Gurdjieff Movements: Why are they beneficial to performing artists?

by Amiyo Devienne

Many actors, dancers, musicians, public orators find themselves limited by self-consciousness, so concerned are they by the public’s opinion and response, whether they provoke or soothe their audience. They are not conscious about themselves, but rather, others are conscious about them. This state of self-consciousness can be felt like a disease. It is a humiliating state where they feel closer to the beggar than the emperor. Their own evaluation is slave of an outside evaluation. And the outer reflections replace the reality of the moment.

If the answer does not fit their expectations, it triggers the usual chains of miseries, anguish and tensions. If the answer does fit the expectations, then the tensions will still be. How to preserve this in the future? Self-consciousness is a constant pressure between you and the world.

Yet, self consciousness is part of the excitement, and can become an addiction- But what price to pay for some hit of adrenaline!

The practice of these movements help the transformation from self consciousness to consciousness of the self Becoming more aware, more totally involved, being at the centre while still conscious of the periphery, the stage, the lights, the public, but without being shattered by it

This is the point of self-remembering you function out of awareness, so total in your act that you don’t depend on anyone’s attention. The energy that was confined in self –consciousness will be released and transformed into alertness, easiness, and flow.

Here are a few important themes:

More presence in the body:

  • Body awareness in its smallest details;
  • Coordination between the upper and lower part of the body, the left and the right side;
  • Opening of body vocabulary in movements;
  • Awareness of time and space for oneself and in relation with others members of the group;

Awareness of the inner sensations in the body in stillness and in movement, of the deepest source of every movement, of the energy, inner force inside that activates all movements outside.

Learning to have as Gurdjieff would say: »One eye inside, one eye outside » in all activities

Strong connection with earth and centring in the hara

Learning to be both: relaxed and alert at the same time

If the movement is sharp in its manifestation, (ex: dervish dances), inside the dancer must remain quiet and detached

If the movement is slow and round and fluid in its manifestation, inside we remain very clear, crisp and alert

Economy of movement

More presence in the feelings

The dances strengthen the « inner fire ’, personal longing and motivation necessary for all creativity to be born and actualised;

They help gathering and crystallising the courage necessary for self exposure;

More sensitivity and connections with others beyond words, as the teaching happens mostly in silence and music. The participants are connected, not through their personality, but through their essence, a communion, of presences;

Balance between feminine and masculine polarities, action and letting go of action.

More presence in the mind

Clarity of vision. Development of insight and quick initiative;

Involvement of the mind with the body, the part of the mind that is intelligence, and not reference to past and future, but that lives in the here and now

Necessary to remember sequences of movements, counting sometimes, lists of words etc…

Necessary to understand the patterns of the dances, the rhythms, the compositions

Necessary to register the different effects of the movements inwardly, and in this way, re-discover the ancient meaning of these movements

More awareness in listening others and being one with the music

Increase of focus and attention

Clarity of presentation of oneself in front of a public

The dances require an execution that has to be done without hesitation, but very precisely and with totality

The movements require a participation of the 3 centres of a human being: physical, emotional and mental, and are meant to create a harmony and synchronicity between these 3 centres, when they are done with the correct approach, thus creating unity of being.

First, we learn to BE, then we are able to DO

As a group work, this process reinforces strongly the cohesion between participants

Each one, alone, and yet together. If one person makes a mistake, it has effects throughout the whole group. Each is responsible for oneself, and for the whole group

It reinforces then the feeling of responsibility during a collective creation.

The movements open the participant to a higher state of consciousness, a very active and vibrant state, in every little action that he has to execute.

The body, better known and lived, feels more free, as if it was lighter, animated by a more subtle quality of energy, usually not felt in our daily practice

The movements were not created for their beauty, even though they are very charismatic, but they were meant to open up the participant to this higher quality of energy, and help them to reach to a higher level of being, in their daily life.