A bit of Authentic Movement and Earthdance History

From Carolyn (Shakti) Sadeh and Susan Schell.

Shakti and Susan will be returning to Earthdance to teach Authentic Movement in January 2013. Register today for their weekend intenstive: The Body is the House of Belonging.

This is a bit of ancient history speaking.

Susan and I met in the rose garden at Child’s Park in Northampton in 1982. Having completed the first year of Janet Adler’s 9 month training in Authentic Movement, I was the greeter for the 2nd year’s students and Susan was one of the new arrivals. This was the beginning of a thirty year relationship with one another that has continued evolving through our friendship, collaborations and the ongoing practice of A.M.

A few years after completing the program, we created our own 9 month experiential training in Authentic Movement. We offered it for 2 years until Susan had her first child and moved up to Maine. In that first year, one of our students was Penny Shultz, who Susan had met while teaching Contact Improv and A.M. in the Boston area and at Dance New England events. Penny eventually moved to Plainfield as one of the founding members of Earthdance. And so we came to know this unusual crew of anarchists who relocated from Boston to start a dancing life in the country, living in a funky old farmhouse, with a nearly immediately installed dance barn, and sauna next to the deep, cold quarry.

Earthdance eventually became a hub for the exploration and development of various movement forms. It provided a conducive environment and a collaborative atmosphere where inspiration, discussion, and cross pollination of ideas thrived among a diverse group of artists and approaches. Those early years were pioneering days for many different movement practices; Contact Improvisation, Body Mind Centering, Action Theater, as well as Authentic Movement.

Janet was the last person to work with Mary Whitehouse (the founder of this practice) before she died. Following Mary’s death, Janet worked with groups and individuals, teaching and developing the form. After ten years of being the sole witness for many, she wanted to be able to share and discuss with others the profound discoveries that were coming out of the work. So in 1981, she started “The Mary Starks Whitehouse Institute”. It was only a matter of time before Authentic Movement would find its way to Earthdance via Janet’s early students.

Since that time, Authentic Movement has been, and continues to be, the primary spiritual, psychological, and creative wellspring in both our lives. As witness, we have felt privileged and gifted by so many in their willingness to dive deep and trust an uncharted intelligence.