Movements with Mrs Adie (Part III)

“Sense Yourself. Feel Yourself.”

But, for me. the most important element of Mrs Adie’s teaching of movements was her showing us how to work at the movements by mobilising ourselves as a whole, including or embracing mind, feeling, and sensation. I do not recall her exact words, but I do recall her using the words “feel” and “sense” a great deal. The idea was not just to take the movement, but to feel myself as I took it. Mrs Adie did not say “feel the movement.” It was to be aware of one’s own feeling while taking the gesture, the posture, or moving. I was to sense the arm or the foot or whatever as it was moving, but also to sense myself.

In a word, Mrs Adie had us direct our attention, I might say a vivified but not excited attention, to feel and sense ourselves as we were moving. On one occasion, someone made an impression upon her and she called him up to the platform and had him take the leg movements: they were kicks with the feet, on place, as in the “Am Om Um Im,” but I cannot now be sure it was just that movement. She drew our attention to how he moved: “There is a life in the movement.” And there was. I reiterate, not excited, not frenzied, not even really vigorous, but vivified.

This is why, for me, the term “movements” does not do justice to what Gurdjieff brought. I would prefer to speak of “the Sacred Dances,” or “the Sacred Movements.”

And yet, there was nothing pompous about Mrs Adie. She was devoted, with simplicity, to the purpose. I recall at the start of one year, she asked: What do you say is the purpose of the movements?” One of the men answered: “To bring mind, feeling, and body into a harmonious relation.” Mrs Adie thought for a moment and said: “Yes, that’s right.”

Her playing of the music was extraordinary. I cannot say much more about it. It was a sort of message from a higher plane, a realised aspiration to rise. After her, the music was only ever accompaniment. With her, it was a guide.

For me, one particular experience during movements with Mrs Adie is indelibly imprinted upon me. I was not long in the group, and I had by now realised that I did not understand what feeling was. I had thought that feeling was equivalent to emotion, and that therefore I understood it perfectly well. But the Adies spoke about feeling as something deeper than emotion, something which brought me to a sense of myself and to the quality of my being. I would say now that I had started to understood that while the emotions I knew were an uncontrollable reaction, passive in origin, to an external situation; feeling would be something more like a response from some central and relatively calm place in me. My ability to articulate it was not yet so clear, but that was the direction. And I knew that the Adies experienced it. I also knew that I had not.

And then it happened. One day, in the movements class, working at one the esoteric movements, I think it was Number 2, I was moving the arms, a hand, and maybe the right leg, and possibly the head, although I cannot be sure of the head. Then I started to feel a trembling in the solar plexus. This drew my attention to my state. My state was serious and unusually quiet. My head was attentive, but not thinking about what I was doing. I understood, soon after, that this was the emerging of feeling from beneath the crust by which it had been suffocated.

The conscious presence of Mrs Adie herself was a major element in this, but we did not realise that until after she was no longer there, and something of the magic had disappeared. Incidentally, if we had not learned the movements to an appropriate standard before the end of the year, we would be obliged to come up on weekends for extra practice. During the year, incidentally, we were not only allowed but encouraged to make our own private notes for practise during the week.

Each evening, after the movements, we would change, have a light supper, and meet again for an exchange concerning our efforts over the week from the angle of Gurdjieff’s practical ideas.

At de Salzmann’s request, the Adies had a film made of their movements classes. Again, at her request, Mr Adie also appeared in it.

The following extract from a group meeting of 18 March 1982 explains something of Mrs Adie’s approach to the movements. On this evening, a young woman said: “…in the dervish movement that we do, we express force through the movement, I find when I’m doing it that my body becomes tense, and I’m trying to express force, and when I relax physically, the movement is limp, there’s nothing there, there seems to be no inner force to be expressed through movement, and I find this in my life away from here, as well. When I release the tension and stop trying in one way, the effort seems so feeble and weak. How can I find the impulse in life?”

Mrs Adie replied: “It’s something very subtle and difficult to find, something you have to look for. It doesn’t come naturally. The force is your feeling. In a way, the feeling of force is inside, and the action comes as a result. You can’t do it from outside, you can’t sort of put your leg down with force, not in that way. It’s something you can’t express it in words. You feel the rhythm, receive the impression of the rhythm of a different way, perhaps, in your feeling. Your general attitude and thought have to help your feeling in that respect. It’s something that can’t be forced in any way. It comes as a result of a strong impulse inside, an inner feeling of that rhythm, and at the same time it’s related to the actual place you have to fill, the actual movements. But this is all words, it takes all the life away from the experience.”

25 April 2020, Joseph Azize


  1. Joseph Azize says:
    ‘This is why, for me, the term “movements” does not do justice to what Gurdjieff brought. I would prefer to speak of “the Sacred Dances,” or “the Sacred Movements.” ‘

    And based on your stated reasons, if you will forgive this introjection from a lifelong dancer who knows his field and craft well, the most correct term would be “Sacred Eurthymics”. “Sacred Eurythmy” is also accurate, but that immediately brings up Rudolf Steiner, who borrowed that ancient term, and his very differently conceived and impulsed movement art.

    (I would, actually take all this a step further and subtly refer to The Movements as “Mundane Eurythmics” — but, I will refrain from the necessarily complex discussion of my reasons behind that)

    ‘Movements’ does indeed come across as too imprecise and ‘Dance’, even ‘Sacred Dance’
    it technically is not.

    Roger Lipsey, if I made be so bold, engaged in wild speculation in GURDJIEFF RECONSIDERED regarding Dalcroze and his art form. He parlays in fantasy about a topic he clearly does not understand.

    Thank you for a wonderfully detailed series of articles which has been of great personal value. Each part delivered quite a few “shocks” regarding ‘what’ and ‘why’ transversed the trajectory of my life.

    1. Pardon me, that last line should end:
      “. . . regarding “what” and “who” transversed the trajectory of my life”

      The “why” those elements magnetized remains a still-unfolding reveal.

      Thank you.

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