Notes on Practice: Edges, Devotion & Drunken Sailors

July 21, 2014 - Meghan LeBorious


I did not dance for two consecutive Fridays; and was eager to get to dance on Friday night.  There was a tiny flavor of fear, too, after a few days away, that the magic would have disappeared and I wouldn’t be able to move at all.  I should not have worried, since I was swept away by the strength of the crowd shortly after I entered the room.

The first wave was delightful; and Tammy brought us together briefly before starting the second wave.  She shared that she had challenged herself to come up with something that she doesn’t like about 5Rhythms; and that the only things she could think of were easily dismissed as functions of her own ego.

Tammy also went through the litany of the Rhythms quickly, for the sake of new dancers: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness.   I felt a wave of emotion.  I have heard that very litany hundreds, if not thousands, of times now.  This has been my path.

Once, at a Buddhist training, a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition began talking about a file cabinet that contains all of his Buddhist certificates and training documents, “This has been my path,” he said, and he surprised himself, choking on one gasping sob.  “This has been my path.”  Tears poured down his cheeks as he was briefly overwhelmed with emotion.

I felt similarly in this moment.  The emotions I could identify were devotion, heartbreaking gratitude, a kind of wonder, and gigantic, pulsing tenderness.  There seemed to be enormous energy in my throat that would gather and release.  I cried periodically throughout the class; and rested my forehead to the floor after the conclusion of the final song and wept.

Before the second wave began, Tammy invited us to investigate balance through different parts of our bodies, starting with asking us to remain balanced on one foot for as long as possible, then to shift onto the other foot once the suspended foot chanced to touch the ground.  I was delighted, experimenting happily with the edges of balance, finding that I could go quite far from my center of gravity and still stay alight.

I remembered an exercise Tammy had led us in during a Waves level Shadow workshop several years before.  During an investigation of Chaos and its adjacent forces, Tammy had us move into the very edge of balance, and in fact tip past it (I believe she used the phrase “drunken sailor”) I was thrilled then, as I was on this occasion.  By way of aside, I note that I was six months pregnant at the workshop; and, unlike many pregnant women, I never fell or had any significant problems with balance during pregnancy.  I didn’t even move like a pregnant woman for that matter; and I attribute it to dancing hard all the way through.

I absolutely love exploring my edges, exploring boundaries, walking on the edge of a sharp blade.  I can be rebellious when subjected to conventions—sometimes even an intensity-junkie.  It is on that very edge—of moving, of relating, of creating—that things get most fertile.  The conventions that cause me to round things off, rather than perceive the pointed specificity of the spectacular phenomenal world, fall away.  Dazzling light spills all over the place.

As is so often the case, the experience of the dance itself becomes a metaphor that challenges and inspires me.  Within dance, every edge that I explore and identify shifts once again—leaving my heart more and more open to infinity—the ultimate unfathomable edge.




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