Mr. Gurdjieff categorized art as either Subjective, stemming from the subjective impulses of the artist, or what he termed "Objective Art". Objective art is said to be a means of preserving and transmitting certain knowledge, based on mathematically exact principles, and creates experiences intended by the artist in the attentive participant, varying only by degree. Mr. Gurdjieff considered art, including music and dance, as a means for harmonious development of man.
Sacred Dances have a special place in the teaching of Mr. Gurdjieff. He proposed that man is a creature of his habits, his reactions, and his functions, all of which have become automatic. It may not be possible to realize, without special conditions, the extent to which we are prisoners of these forces. The special conditions created by the properly guided study of his Sacred Dances, or Movements may allow us to see ourselves more fully, and could provide a direct experience of possibilities within ourselves beyond those to which we have become habituated. After some time of study, the Movements, together with other forms of work, may support a quite extraordinary search within.
The "Movements" are a means of combining the mind and the feeling with movements of the body and manifesting them together, developing the whole man. The dances contain knowledge or ideas in a specific way. They are spiritual exercises, to be studied along with the support of a study of the application of the ideas of Mr. Gurdjieff in the context of a properly constituted group. Without that support, the Movements lose much, if not all, of their meaning.
Mr. Gurdjieff introduced these dances first to a group of people studying with him in Tiflis in 1919, and taught them until his death in 1949. Great care is now taken to transmit them as they were given without embellishment or distortions.
Movements may allow us to see ourselves more fully, and could provide a direct experience of possibilities within ourselves beyond those to which we have become habituated.