September 20, 2019
Ongoing 5Rhythms™ with young refugee women from Lawrence House (Home for refugee youth, Cape Town, South Africa) by Hannah Lowenthal
GirlCircle was founded in 2015 at Lawrence House. Coming out of workshops with all the young people in the home, we felt it would be most valuable to create an ongoing GirlCircle: meeting, dancing the rhythms, sharing stories and asking questions.
Our sessions are the only time these young women are in a girls’ only space. It is a space of trust, acceptance, listening and expressing. The girls are able to ask questions about absolutely anything, talk about whatever interests them, dance anything and everything that is moving and co-create the way we spend the time together. It is an ongoing and consistent way in which they can be outside of the house and simply be teenagers in the wild dance of change.
Each of these young women has made some kind of journey, usually treacherous, from another African country such as Congo, Kenya, Angola, Rwanda or Burundi and arrived in Cape Town, South Africa. Through different circumstances, she has found her way to a home and now has the opportunity of redefining herself. Most ties with family, culture & tradition have been abruptly severed. This is the long road to rediscovering who she is as a ‘foreigner’.
When we first introduced these young women to the dance, they were quite shy and self-conscious. ‘Dancing my own dance’ was a blank space which needed time and care. From the everyday of disappearing into the group; sharing bedrooms, bathrooms, tasks, clothes and house parents, it took some time for each girl to begin finding her own voice.
Every session includes dancing the 5Rhythms – a leap into a newfound sense of being and the journey home –-not across lands but rather into the landscapes of their own bodies and hearts.
More and more, these young women attune to the dance of their own hearts; they feel as if they do have a place in the world, they feel worthy of receiving and of expressing themselves just the way that they are in the moment. Where there is no space or no tolerance in their everyday lives, the dance is a place to find refuge and to remember themselves: alive, inspired, creative and connected.
Through the map of the rhythms, I could bring seemingly abstract themes into experiential explorations; as a movement, as a dance. Young people who were too afraid to close their eyes, having witnessed war and horror, can now rest in the dance of stillness and connect with some basic sense of ‘safety’ in their own bodies –
September is an exciting month for us and the GirlCircle as we will hold a full weekend camp for them. We will be dancing and living together, giving these women an opportunity to spend time in the beauty of nature. With thanks to 5Rhythms Reach Out for our soundsystem!
Hannah Loewenthal is a dancer, choreographer & teacher. Hannah completed her teacher training with Gabrielle Roth in NYC in 2008 and holds an international accreditation to teach the Waves & Heartbeat level of the 5Rhythms® Practice. Together with a background in design, she works in theatre, schools, organisations and institutions and with the public in Africa and abroad. She works worldwide to develop embodied practice and the holistic empowerment of women and youth. She is based in Cape Town, South Africa.