Los Movimientos

Sacred Dances have been considered an essential subject of study in all esoteric schools of the East, as much in ancient times as nowadays, preserving their deep religious and scientific meaning in a real sense. The movements that make them up have a double aim – they express and contain certain knowledge, an unknown dimension that reveals what is hidden for ordinary man and, simultaneously, serve as method to obtain a harmonious state of being. The combinations of these movements express different sensations, produce several degrees of concentration of thought, create necessary efforts in different functions, and show the possibilities of individual force.

According to the teaching of Gurdjieff, there exist two poles in human beings. One pole corresponds to his potential, to his real possibilities. The other corresponds to the way he lives, in a hypnotic state. He is content with having a tolerable life, doing the bare minimum, doing the impossible to forget the drama of his mortality and his not-knowing. His life revolves around a set of insignificant and superficial interests. He is enslaved by the automatism that governs his thoughts and feelings, and this is closely related to the movements and postures he adopts. It is necessary, he says, that an individual become aware of his present condition. To try to awaken from this sleep should be the direction of his life at every moment.

If we were able to rise from our ordinary level to a higher one, it would mean that something in us has changed. Changes are governed by definite cosmic laws, and the knowledge of these laws exists and can be discovered.

The Movements and Sacred Dances that Gurdjieff bequeathed to us provide special conditions for the work of transformation, and are a method of study which helps dancers to awaken their potential, a permanent and unified "I". According to him, they introduce a series of new positions coming from conscious humanity, and originate from real knowledge which can open us to a different order within ourselves, helping us to step out of our narrow circle of automatism and habits. They provide us with a new quality of attention and presence that can take us back to the awareness of the energy source which lies behind all of existence and to the latent capacities that belong to the unknown part of our nature.

The language of these Dances is mathematical, responding to exact measurement. Each movement has its specific place, duration and weight. Combinations and sequences are calculated mathematically. Positions and attitudes are defined to produce definite emotions. In this kind of movements, those who watch can also participate; they can read them as if they were a book where mind and emotion of a higher degree are manifested. In the creation of these Movements, each detail has its own meaning. The smallest element is taken into account and nothing is left to chance or imagination. There is only one gesture, one position and one rhythm possible to represent a definite human or cosmic situation; another gesture, position or movement would not be true. If the slightest lack of calculation takes place in the composition of a movement, the Dance would be desecrated and fantasy would take the place of knowledge. All his life, Gurdjieff dedicated himself to the study of Sacred Dances, mastering their principles, which constitute a branch of objective art. By understanding the principles, Gurdjieff was able to transmit truths through the Movements.

Seen as exercises or dances, the aim of the Movements is to re-balance body-mind-emotion and a new order of their functions. They reveal the existence of a sacred science, an exact science capable of opening us to the experience of another dimension, another source of life, comprehending its real meaning only when the appearance of a higher energy reveals another level of being to us.

In order to approach this vital source it is necessary to undertake a process, to see the state of mental dependency which divides us, limits our field of awareness and makes us doubt and even forget our own ability to set ourselves free. It is only after having suffered, after having recognized our limitations, that deep acceptance and opening can appear. The inner being becomes permeable to an action of a totally different order. In the practice of the Movements, our opening to this action is put to the test constantly, and this is the essential exercise.

Mme. de Dampierre gave a very interesting description of what it is like to watch the Movements:

"When you see a performance of these Movements, you understand that they are something more than simple rhythmical exercises accompanied by suitable music. You see that they are a series of samples of beauty which follow patterns in accordance with strict laws. It is possible to feel that they demand deep concentration from the dancers. In fact, what they demand is the constant coordination of several bodily and mental positions in ever-changing patterns.

These Movements must be practiced with absolute precision, quickly and subtly. This requires much attention from the participant. At every moment, the dancer must relate to what involves the need for inner attention with the possibility of being in contact with a state of being in which knowledge can be awakened in him."