August 3, 2014 - Meghan LeBorious
Taught by teacher-trainee Alex de Willermin, the second meeting of the Family Waves class—the first 5Rhythms class in New York City to include both kids and adults—took the sea as its theme.
Alex coordinated an installation with various objects that reference the ocean; and started the class with a physical demonstration of an ocean wave. She held her arms in a wide wingspan, then swept to the farthest corner of the gathered circle, starting low—just like a wave gathering itself and traveling along far out at sea—then drawing itself up into a form, then crashing, then taking a little rest by the shore before it is drawn back to the sea again. She explained that we would do the same thing in the class, except we would be dancing a wave.
She also took a few moments to set some ground rules about safety and personal space—especially relevant for my son, Simon, and his small friend, who continued in this class (please see the post from July 29, 2014) to do sprinting laps around the perimeter of the dance floor.
I was delighted that Simon’s father—who was my partner for eight years—joined us. It might be interesting to note that when we were together, I had fervently wished that he would do a 5Rhythms class with me. He was not even slightly receptive; and I came to imagine that if he would just step into the rhythms, we could work out our many ongoing conflicts and find the shining love that brought us together initially. I let go of that fantasy long ago, and was delighted to connect with him, remembering even the tenderness and wild attraction that characterized our first years together.
He came on this occasion because his brother was visiting from Charlotte with his teenage children. His brother had agreed to attend the class as a way for us get together during their brief local visit. He was accompanied by three of his kids and another nephew—all verging on adults now; and I greeted them happily as they entered.
We commenced in a circle, holding hands, which I suspect was a strategy to pause the sprinting laps around the perimeter, while Alex gave initial instructions. She did something a few times that I thought was very effective and that you don’t often see in adult classes, which was to turn off the music briefly while giving us instructions.
I confess that I was still (as I discussed in the last post about Family Waves on July 29) slightly pre-occupied with Simon’s sprinting laps and wishing he would engage more with the people in the room. Despite this, I was able to move fluidly and joyfully. I note that he was less of a maniac this class than in the last one; and I praised him at length after the class was over for this seeming improvement.
I was overjoyed to dance with a new friend who came with her baby son, numerous good friends, my niece, nephews, brother-in-law and, of course, with my former partner. I had several interesting side-by-side dances with my brother-in-law, when he moved with precise, conscious movements, seeming to go deep within. At one point, Alex had us form a circle and take turns dancing in the middle in groups of four. Some were hesitant, but most warmed up to the idea before long.
Alex ended the class with the Elizabeth Mitchell version of the song, “Peace Like a River.” I let myself fall into a spin–my favorite place. Simon approached me and I slowed slightly, scooping him up, then holding him loosely as I continued to spin and spin, smiling and laughing, as I had done during pregnancy and throughout his infancy and now-passed babyhood.
Simon and I danced all the rest of the day. In the evening he told me, “There is a song singing in my head,” He sang it and it was, “I’ve got peace like a river in my soul. I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river in my soul. I’ve got joy like an ocean in my soul. I’ve got joy like an ocean, I’ve got joy like an ocean, I’ve got joy like an ocean in my soul.”
I put the song on; and we continued to dance, delighting each other with new movement experiments and reflecting on how much fun we had, dancing with our friends.
Family Waves is New York City’s first 5Rhythms class for both children and adults. It meets the first Saturday of every month at 11 AM at White Wave Dance Studio in Dumbo, Brooklyn. The class is taught by rotating 5Rhythms teachers and teachers-in-training.