Verified

Gurdjieff at Carnegie Hall

  • Location New York, 57th Street & 7th Avenue
  • Date Sep 6 2011
  • Time 15:32
  • Category SPIRITUAL BEAUTY   
  • Incident Incident
  • Nearby Incident Nearby Incident

Incident Report Description

After A. R. Orage made ready the way for Gurdjieff’s arrival, in 1924 the master appeared in New York in typically explosive fashion. It was not as a dry lecturer, or as a mystical Eastern swami that he would bring his message to the new world, impress audiences and gain adherents in America. New Yorkers, after all, were known as tough customers, and Gurdjieff always had a powerful and effective sense of the theatrical. In Paris the year before, at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Gurdjieff had wooed audiences with performances of his celebrated “movements,” the sacred dances that he claimed he had learned from initiates of the Sarmoung Brotherhood in Central Asia. Now, he had arrived in Manhattan with a crack troupe of his best dancers, ready to put on a show the likes of which most New Yorkers had never seen before. Between January and March of that year, Gurdjieff’s troupe gave several performances in New York, as well as in Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Audiences were stunned, and in another life it’s likely Gurdjieff could have been another Diaghilev – indeed, the Russian master of ballet had taken an interest in Gurdjieff’s troupe and wanted to include them in his Ballet Russe. The last performance was given at Carnegie Hall on 3 March. Although the colour, music, movement, and dazzle impressed the audience – among whom could be found some of New York’s leading intelligentsia – the most exciting part of the show was a demonstration of Gurdjieff’s famous “stop” exercise. Starting from far back stage, at a command from Gurdjieff, the dancers careered toward the footlights. As Gurdjieff calmly lit a cigarette, the entire troupe flew off the stage in a “human avalanche,” landing among the orchestra, empty seats, the floor, and wherever else they fell, and remained there, utterly motionless, until the master gave the signal and they stood up, unharmed.
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