Emergence of Circles of Four

Often it seems as if authentic movement has always existed, but somehow for reasons that I don’t understand, it has been my chosen task to witness, to record my experience of its unfolding, its inherent order made increasingly visible. Similarly, I wonder if all gestures already exist within the pregnancy of the empty studio space. Because of the presence of their witnesses, maybe it is the movers’ responsibility – or is it their longing – to enter these gestures, bringing each one in exquisite detail into the light of consciousness.

In these fifty years of my commitment to the Discipline of Authentic Movement, a way of life clarifies as a devotional practice, perhaps because immersion in it depends upon an experience of relationship – an evolving relationship with oneself, another, the collective, and that which is invisible, unnameable.

Circles of Four, an international postgraduate program of practice and study for those wishing to become teachers of the discipline, is one manifestation of this pathway. The formation of this collective is an offering back, in gratitude, to each student whose dedication to this way of work is reflected in their teaching practice. In collaboration, because of the commitment of each one in my presence and in the presence of their colleagues similarly dedicated, a form strengthens, a practice is honed. Circles of Four was created not only to acknowledge and to clarify study and practice which is necessary to teach the discipline, but most importantly to welcome, to offer the discipline to those individuals who recognize this particular embodied process concentrated within the development of consciousness.

One subtle but consistent thread that connects years of engagement in the evolution of studio work is an emergence of questions arising, as if from a timeless, underground stream always moving. These questions articulate, and in so doing, guide the arrival of new boundaries necessary to contain the experience of not knowing, of risking, of trusting what can become intuitive knowing. 

And a fresh question appears: how will an international post-graduate program be held and sustained by a collective body of teachers without a director? I remember when the Mary Starks Whitehouse Institute, the first school committed to the practice and study of Authentic Movement, began in my studio in Northampton, Massachusetts, in the fall of 1981. The experience of embodied individual consciousness emerging was dominant at that time. The experience of an embodied collective consciousness, the actual journey we each would be making toward membership in a collective body, was not yet known to us.

Forty years later, there exists a vibrant, international collective body of individuals practicing, studying, teaching the discipline. A way of collaborative work is becoming increasingly available to those in search of a mystical practice sourced in embodied awareness, to those choosing an experience of evolving witness consciousness that includes both the personal and transpersonal phenomenon that grounds clear seeing.

We can now perceive the wholeness of the complex and liberating journey of an individual’s development into membership in an embodied conscious collective. For this reason, our learning organically extends into a program of preparation in which it is precisely a collective body, a circle of four, the learner and three teachers. Circles of Four is a formal reflection of the wholeness of such a passage, in service to each learner, to each teacher.

In a dream months before the emergence of Circles of Four, I am holding an infant with an ancient face. Carrying her over a bridge, I hand her to many individuals, many people with their arms open, receiving this mysterious discipline that I love. And all is well.

Janet Adler, Galiano Island, B. C., May 2020