"May reconciliation, hope, diligence and justice be ever with you all.” Gurdjieff, 1912

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The Society, from time to time, may share our replies to selected Email inquiries -  inasmuch as the comments and advice may be of general  value to others.

Following is a reply (from Dushka Howarth) to an email inquiry with a DVD attached of the movements  of a relatively new Movement class:

    ... I have (watched the DVD).. I think it is a wonderful class, working hard, and I am
 so happy to see you concentrating on the Obligatories.

     I have found in recent years that classes everywhere are more anxious to jump to
the later exercises (even many that Mr. Gurdjieff never even finished..)...about all this please read what I have just this week put onto a new website for my Gurdjieff heritage society: www.gurdjieff-heritage-society.org (go to the movements page) for the moment, about your class I will just mention some general impressions:

    Your people are young and active...too active...using too much energy... positions too big, almost careless, just thrown out, tempos too fast (I know using the orchestral music is exciting! The tempo may be good for listening but is simply wrong for moving! those musicians have never done the exercises).

     Everyone's all-important basic posture is often forgotten and distorted, feet no longer parallel, hands not in line with forearm, fingers loose or, on the contrary, tense and in a distorted fist, etc. 

    ....I know they are called "the movements" but it is what is behind the moving that is important! ...The preparation...the visualization in advance, knowing with one's head, feeling with one's "wish", sensing the right tonicity with one's body...the collecting of energy...then the exact, immediate taking of the position with the absolute economy of energy...then sensing and observing within each position...preparing for the next position...and the next many sequences...being sensitive to the unity of all one's parts and functions...and sensitive to all the rest of the class and their relation to you and your common aim....etc. etc.

     Whew! yes, it is a big task and not to be attempted lightly! 

    OK, Ii will start you off with an obvious "beginning"...no...because you have been working long and well...so lets call it: "a refresher!" 

   Please go back to the first obligatory and approach it (as it was intended) as a sensation exercise.

    First your pianist must practice playing it in a quite different way...with a steady pulse from beginning to end so that the class feels to always take each position instantaneously, all together, but then hold it (sensing and observing, going inward especially on that special *"one"*) for four steady counts then the next time three counts, then two counts (each separated by a pause equal to the next series) i.e.
10 positions  counting each four counts then a pause of three counts

     10 positions  counting three counts   "                 two counts

     10 positions  counting two     '           '          '  four counts

     10 positions   "       four               "             three, etc

     I am attaching the music correctly adapted for this use of the exercise according to my mother!

     With the help of Kevin Roberts I had it rewritten for people to see exactly what is meant. (Tell the pianist T meant to indicate pedaling to hold the final chord of a sequence to include the pause.)   You must all realize how important the steady pulse is and therefore how essential it is to start at the right tempo (it may feel very slow to you at first.)  To find this right tempo for your particular class I suggest asking everyone to work individually for a while with eyes closed doing the leg positions (the most difficult to do fast) exactly but keeping sensation totally in them. start slowly then get faster and faster. the tempo at which most of your people begin to lose contact/control is a hint for you and the pianist to decide what should be the "fastest tempo"/two counts per position for everyone...therefore begin twice as slowly as this (for four counts per position).

    I am also sending you an article by Kevin Roberts (and two people who worked with him, Leah Roberts and teacher/pianist Any Rylander Jones), they had been asking my advice (so I am the "mentor" he mentions).  You might try working in this way with a metronome for a few times. especially as it will give your pianist (or "pianists", as I hope you are preparing several) a much needed, I'm sure, opportunity to actually do the exercises she/he has to play for.  

The last two attachments are from the book by my mother and myself that I am working on (hopefully to be out in a few months).  it is the easiest way for me to share with you what I mean by your attitude to moving in the movements class...and the formula for a correct basic posture.

Best wishes,


PS:  A last reminder - since some of the music books have published the wrong order, note that the order of the Obligatories in the "excerpts" was written by mother and is correct. This is important since the Obligatories (people have so often forgotten) were intended by Gurdjieff as a "suite" to be done all together, one after another in that order with a special (******?)

    The first one is simple but so correct for the body that it may give a respectful beginner a "moment of grace", a "taste" of awareness...

    But then the first march requires one to work a bit more outwards and around the body to develop that small core of awareness into directed attention and begin to expand it.

    Then the counting brings in (differently every time) all kinds of challenges to the intellect/formatory center strengthening attention further.

   Then the note values...more challenges and opportunity to re-enforce the core of attention...etc.

    So I hope you can complete the series with the march forward and the mazurka and get the full benefit of these extraordinary opportunities.


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     Photographs on this website appear in Jessmin & Dushka Howarth's Book "It's Up To Ourselves" A Mother, A Daughter, and GURDJIEFF