What is Authentic Movement?
Authentic Movement is a process of allowing inner-directed movement. It is practiced by people both with and without dance experience and at all levels of physical ability, in groups or individually. Some use it for therapeutic purposes and some as a resource for choreographic and other creative processes, others as a form of mystical practice.
The basic form is simple – a mover with eyes closed, turns attention to their experience without the input from the visual world and waits to notice and then ‘to be moved’ by internal impulses in that exist in the present moment. Then you explore these impulses—image, memory, thought, feeling or sensation—with curiosity and follow the subtle movements.
There is always a witness who sees you move. He or she waits with clear attention to you as mover and with non-judgemental awareness of the present moment. The witness also attends to their own experiences moment by moment as they are your witness. As well as noticing and attending to you moving, they also notice their own repetitions, images, habits, patterns, gestures and expressions that arise in the process of being present with the mover. This process can provide a rich resource of stories from and about the body.
The way I work is deeply informed by the work of Janet Adler. She distinguishes her way of working with Authentic Movement by calling it the Discipline of Authentic Movement. In the Discipline we work to develop an embodied consciousness that allows time and space for the
emergence of direct experience as well as working toward becoming a conscious embodied collective. This is done through the careful languaging of material that emerges from moving but also an embodied process of speaking from our embodied present felt sense. The
Discipline is an advanced practice and individuals interested in this way of working should begin by practicing the basic mover/witness processes of Authentic Movement and learning how to ‘track’ experience moment by moment.
I use a range of techniques to enhance and deepen the moving experience, so, for example, I might begin the session with relaxation techniques, inner visualisations tasks, Alexander based techniques or focusing tasks to help the group to settle into their bodies and to provide a focus for the work. We will explore many ways to articulate what emerges from the body – speaking, moving, drawing, writing, silence – in order to deepen and carry forward your moving experiences into our daily lives.
In psychotherapy we might use Authentic Movement as a process of exploring and healing trauma. AM is a fabulous tool that helps the integration of trauma. The process of ‘tracking’ our moment by moment experience allows us to be both present to our painful experience in
the here and now and allow the feeling tone that is part of our suffering. This both and approach aids the development and integration of traumatic experiences.
If you are interested in Janet Adler’s programme to become a Teacher of the Discipline of Authentic Movement: The Discipline of Authentic Movement, a recent issue of the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices (Bacon, editor) includes contributions that explore, articulate and theorise various approaches to and application of Authentic Movement (AM) with the aim of differentiating the many variations of this practice.
Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices Special Issue 7.2; Authentic Movement: A field of
Issue Editor: Jane Bacon
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