always pay attention to outreach.
8. We wish also for the hard copy and privacy of a directory of practitioners.
9. We suggest developing a private, internal-to-the-community Blog -- to discuss developing a public web site. Check out the beginning discussion of the Connections group: http://amgathering.blogspot.com/
10. We image this web presence for the "collective" AM community. Many of us like the name "The Collective AM Community." (A few from the larger group do not like the name "collective." An alternate suggestion was "The AM Gathering.")
11. We want a web designer (ideally from within the AM community). We want tenders (witnesses and responders to help this ongoing process) and contributors for funding and content.
12. There was also discussion about: the value of printed media for articles and other writings, of digital video etc; ideas that a web site could have blogs within it for discussions about specific topics, documents (pdfs) that could be printed from a web site.

Large Meeting Response and Concerns:
* that we also continue to use a paper and ink, black and white forms of communication.
* that we use mail for anyone who needs to get information that way.
* that the web draws people away from their bodies and into their minds and finger tips. How can a web presence invite people into their bodies?
* could our web presence be simple and easily accessible to all, even those with older computers?
* The following people offered to be tender/ witnesses to the ongoing process of developing a web presence: Karen Kornhauser, Ann McNeal, Allison Buck, Donna Blank, Elizabeth Reid, Patrizia Pallaro, Amanda Judd, and Christine Draper.
*Michael Gardos Reid and Christine Draper offered to revise the directory. Daphne Lowell volunteered to help Michael and Christine with ideas about how to store and make use of directory info…databases and stuff.
*Gennie Brukner and Martha Lask know web designers who might be sensitive enough for our web design.
*Amanda Judd has volunteered to help with the web design.
*Patrizia Pallaro offers this link about a socially aware site that does web hosting for non profits: http://www.thinkhost.com/infrastructure/

 

Authentic Movement and Healing - Authentic Movement is Healing

Report by Lakshmi Sirois
Rinah Karson, Laura Hays, Barbara Chutroo, Ann Hebert Smith, Ann Hebert Smith, Kathryn Kollar, Lakshmi Sirois
Summary: Because of its integration of mind, body, and spirit, authentic movement is healing. The possibility of being touched/moved both physically and emotionally is in itself healing. There are healing aspects to authentic movement regardless of the context in which it is practiced. (MJR)

We introduced ourselves and stated how we use authentic movement with different modalities and in different contexts:

Rinah Karson - is a Licensed Social Worker and often teaches authentic movement in her teenage yoga classes.

Laura Hays - is a Licensed Somatic Movement Therapist and does bodywork and authentic movement in her practice

Barbara Chutroo - Combines authentic movement with Gendlin's Focusing and practices as a Licensed Social Worker and a Dance Therapist.

Ann Hebert Smith - is an Academy of Dance Therapist Registered and a Mental Health Counselor and has run an ongoing therapeutic authentic movement group for 14 years.

Alison Buck - has written about and is practicing a combination of Homeopathy and Authentic Movement.

Kathryn Kollar - uses authentic movement in an Integrative Movement practice and teaches it in a Community College course called "Dance: Body Mind Spirit.

Lakshmi Sirois - uses authentic movement in her Expressive Arts Psychotherapy practice with individuals, groups, couples, and families as an A.D.T.R. and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and teaches it at a dance camp and as a part of an undergraduate Dance/Movement Therapy course at Endicott College.

We shared our knowledge that authentic movement is "inherently healing" (Laura Hays) and part of that stems from integrating body-mind-spirit (Lakshmi Sirois). Some shared their frustration and exasperation regarding some State's licensure requirements mandating psychotherapists (Social Workers) only work with client's minds and not involve their bodies or spirits.
We spoke of the healing of touch, both the physical and the emotional (being touched/moved emotionally). We then discussed other healing aspects of authentic movement such as when witness and mover meet - share an understanding or a moment of significance - during moving and witnessing and/or the processing afterwards. A witness (or homeopath) meets and resonates with the vital force of a mover/client (Alison Buck), eyes meet knowingly, movers and witnesses are seen, and movements and/or words are brought to consciousness. There was additional discussion regarding repetitive patterns in authentic movement, and whether bringing repetitive patterns to consciousness was enough, or whether structure or intervention offered greater healing.
We agreed that authentic movement offers the opportunity for healing in a peer group or with a dance/movement therapist, yoga teacher, college professor, homeopath, or a social worker. Even done for choreographic purposes it can be healing. In other words authentic movement is healing.

 

Ways to Practice

Report by Lisa Tse Tse
Daphne Lowell, Emma Linderman, Mary Ramsay, Lisa Tse Tse, Allison Buck, Kathryn Kollar, and others
Summary: With different root traditions and teachers, what are the essential elements that allow a practice to be identified as authentic movement? Structures used were differentiated from the rituals that have been developed by different teachers and groups. (MJR)

Questions we started with:

  • What are the structures peer groups use?
  • What are the rituals people use to support these structures?

There are dyads, triads, breathing circles, long circles, community long circles and more…

There are different traditions and root teachers - Janet, Daphne, Alton, Edith, Zoe, Joan Chodorow, Lucy DuBois, Anne Smith, Susan Schell, Carolyn Sadeh, Andrea Olson, and more……….

We're using the Authentic Movement as a discipline itself and to inform foundationally:
Dance Movement Therapy
Contemplative practice
Meditation practice
Healing
Homeopathy Performance material
Body research
Yoga
Spiritual resource
Life coaching
Social work
Teaching
Nonviolent practice
Parenting

Specific rituals:
Honoring the empty space before and after movement
Use of bell to open and close circle
Use of candles and/or a song to open or close
Witnesses returning to where they began upon entering and leaving
Witnesses choosing to return to any place in the circle after entering/leaving knowing that the witness is universal

All in agreement that:

  • One of the most important pieces to provide is a safe place for the movement to happen within; to utilize a beginning or an ending that has a certain essence of safety. The organization itself and the time it takes to create it is part of the ritual.
  • Purpose and intention are essential and then the willingness to "let stuff happen."

Questions we ended with:
What is essential/critical to the form structurally and what is something we simply love that we use idiosyncratically?

 

Community Long Circle/Political/Environmental Community Round table

Report by Marjorie Huebner
Sox Sperry, BethAnn Albro-Fisher, Val Gilman, Annie Geissinger, David Hurwith , Germaine Fraser, Karen Kornhauser, Marjorie Huebner, Liz Windrover

Summary: People expressed a desire to bring authentic movement into the larger world. Sox Sperry and Lisa Tse Tse's Community Long Circle provides a model for a way to do this. Sox explained how he and Lisa developed this practice, how it is set up, and its intention. (MJR)

We went around the circle and each spoke to why we were at this roundtable.
David: Interested in the dilution of Authentic Movement into other formats. How to keep the integrity of it, keep it whole. Not to keep it only self referential, to connect it to actions that are in the world, political actions. Spoke about Israeli grandmothers standing witness and engaging soldiers at Palestinian check points.

Liz: Is used to moving in a defined circle - can it be less defined? How to know about a more porous circle and have a bigger impact on the world - allowing others to enter who don't know about Authentic Movement?

Val: Curiosity about collaborative work, wants to engage in difficult questions with others - war, environment, etc. To engage/integrate creative, personal healing process into healing in a bigger way.

Annie: The perspective we bring to Authentic Movement is necessary. It is missing from actions in the world. Can I open up parts of myself to fill the gap between the different parts of my life - the extremes between my life and Authentic Movement - what are the steps to doing that? Curious about the steps that Lisa and Sox have created.

Germaine: Works in a hospital/institution - cogs move more slowly there. How can Authentic Movement help make an impression, meet conditions that move more slowly, in a different way? She brings Non-Violent Communication and AM witnessing presence to patients, administration, and other workers who "mess up," not just advocating for patients. Wants to bring AM into realms she has influence on. "Work magnifies what I know in Authentic Movement - no one listens." She tends to become a MEGA witness, embodies the container....can be exhausting. Practices with babies in the hospital - following their energy rather than countering it - other nurses ask her what she is doing because they don't cry!

Karen: Uses AM and Non-Violent Communication for self tracking - helps her bring the quality of Authentic Movement into the corporate environment. How can I bring the essence of AM into my life - what are the ways to do that? The embodiment of the political scene, to make it real, seen - roles played out…..so subjects are talked about and embodied in small groups and creative expression can exist in a larger context - writing, sculpture.....

BethAnn: How practices of awareness, concentration, and listening can translate into action and behavior outside of the practice? Being in religious and self-help communities and we are assholes anyway - she is frustrated with abominable actions. Authentic Movement is about relationship, embodiment, and has a contact aspect. It asks us to behave in a certain way - shared safety - and so with this agreement of safety there is a lot of freedom to bring up our stuff and push edges. Wants to practice expansive communities. It feels radical to say what isn't ok and what behaviors we require in community.

Marjorie: I was excited to read the article Sox and Lisa wrote as I am hungry to bring what AM offers into the world, to make it more visible. In my hands-on work as a Rosen Practitioner I am often doing one-on-one work offering witness to personal process. I want a bigger and bigger circle supporting this way of being, this way into the world - offering compassionate witness with those agreements for safety so we find a way to experience our own expression, inner knowing, and being.

We had all read about Lisa and Sox and the Community Long Circle and were inspired by it. They took Authentic Movement into the world, into the public, community sphere, literally outside to move a question of concern to the community. The people who gathered moved. Moving with people you hadn't moved with before......

How it all began~
Lisa and Sox are involved in collective processes in their personal and professional lives. People are suffering, there is transformation within our personal and community lives - how can we keep our eyes open to the world?
Janet Adler's idea of a CARAVAN of AM moving from community to community was an inspiration. How could you go into a community? How do you find yourself in the other? How do you find the other in yourself?
How can we all find ways to bring the practice into our particular world? Using Authentic Movement as inspiration - the structure to support a collective process with non-violence at the center.
Need long term practitioners or folks in a parallel process to hold the container well - need experience....
Sox described the process of developing the Community Long Circle, how it works when they are asked to come and do a circle in a community, and offered some stories about what happened when they did the circles outside.

Long Circle Design - the way it looks - outdoor, public sphere:
They have done the Community Long Circle 5 times in different parts of the country. Use the form of 2½ day workshops. They prepare by moving inside so they then can move with a group of people. They move with a particular question in mind - a question broad enough with resonance for many people. It is important to practice non-violence, to do no harm. They have been invited by a particular group - men and women, experienced folks (movers, mediators, therapists). There are also those who just show up. They meet and find out who is in the room, move together - get in their bodies, state intentions.

Choosing an outdoor location is important. Define the circle with ribbons and stakes in the ground about 2 feet high. The circle has a portal - an opening on one side. The inner circle includes a witness and the movers (8 people), the next layer out has common witnesses (4 at least) facing out to community. At the next layer are the keepers (3 at least) who move into the community, physically interacting with people who are curious about what is going on, answering questions, and peace keeping. They also hand out flyers about who they are, what they are doing, the question they are moving. They direct people to the community board on an easel with the question and other comments from workshop members. People from the community can add comments, etc. to this board. Friends come to witness as community members (often 10-25) and then other community members happen by.....flyers have been put up. They don't ask permission from authorities and try to stay respectful of those who may regularly inhabit this space.
Ritual of beginning….placing of stones....ringing of bells... Then moving 45 minutes... Invitation for other people to come in....model respectful speaking....ask speaking to happen in this particular order: 1) inner circle - movers, witness; 2) common witnesses; 3) keepers; 4) community at large.

Misc. comments, questions.....
It is always an edgy and risky effort - and so rewarding.
What are you hoping for? A portal into the world in a practice of non-violence.
Racial lines crossed? Not in circle itself, but the circle was held in diverse communities.
How to invite people into an open process? Create clear boundaries for safety - boundaries do get pushed or broken.

Do people come from other places besides the community you're working in? Yes, sometimes people hear about it and come from a distance. It is best to have a core group of experienced movers from the community.

Can we stay in communication about how we are doing this, so we aren't isolated with this desire to take AM out into the world?

One way to explore the Community Long Circle form would be to invite Sox and Lisa to your community to offer a three day workshop culminating in a community long circle. They request funding for their room, board, and transportation. Income beyond these expenses from workshop fees is shared between community organizations in the host community and the facilitators' community.

 

 

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