Authentic Movement is a simple form of self-directed movement, usually done with eyes closed and attention directed inward, in the presence of at least one witness. Movers explore spontaneous gestures, movements, and stillness, following inner impulses in the present moment. The witness watches and tracks inner responses to the mover with the intention of focusing on self-awareness.
Authentic Movement cultivates a contemplative frame of mind and clarity of perception. In moving and being seen by another, the relationship between mover and witness creates a powerful framework within which this work takes place. Authentic Movement can be practiced individually or in groups.
Authentic Movement’s original practitioners integrated Jung’s concept of active imagination with modern dance movement improvisation. Students of pioneers such as Mary Whitehouse, Joan Chodorow, and Janet Adler have developed the form in various ways including:
- as a meditative, spiritual practice that integrates body and mind for increased access to consciousness.
- as part of psychotherapy process, for enhanced sense of self and and well-being; often bringing unconscious thoughts to awareness.
- as artistic support, to connect with creativity and creative process, unblocking and opening to new ideas.
- as community outreach and development in community long circles, that address and solve community-wide problems.
Authentic Movement is one way of conducting somatic inquiry; somatic inquiry is a broader term for meaningful explorations of bodily experience. In it, we hold the body as more than a mere physical frame, but as a living confluence of images and sensations. Thomas Hanna first used the term somatics in the 1970s to denote approaches to embodiment that valued bodily experience as an integral aspect of expanding human potential. Othe contemporary explorers of conscious embodiment are Stanley Keleman, Don Johnson, Irmgard Bartenieff, Ken Dychtwald, George Leonard, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, Emilie Conrad D’Oud, Bertherat Bernstein, and many others.
Somatic exploration may feel like meaningful play, may call intense feelings into consciousness, or provide access to unknown inner symbolism. At times, helpful insights emerge. At other times, change is affected below the level of conscious framing. We value the diversity of approaches to attending to the lived-experience of the body’s wisdom, and the variety of ways in which this is expressed.
Jaime Stover Schmitt . . . had the blessed good fortune to learn about and practice Authentic Movement with Janet Adler, Zoe Avstreih, and Aileen Crow. As a Russell Conwell and Roothbert Fellow, Dr. Schmitt earned her doctoral degree in Dance at Temple University, studying primarily under Dr. Edrie Ferdun, Dr. Eva Gholson, and Dr. Sara Chapman Hilsendager. Noted contemporary philosopher, Dr. Joseph Margolis served on her dissertation committee; her dissertation was concerned with discerning the loci of meaning in interpreting spontaneous movement. Dr. Schmitt also studied with dance phenomenologist, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone during her residency at Temple. As well as having been trained in several forms of bodywork, Dr. Schmitt is a certified Laban Movement Analyst, through the Laban Institute of Movement Studies, and an Infant Developmental Movement Therapist and Somatic Movement Educator through the School of Body-Mind Centering. Also, she is registered as an ERYT500 and has served on the board and standards committee of the Yoga Alliance.
Tamara Berdofe, MFA . . . has been an active innovator in the field of education for many years. As a professor at Goddard College in Vermont, she headed the dance program and was awarded a grant from the Vermont Council of the Arts for her own dance company. Her first experience working as a dance therapist was in the early 70’s teaching dance at the Waterbury, Vt. State mental institution.
Through establishing her company, Arise Futon, Inc., a manufacturing and retail Futon business that was started in New York City in 1981, Ms. Berdofe became a Fortune 500 CEO/COO. In 1985 she was listed in Who’s Who among America’s Women for that year.
In 1993, Tamara began practicing Watsu and went on to develop innovative pre-natal & post-natal Waterbabie programs while teaching & continuing her practice of Authentic Movement. In Santa Fe, New Mexico from 1994 – 2006 she created and directed Aquability, a company through which she offered Waterbabies & Authentic Movement in the Water.
As the Director of the New Mexico Dance Coalition ( a Non-Profit organization ) from 2000 – 2006 she was effective in fundraising and creating a broad spectrum of dance opportunity including but not limited to educational & performing venues for New Mexico state resident dancers, public elementary schools & collaborating artists. She continues to dance passionately in her mind, and infinitely in her spirit! Paramount in her life, Tamara is most proud to be considered a mother; she has three gifted and talented children.