Jessmin & Dushka Howarth
“When my mother first encountered Gurdjieff in 1922, he and a group of thirty or so followers had just arrived in Paris by a long and difficult route, driven out of Russia by the Revolution. Though formerly of the intelligentsia and aristocracy, these ‘refugees’ had few European contacts or readily marketable skills and no financial resources. They spoke little French or English and even their legal status was uncertain.
“Mother, on the other hand, orphaned at an early age and having endured a grim childhood in Victorian England, had the good fortune and talent to be sent as a teenager to cosmopolitan pre-World War I Dresden for advanced violin studies. There a multi-national community of avant-garde artists and performers at the Dalcroze Institute in Hellerau welcomed her into their midst. With their encouragement and collaboration, she developed her other talents in the fields of dance, pantomime, and physical therapy, changing her life’s direction.
“Ten years later, at the time of Gurdjieff’s arrival, Mother, then thirty, was already at the peak of a career as choreographer for the Paris Opera, a sought-after teacher of Dalcroze Eurythmics and pantomime, and an esteemed veteran of the history-making theatrical experiment, Jacques Copeau’s Vieux Colombier.
“How unlikely the meeting, much less the relationship, of these two, Gurdjieff and Mother! And how difficult for me, a result, to understand years hence…”_Dushka Howarth, from the Preface of It’s Up To Ourselves.