Gurdjieff created and introduced a substantial number of “sacred dances.” Some were, he indicated, temple dances that he had encountered in his travels and was able to recall. Others he invented himself. They are usually referred to as The Movements.
The music played during the movements is piano music, jointly composed by Thomas De Hartmann and Gurdjieff. The movements can be thought of as “objective art” of a kind. To judge whether that is so one has to participate rather than watch.
Gurdjieff introduced hundreds of movements. Some are strenuous, some are complex, some are fast, some are slow.
The physical postures that the dancers adopt in the movements are often entirely new, in the sense of never having taken up that specific posture before. The movement of the body from one posture to another will also be a movement one has never executed before.
It may be the case that such movements, in combination with the music to which they are performed, provoke emotions and thoughts that are new, or if not new, then rare. Many Gurdjieff groups include movements teachers who keep the tradition of the movements alive.
Gurdjieff’s Movements are a spiritual legacy of incalculable significance.
The Movements were created by Gurdjieff during two distinct periods of his life from:
The early Movements – 1918 until 1924.
The later Movements – 1939 until 1949.
Gurdjieff Movements can be divided into seven categories:
- The six ‘Obligatories’
- Ritual exercises
- Women’s Dances
- Men’s ethnic dances—dervish and Tibetan
- Sacred temple dances and Tableau
- Thirty-nine Series of Movements (partially enneagrammatic series)
The early Movements he created are all in the first six categories, and they were performed on stage in 1923 in Paris and in 1924 in America.
The later Movements are all in the last category or the Thirty-nine Series. These are a selection made by Gurdjieff out of exercises given by him during the last period of his life, from 1939 until his death in 1949.
Gurdjieff taught movements classes for different groups of people almost every day, as he was approaching the last decade of his life until his death.