Thirty years ago, after watching one of the early movements films, Mme de Salzmann asked “What is movement?” The question remains, and will always remain. Movement is life. All living things move, from the stars in the heavens to the smallest part. Movement is the essence of life and within the atom the particles dance, reflecting the movement of the stars and all is vibrating energy. Movement is change. Movement is in time. And behind movement is stillness, as behind noise is silence, out of time. The greatest stillness contains all movement: stillness, silence—the constant presence of God.
It was Easter 1947 and I was a teenager in Paris. One day I went with Kenneth Walker to see a movements class taken by Mr. Gurdjieff in the Salle Pleyel. I had no knowledge of what I was seeing although I must already have sensed something from my mother. As I watched, I simply wondered at something extraordinary. Its call was direct and strong. I remember asking myself what kept the participants going on and on as they did.
When Mr. Gurdjieff sent Alfred Etiévant to London to form classes, early in October 1949, I was there. We were very fortunate. We worked two or three nights a week, with great intensity, learning a large number of movements, chiefly those composed by Mr. Gurdjieff in the last years of his life. This phase culminated in the demonstrations at the Fortune Theatre in London, followed by the first film, made in Paris during the summer of 1951. At that time, the English mostly filled in at the back of the French class. This introduction to the movements took place during my medical studies, completed in 1952. I have worked in movements classes ever since.
Looking back now, with children and grandchildren, after years of working as a doctor, I seem to have lived in two worlds at once. One has been the world of work, family and friends; the other is the world of movements. It is another world with quite a different time
[The complete text is available in the printed copy of this issue.]
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Joanna Haggarty was a member of the Gurdjieff Society of London and was introduced to the Work by her mother, a pupil of P. D. Ouspensky. After attending Ouspensky’s last lecture in London in 1947, she joined a group led by Kenneth Walker. She met Gurdjieff briefly in 1949, and began movements with Alfred Etiévant later that year. She participated in two documentary movements films and in Peter Brook’s film, Meetings With Remarkable Men, and was a movements assistant in London and Norway for many years. She died in 1994. This text was first published in The Gurdjieff Society: Report of the Council to Members, (London) April 1995–1996, pp. 19–27.
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Featured: Fall 2003 Issue, Vol. VII (1)
Revision: November 1, 2003