Academy of Gurdjieff Dance


3 ten-day residential workshops: Fall, Winter, Spring
6 three-day, weekend workshops: Sept., Oct., Nov., Feb., March, April

The Academy offers a synthesis of ancient understandings and contemporary investiga­tions into a continuous human development consciously actualized and intentionally maintained. The foundation for this way of continuous human development is the prac­tice of a divided attention simultaneously actualized within the body and outside the body.

Within the Academy is an ancient art-and-science of Being and Becoming — and therein lies the Academy’s distinctive approach to Gurdjieff Dance. The Academy’s Way of Teaching and of Learning How To Learn is a model developed over a period of thirty-five years of intensive research into dance and meditation pedagogy by James Tomarelli and his Friends and Associates.

The inner work and outer form of Gurdjieff Dance is taught in a circle accompanied by live acoustic music. When teaching and learning the Gurdjieff Inner Exercises, silence replaces music. Circles allow for immediate non-verbal threefold awareness and experience of self and the group, it also a threefold whole of others who also are 1) sensing self, 2) aware of self and others, and 3) maintaining an outer seeing and inner imaging of each other, our common aim, dance, exercise, and so on, i.e. what we are doing together. Ultimately this Way of Working with Gurdjieff Dance results in perceptions of self and other that are finely tuned and able to discern the quality of attention of self and others in the moment of real seeing.

Live music allows for the temporary learning triad of teacher-dancers-dance to give way to the manifesting triad of music-dancers-dance. In the former, the teacher is a temporary active element; in the latter, the music is active, the dancers receptive, and the dance reconciling manifests through the dancers. Students will learn and ultimately be able to shift from one role and state of presence to the other without thinking.

Within this model, participants, in maintaining the holistic attention appropriate to each dance or inner exercise, quickly experience reciprocal feeding. The implications — for life, education, health, relationship, and community — of this cooperative way of working become obvious in the experience of it.

Inner exercises, movement and music awareness exercises, and sacred dances will be introduced and individual and group practice outside of the regular seminars will be supported. Active Awareness of one’s own active participation in the seminars as a basic foundation for personal growth and the development of group consciousness will be discussed and understood from experience. The value of this way-of-working has also been proven in therapeutic and healing situations, and will be further developed and explored rhroughtout the training as will be the role of active attention and global awareness in the process of self development and self healing.


  • new understanding of “effort.”
  • a new feeling of confidence, with a clear mind, and a relaxed body.
  • health and harmony of body systems.
  • a new relationship with our interior world in the midst of daily life.
  • an attention that is whole and impartial
  • a mind that lets go of judgments.
  • a group consciousness that values individual expression
  • a new quality of awareness of others
  • a new quality of respect for others.
  • a seeing of things as they are, which allows for what we wish to come into being.
  • a feeling of compassion for self and others.
  • introductory and advanced practice of morning exercises that release, transform and blend energies inside the body.
  • daily intensive practice of Gurdjieff Dance.
  • psychological interventions, practices, and themes.
  • complementary practices for mind-body development introduced by guest teachers.
  • group interactive discussions with mindful awareness and active listening.
  • all seminars are in English with Italian, German or Spanish translation when needed.
  • early morning introductory and advanced group sittings.
  • Practical work and meal preparation.
  • silence in nature and in the society of others.
  • practices from Buddhist, Sufi, and Christian esoteric traditions.
  • using The Gurdjieff / de Hartmann music to facilitate deepening our inner work.
  • relaxation in action.
  • having a right relationship with one’s body.
  • acquiring and maintaining a threefold experience of our inner and outer world.
  • sensitivity training.
  • development of body-mind connections.
  • an attention that does not come from the mind.
  • research into non-hierarchical team building and group consciousness development.
  • threefold awareness of others.
  • sincerity with- and respect for- others.
  • body-centered awareness.
  • an independent and impartial center of awareness.
  • an attention that is impartial to experience.


• Active attention on weight, posture, breath, and the interrelationship and innterplay of tension and relaxation

  • Introduction to movements, sacred dance, ritual dance and corresponding music.
  • inner exercises for the awareness of energies .
  • sensitivity to energies in oneself and others.
  • psychology of continuous development through practice of attention and awareness exercises.
  • individual and group practice with periodic discussions to share the results of our practice— in an atmosphere of awareness and love.
  • silence to deepen and assimilate our practice.
  • meditation practices for receptivity and opening to the unseen.


The Program of Practice & Study

First Year:
The role of the body and the practice of attention in the production of energies necessary the work of transformation.

The Body and its Functions of Moving, Feeling, and Thinking. Exploring the interior world of the Body. Highlighting expereinces that draw us deeper into the mystery of being and becoming. Getting to know the Life in our Body.

Four Phases, each phase is accumulative

Phase 1 (three months)

Body, Weight, Posture, and Relaxation

This phase will introduce inner and outer (movement) exercises for a direct personal experience of body, weight, posture, breath and the body’s natural impulses of relaxation. How, through the use of attention and awareness we can separate out these experiences in ourselves and re-integrate them for a deeper appreciation of our physical presence.

  • relaxation is natural to the body; using the three primary impulses of relaxation to allow the body to relax in its own way.
  • using our awareness of weight, breath, and body to contact the organic impulses of relaxation
  • sensing and locating our physical center
  • specialized music and its effects on the experience of our body when listening. Ways to listen.
  • introduction to movements and sacred dance
  • individual and group practice, and home study


Phase 2 (three months)

Breath and Air and the Awareness of Interior and Exterior Worlds

Through a relaxed awareness of our breath we can begin to explore our interior and exterior worlds in a new way. This phase will introduce exercises for a direct perception of our breath and the air we breath. How, from this perception we can become impartial with respect to our experience. How, through awareness of our breath, we can connect our interior and exterior worlds of experience.

  • relaxation in action
  • the distinction between, and the use of, attention and awareness
  • inner exercises, movements and sacred dances that use the “I” “Me” “Am” breath exercise.
  • deepening your individual practice


Phase 3 (three months)

Energies in the Body, Energy Centers in the Body, and Air and Impressions as Food for Development of Presence

This phase will introduce inner and outer (movement) exercises for the separation of energies and a personal exploration of the interior world. Energy, air, impressions, sensations, feelings and thoughts as food for continuous development. The enhancement and creation of finer energies.

  • different kinds of food and the transformation of the energies of experience.
  • separation of energies • the transforming body
  • activating/energizing chakras: levels of body presence & awareness of life in the body
  • the six-point exercise and the energizing of life in the body
  • presence in the body, in the mind, in the feelings and in sacred dance.

Phase 4 (three months)

The Power of Seeing, Awareness of Life Inside and Outside, Working Together, Group Consciousness

This phase will introduce inner and movement exercises for deepening our awareness of others and recognizing our place in group and community.

  • awareness of breath • awareness of others • group awareness
  • divided attention and the separation of energies
  • sensation, feeling, thought and the arising of pure experience free from content
  • ritual dances and multiplication movements from the esoteric cycle of movements
  • the power of seeing, noticing, and visualizing


Some Specific Aims of the Program Through the Practice of the Inner Exercises:

1.)  The role of the body: an investigation of the relationship that exists between the state of one’s body and that which we are searching for in ourselves. An investigation of the resources the body brings to one’s inner search for meaning when it functions harmoniously.

2.) The role of relaxation and awareness in the transformation of (healing of) impulses contrary to our aim in life.

3.)  The value and use of divided attention for seeing and noticing things as they are and for allowing what we wish for.


Through the Practice of the Movements and Sacred Dances:

1.) A new understanding of effort is revealed. This often reveals feelings of confidence, clear thinking, and a relaxed body present to the life in it.

2.) We have the opportunity to discover a new feeling of presence and to connect with our essential being through a harmonizing and re-ordering of the body’s functions.

3.) The difficulty of gesture, the wish for more precise execution, and the degree of sustained, relaxed attention demanded, may further lead the participant to the discovery of unsuspected possibilities.

4.) To contact subtle energies in the body, to allow for those inner movements of attention that separate finer energies, and to allow these energies to recombine in a new way. Thus a new relationship with our  interior life begins to take place inside the demands of daily life.

5.) An understanding of the deeper meaning of “sacred” is revealed when the movements are accompanied by a refined and relaxed state of presence.



The exercises, dances, and rituals are from the oral tradition of GI Gurdjieff as further developed and expanded by his direct students, including JG Bennett, with whom James Tomarelli, the director of the Academy, personally studied. The Academy’s Way of Teaching and of Learning How To Learn is a model developed over a period of thirty-five years of intensive research into dance and meditation pedagogy by James Tomarelli and his Friends and Associates.

Instructor’s Background & Experience

James Tomarelli lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and manages Bennett Books Publishing.

James is a Buddhist Vipassana practitioner in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin as taught by S.N. Goenka and has experienced and practiced Sufism in direct contact with the late M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen of Jaffna, Sri Lanka.

In 1984, in Santa Fe, James began researching—through the offering of public Movements classes — the role of the body and the practice of attention in producing finer energies in the body for the work of transformation. Toward this aim, he guides others in the use of Gurdjieff’s dances and inner exercises.

James Tomarelli (1944-), BS Physics & Psychology, studied Gurdjieff’s Teaching since 1967. In 1974-75 at the International Academy for Continuous Education, under the direction of JG Bennett, he began intensive work with Gurdjieff’s Movements, Sacred Dances, and Inner Exercises. From 1975-82 he continued his studies at The Claymont Society for Continuous Education, under the direction of elder students of Gurdjieff. At Claymont through group and community work and by assistant teaching of students, he continued developing his practice and understanding of the inner and movements exercises.

Since 1992, James has maintained regular contact with communities and groups interested in Gurdjieff’s Teaching and its application to life goals. His skills and methods, along with his understanding and practice, have been influenced by direct students of Gurdjieff, including JG Bennett, Elizabeth Bennett, Pierre Elliot, A.L. Staveley, Mary Cornelius, and others, and through connections with elders and senior movements teachers in the Gurdjieff Foundation.


About G.I. Gurdjieff

Georgi Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (1877-1949) was a teacher whose ideas have influenced generations of men and women throughout the world ever since his first appearance in Moscow in 1913.

A “teacher of dance,” G.I. Gurdjieff introduced a large body of Movements and Sacred Dances to his students. Many are from the regions of North Africa through Central Asia (and possibly as far as Tibet); many are of his own creation.

Born to Armenian-Greek parents, he grew up in the Caucasus amongst multi-cultural and religious traditions, both ancient and modern. Trained in religion and medicine, he embarked on a lifelong search for a body of knowledge he suspected had its roots in ancient traditions and which might encompass and shed light on the meaning of man’s existence. His journeys to almost inaccessible centers of learning, temples, and monasteries brought him into contact with the rituals of dance and music of many countries of Central Asia.


Gurdjieff’s collaborations in the 1920s with Russian composer Thomas de Hartmann produced a large body of piano pieces. The music they composed was designed to bring about a harmonization of the human psyche, and make possible a higher emotional experience.

” music helps to concentrate oneself, to bring oneself to an inner state where we can assume the greatest possible emanations.” —Thomas de Hartmann

In the music we can find a relationship with the inner and out work of the movements. The rhythm sustains the body in correct relation to the earth. The melodies evoke feelings in the participant corresponding to qualities appropriate to the movement.

The musicians, along with the dances are part of the alchemy of the movement.