5Rhythms Tribe | The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Wellbeing

October 11, 2017


Hot off the press!

We are happy to announce that, after a few years in the making, The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Wellbeing is now a fully published tome with a chapter on 5Rhythms® (The 5Rhythms® Movement Practice: Journey to Wellbeing, Empowerment, and Transformation) written in collaboration by 5Rhythms® Teachers Mati Vargas-Gibson (Dallas, Mexico), Sarena Wolfaard (Edinburgh, South Africa), and Emma Roberts (Brighton, Paris). Building on the premise that, in recent years, a growth in dance and wellbeing scholarship has resulted in new ways of thinking that place the body, movement, and dance in a central place with renewed significance for wellbeing, this book (geared to the academic community and the general reading public), examines dance and related movement practices from the perspectives of neuroscience and health, community and education, and psychology and sociology to contribute towards an understanding of wellbeing, offer new insights into existing practices, and create a space where sufficient exchange is enabled. The handbook’s research components include quantitative, qualitative, and arts-based research, covering diverse discourses, methodologies, and perspectives that add to the development of a complete picture of the topic (from the Handbook’s Introduction). Specifically, Chapter 39 on the 5Rhythms® provides a general view of the practice with the Wave as the basis of its cosmology and its relationship and relevance to wellbeing. Experiences from participants in the 5Rhythms® community were collected through open-ended questionnaires and the data was approached through a hermeneutic phenomenology perspective that “unveils the world as experienced by the subject through their life world stories”. We also wrote about the practice from our own experience as 5Rhythms® teachers and from interviews about 5Rhythms® history with seminal colleagues such as Martha Peabody and Eliezer Sobel.

How does a great collective project like this come about? Wave after Wave, of course! Sarena Wolfaard was at the helm and expresses it best: “I was contacted by Vicki Karkou, the editor of the book, who came to dance with me a few times in Edinburgh and wanted a contribution on 5R.” Being short on time and wavelength, Sarena asked me and Emma to help with the writing and the video for the companion website. “I felt that one person’s view of 5R would be too narrow, a team would do it better justice. From there it grew organically; which was far more creative than just one person writing a chapter. And it indeed became a creative project following the Wave! Flowing from conception and my contact with Emma (meeting in London a couple of times) to Staccato with the inclusion of Mati, getting research and interviews underway, into Chaos with our back and forwards with the writing and fine tuning (not to mention Emma’s video shoot and edit!), to Lyrical, handing the completed chapter in, and now the Stillness of holding the final product in our hands.”

Giving testament that 5Rhythms® has taught us well, Emma adds, “How great we managed to do this being miles apart. I hope one day we can be in the same room,” for, you see, we have never actually danced together. Nonetheless, it was extraordinary to seamlessly ride the currents of this project and bring it to life from the deep embodiment and trust we have in the creative process, and that result from our many years of dancing and living this practice. The Chapter also serves to put 5Rhythms® on the Academic map and brings it to a wider audience, including those who will use it towards further research into its quantifiable and qualitative benefits. Lastly, we thank all the 5Rhythms® dancers whose words are at the core of the Chapter. Their voices, steps, and journeys towards embodied personal transformation echo throughout, naming the very essence of wellbeing:

“5Rhythms® allows me to meet myself physically where I am. I can move with the dynamic that best suits my physical body. I can play with the movement; luxuriate and sink into my lethargy or exhaustion, or I can expand it and speed it up, see what happens as my energy shifts to various parts of my anatomy. 5Rhythms® creates acceptance for how my body is right in this moment… to move the way the body wants to.”

The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Wellbeing can be purchased from the publisher, Oxford University Press here.

The Companion Website will have additional material including a video produced by Emma Roberts and the Paris 5Rhythms® Community.

From Amazon USA (remember that signing up for Amazon Smiles creates automatic donations for 5RRO if added as your Non-Profit of choice)

From Amazon UK (available as of October 1, 2017)




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