Lorca Simons, Notes from the theatre wing: Using the Rhythms in the Exploration of a Character
“I believe in the healing power of theatre. I believe in a theatre of heart, one that feeds and fuels the soul. A theatre that brings change, mirroring landscapes lost or left behind, one that exposes life from the deepest core of my being. One that expands imagination through curiosity, breath, physical gesture, and space. From this place of truth, ritual springs into authentic action and anything is possible.”
Warren Summers, Spirit Danced My Body, Spoken Word
“Spirit danced past my body, My body danced past your heart, Your heart danced past my future, And my future danced past my past
My past danced through the
ancestors, The ancestors dance through the
breath, This breath dances with the seekers, with the lovers, with the dreamers....And the seeking is dancing with death.”
Anja Mutic, Ever the Nomad: The Surprise of the 5Rhythms
Brooklyn, NY, USA & Zagreb, Croatia
“For two entire hours, I dance. And I travel, from country to continent, from city to hamlet. A journey with no map, no itinerary and no destination. Despite the random wanderings of my body, the rhythm roots it into this very moment. There is no other place I’d rather be. There is no place I want to go. My wanderlust, quenched.”
Anne Marie Hogya, 5Rhythms in The Workplace: Exploring Movement as a Corporate Training Approach, BSc (Occupational Therapy), MA (Leadership)
Occupational Therapist and 5Rhythms Teacher
Victoria, BC, Canada
“My experience is that to increase the speed and the impact of transformational learning we need to pull the knowledge into the body and lock it in at a cellular level while at the same time taking in information at a visual and auditory level. My belief is that the 5Rhythms is a tool for this type of transformational learning in the workplace.”
Elaine Gale, Confessions of a Free-Range Spiritualist: Dancing For My Life
“I'm not a yoga person or a skinny mini or even that in shape. I don't have a guru, or mala beads or a zafu. I'm not poly or experimental, I don't have a tantra fingernail. I'm basically a repressed sixth-generation Nebraskan with a doctorate and a tenured professor job. But I love transformational practices, I love my body, love to dance, love to feel and to connect with people. This practice brought me back into my body and into my spirit. It's the closest practice I have ever seen to straight-up shamanism, to taking iawasca, or communing directly with the divine. ”
Chantey Dayal, 5Rhythms dance & Letting go to process
Vancouver Island, Canada
“I love to dance the 5Rhythms… it gets me out of my own way. It only asks me to show up and in return, holds me in letting go. Dancing allows me into an artistic process without attachment to outcome. This leads to strokes, tones, and feelings pouring out onto the canvas like the journey of a song. It opens my hands up to possibility and investigation. 5Rhythms is a gateway that allows me to paint boldly on the canvas and to discover all the living parts of my creative self.”
Pharaoh K Embodiment Gabrielle Roth Mix
DJ / Producer
“I had just finished composing my track 'Embodiment' when I realised that it was missing something. I had already decided on the name of the track, so I typed 'Embodiment' into YouTube and the first thing that came up was an amazing interview with the late Gabrielle Roth, where she spoke about the experience of losing yourself in music and allowing your body to move in its own natural way. I really resonated with her words and as if by fate, they fitted so well with my song, so I had to put it in!”
Helena Kallner, Dancing Dialogue: 5Rhythms & Gestalt Therapy
“I believe that movement is our first language, and that movement is our primary support for all contacting. The Rhythms offers me a vocabulary within this language, that helps me to listen, sense, feel, explore, communicate and express myself in relation to others, myself and all that is around me. Through the Rhythms I have also found a community, a worldwide family of dancers. For all this I am always and ever grateful.”
Eliezer Sobel, My Adventures with an Urban Shaman
Eliezer's business card simply says 'Human Being,' but his wife insists he only works part-time.
New York, USA
“I have literally been around the world meeting gurus and teachers, shamans and supposed messiahs and avatars, and yet Gabrielle was the only one who let me into her apartment still in her pajamas. Meaning, she was the only one that let me in, period.”
Eleonora Valle, 5Rhythms poetry
Art Director & Graphic Designer
“I love to laugh, dance, embody the movement, contemplate nature, travel the world to explore places with different stories and cultures. Fueled by my passion, energy and curiosity.”
Nilaya Sabnis, Photographer+Dancer
New York, NY
“It's exhilarating, like being on a rollercoaster with your eyes closed. At some point you get to just stand back and be fascinated by your own dance coming out of you.”
Music & Movement Therapist / Drummer
“After the workshop, I feel my body is quiet, my mind is clean and clear.
I have an inner space that helps me cope with life, in a different way.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina
“5Rhythms is a place to express my craziness, my wildness, my sadness ...a place where I could be myself, and that made more confident in life.”
Prateeksha Katarina Thundal
5Rhythms Dance Teacher / Massage Therapist / Personal Trainer
“After a 5Rhythms class I feel so relaxed, more open, happy, full of aliveness, I feel more power.”
Mme Patricia PAREJA
Psychotherapist / Yoga Teacher
Saint Omer, France
“I'm blind. I have long aspired to dance. 5Rhythms is receiving the right to express myself through my body movement.”
“It's teaching me where all the barriers are that I build against my heart ...because on the dance floor they all seem to fall away.”
Moven, even with a broken arm
San Jose, CA
“I love to move and I love to meditate. I love that there is no right or wrong, just let go and go with the music.”
Portland, OR USA
“I used the process to get me through cancer, to write and to know that life shifts.”
Burnaby, BC Canada
“I feel like this is where I belong. For me, dance is spirituality, it's worship, prayer and meditation.”
Pieter Van Winkle
Writer / Naturalist
Durango, CO, USA
“Nothing in my life has done more to bring alive my sense of my own voice, my sense of my own power, my physicality, my trust in myself, my own, expressive potential...it touches everything.”
Practice Manager & MA
“I work for a doctor and she prescribes it to her patients...It has given me the strength to move forward in my life and a whole new community that is open, accepting and fun!”
“It is a great map for living my life. Going with the flow till you find something you love, working hard at it, releasing it in the world knowing it is meant to be, enjoying the joy, peace and tranquility that follows.”
Jean Claude Dufourd
“No more high blood pressure, cholesterol or weight problem. Much less back pain. A lot happier and in excellent physical shape. And for the first time in my life, proud of something having to do with my body—my dance.”
Cook & Writer
“The first words I heard on my first 5Rhythms dance floor were 'Welcome' and 'Don't Give Up'. I'd been waiting a long time to receive those words in my body.”
Music Artist / Technologist
New York, NY USA
“More than almost any other spiritual practice, it's been the deepest reminder of who I truly am and my power. Not to mention how much FUN it can be to come alive.”
Self Employed Caterer
“It's an incredible practice that goes deeper than just the dance on the night. It's a journey that stays with you forever in subtle and life changing ways.”
New York, NY USA
“This practice has changed my life that I often remember the first time I walked into your class. This powerful medicine has healed so many wounds since then. This dance has taught me how to listen to my body and understand what its saying on a cellular level. The permission our dance floor offers has freed places that I didn't know existed and shone light. What a sweet seduction...how could I not keep coming back?!”
Miami, FL, USA
“Many of us live in little boxes. 5 Rhythms takes you out of that box. Its like coloring outside the lines. We should all try it. Especially if you're the kind that doesn't color outside the lines.”
Notes on Practice: A Blog About My Experiences on the 5Rhythms Dancing Path by Meghan LeBorious
These are only available in English
Notes On Practice | Grass Roots
“Yeeaaah, definitely heel spurs. Both feet. See?” The doctor points at a section in the middle of my right foot on the x-ray that really should be shadowy black, but instead shows white, almost as dense as nearby bones.
As early as February, when I participated in the five-day heartbeat workshop “Anatomy of Emotions,” pain in my feet has been excruciating. They kept getting worse and worse, but I told myself I would only have to tolerate it until I finally manage to become enlightened, at which point pain would have much less influence on me. Just keep practicing, I told myself. If I practice with devotion, if I am relentless in interrogating the stories that limit me, and if I stay connected to raw, unfiltered presence, things will shift radically and this foot pain won’t be such a big deal. Some days, I winced through every step, but still managed to find freedom and inspiration. I even saw the pain as helpful, in that it brought me right into my feet and into the body.
After the “Elemental” workshop in April, my feet got still worse.
Notes on Practice: Alive! Alive! Alive!
Though the day was chilly, things are finally starting to bloom after the long, grueling winter, and magnolia, dogwood, and flowering pear trees are heavy with blossoms all over the city. Yesterday my eight-year-old son, Simon, and I took a leisurely bike ride, wandering aimlessly around our neighborhood and noticing the explosion of life all around us. Eager to express the season, I was exactly on time to the Sweat Your Prayers session at the Joffrey in the West Village this morning, led today by Jilsarah Moscowitz.
I started in a squat, deep in the hips, stretching the inner thighs, feet and calves, rotating and staying low. I soon found my way to the ground, where I continued to stretch and coil, rolling over the fronts of my shoulders, the back of my head, and through the hips, moving from my stomach to my back over and over in a wide circle.
Notes on Practice: The Last Dance
“Dance like this is your last dance,” Ray Diaz, who is teaching this morning’s Sweat Your Prayers class at the Joffrey in the West Village, tells us. “Because you never know when that last dance could be.”
Stepping in to the studio, the room is very full. People are sprawled all over the floor, beginning to stretch and unfurl. A little current of wind turns me right away, and I rise and fall, one hand touching ground the other reaching to sky, my shoulder rolling open and turning me in the opposite direction – big, weighted circles on the ground’s plane and on every diagonal, my head blissfully released.
Ray encourages us to move slowly and softly, and to begin to “fill up the inner reservoir.” I find a spot near the middle of the room and stretch to my full length, rolling over the back of my head, stretching my hips, leg muscles, pressing my chest down to stretch the front of my shoulder. Before long I am on my knees, with a raised leg that crosses behind me and drags me into a spin, sinking to the ground again, coming up onto my shoulder blade and using its momentum to pull back up into my hip and raise my heel high up behind me, undulating back again, and beginning to move toward rising.
Before class, I filled myself with inspiration. I listened to a Buddhist talk on stillness, that included the idea that although the positive behaviors and habits we cultivate are an important part of the path, ultimately, even these are a mask, and if we are to fully wake up, we have to let go of even these positive stories that we tell ourselves. In the morning also, I read some selected excerpts on Dzogchen, a spiritual system that emphasizes opening to bare, naked, luminous, absolute reality, on the spot. Here. Now.
Notes on Practice: Journey into Trance
“Moving with the spirit has taught me all I know.” -Gabrielle Roth
I didn’t have much time to contemplate what I might experience when I signed up for “Journey into Trance,” a two-day workshop with Jonathan Horan, who is both an experienced 5Rhythms teacher and the current holder of the entire 5Rhythms lineage. Stepping out of the elevator onto the 5th floor at the Joffrey in the West Village, I happily greeted many friends and prepared to step in to the studio, bringing many ongoing narratives into the room with me. Right before I entered, I ran across Jonathan and embraced him in greeting. Immediately after, I wished I had been more discreet, thinking that he probably has people coming at him from all sides, and may not have actually wanted to be hugged. I let that go and moved across the threshold of the studio, feeling a knot of emotion in my throat, along with a rush of gratitude.
Notes on Practice: Natural Disasters, Friendly Animals & the Need for Warriorship
My close world is torn apart with natural disasters – hurricanes in Texas, and in Florida & the Caribbean, earthquake in Mexico – at the same time, it is a spectacular day in New York. Temperatures in the 70’s, low humidity, blue skies with the kinds of clouds that are easy to see as friendly animals or as elaborate castles. In the Sunday morning Sweat Your Prayers class at the Joffrey Ballet in the West Village, taught today by Jason Goodman, I held both realities.
I have been teaching high school students for the past few years and the beginning of the year makes me feel joyful. Meeting new students, I can’t wait to find out what they can do. I’m twittery, imaging all the great structures we will co-create, thinking about how to set things up for them, reviewing my inspiring speeches and clear explanations. Imagining all of us having fun together at the first dance. Having done this for a few years, I also know how much I will come to love them by the end of the year; and I can feel it already. I’m choked up in advance just thinking about it, even as I write.
At the same time, sadness and fear visit me. People all over are suffering terribly, in particular as a result of the hurricanes and earthquake. I keep feeling wracked by sadness. And I am afraid. As of late, the Christian concept of apocalypse no longer seems as far-fetched as I once believed. As a human community, we really don’t seem to be moving in a good direction.
There was a time when I wouldn’t have let myself have access to joy in the face of this suffering. I would have thought that feeling joy would be an affront to others’ pain. Now, I feel differently, though. I realize that if I am suffering too, I haven’t actually helped anyone. There are just more of us suffering.
Stepping in to the fourth floor dance studio, movement nuzzled me from all sides and I felt free and inspired. I delighted in the clear blue sky pouring in the windows, smiled to greet many friends, and found myself a spot on the floor. There, I moved in big, arcing circles, attenuating my body in long gestures to stretch at the same time, pulling my feet up to warm up my quadriceps along the floor, rolling over my shoulders and over the crown of my head.
I wore wide-legged pants with a tucked-in tank top, which allowed me a full range of motion, and that I exploited with every angle, level and gesture. Lately, I have a good relationship with Staccato, and I sunk deep into my hips, playing with rocking my pelvis and taking big backsteps – at times holding my leg up and rocking my knee forward and back before placing my foot emphatically on the floor, garnering tremendous momentum and force in the process. Jason spoke of the need for Staccato, sometimes for ferocious and sudden action, since staying in Flowing all of the time would, at minimum, mean we might get nothing done; and at maximum, might mean we fail to act to save our own life or the lives of the people we love. Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of a patient warm-up, instead when the situation calls for it, we have to step into Staccato instantly, as warriors, with all of the power and force that is required of us.
We seemed to spend more time in Chaos than in any other rhythm today. Jason spoke directly of the devastating hurricanes and earthquake; and also reflected on the tragedy of September 11th, 2001, which he, like me, personally witnessed. I recalled a class Jason taught in the same room just three days after the election of Donald Trump, when he also kept us in Chaos for song after song after song. I reflected on the words of my yoga teacher, Maria Cutrona, in the days after the election, “As painful as this may be, as hard as it may be to take, this is exactly what we have been practicing for over all of these years. This is it. Right now.”
The ultimate test of our practice is to keep moving even inside a swirling maelstrom of Chaos. To find a way to ride the Chaos so it doesn’t destroy us. As the rhythm of Chaos unfolded, I was often low, finding a growling thread of Staccato, realizing the need for action. Deep in my knees and hips, I held my arms cactus-like and rocked and cracked into my upper spine at great velocity. I joined two friends, including the very woman who brought me to a 5Rhythms class for the first time over ten years ago, and we leapt and twisted and spun, inspiring me into a whole new set of gestures and ways of working with weight and extension, every minute muscle of my feet steering me into unending expression. I moved around the room and joined with several others in sequence, including with a man I hadn’t seen before whose lyrical expression of Chaos softened me into joy.
This school year, I will be teaching mindfulness & meditation to nearly my entire school community, going into many different classrooms for 20 minutes each week. I thought about how I would introduce the work. “Dear Ones, this world is crazy,” I rehearsed in my head, “We have hurricanes, earthquakes, racism. Donald Trump. There is pretty much nothing in the external world around us that we can count on. Even if you are lucky enough to have a safe home, enough money, classrooms where you feel respected and valued. Even if you have all that stuff, at some point, you, too, are going to feel like the world is crazy. Because that’s what the world does. It’s always changing and throwing new stuff at us. Since the external world is so crazy and is constantly shifting and changing, we can’t rely on it for our sense of peace and safety. Our only hope is to develop our internal world, what’s inside, so that we have at least one place of refuge we can count on, that’s always available to us, regardless of our shifting circumstances.”
In the second wave, I grew slightly distracted as a result of rehearsing my speech in my head. I forced myself to return attention to my feet, telling myself my speech would all still be there later on, after it was no longer time to practice; and I moved around the room in Flowing. I met the blue-green eyes of a woman who was close to my own diminutive height and felt flooded with sadness, receiving, feeling the emotions around me. I noted that I had hunger pangs and put my hand to my lower stomach. My energy dipped slightly. Playful regardless, I knelt with my forehead down next to two friends who were back to back, and they inched their feet apart, delighting me by making a little bridge for me to crawl under. I squirmed to the other side of them, then pushed hard on the ball of my right foot, leaping high into the air and curving into emphatic motion like a cartoon wizard casting a lightning spell.
I had another wind during the closing gestures of the class. In Lyrical, I, like many others, swooped throughout the room, joining other dancers in brief partnerships. In Stillness, I keyed into tiny articulations of my coccyx and lower spine, closing my eyes and feeling the movement of energy throughout my body, moving my hands in space as these quiet modulations swept to my edges. Jason gathered us into a big circle where we continued to move in Stillness, ending at last with several deep, collective breaths.
At the end of the class, I chatted for a moment with an effusive, beaming first-time 5Rhythms dancer who I had helped to greet. Then, I spoke with a friend who had seemed interior during the class, and learned that many of her family members live in the southern part of Florida, where they were being pummeled by Hurricane Irma even as we spoke, her eyes pinched in pain, her shoulders raised, her tone incredulous.
September 10, 2017, Brooklyn, NYC
( First image: of St. Thomas after Hurricane Irma from nydailynews.com. Second image: nbcnews.com of Florida during Irma)
Notes on Practice: Flying in Formation
At Riis Park, the solitary birds are my first dance partners this morning. Before long, however, I join with an entire flock, soaring as they soar, holding my arms out wide, twisting in an arc as they move to the farthest edge of an orbit, sinking deep and looping one arm through the other as they change sides, rising suddenly and falling back into my edge, my feet grinding circles in the cold winter sand, covering vast distances on the deserted beach. Seeking solace and insight in these deeply troubling times, I planned this artwork performance—a ritual, of sorts—hoping to find some clues to show me the way forward.
Another place I go to seek solace and insight are 5Rhythms classes and workshops. Created by Gabrielle Roth in the 1980’s, 5Rhythms is a dance and movement meditation practice that embodies Gabrielle’s vision, “A body in motion will heal itself.” The five rhythms are Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness. Each rhythm has its own character, which becomes territory for endless experiments. To dance a wave is to pass through each of the 5Rhythms in sequence. In a typical two-hour class, we move through two waves. On first glance, a 5Rhythms room would probably just look like a wild dance club, but for most people it is also much more. For me, it is laboratory for life, encompassing psychological, emotional, philosophical, interpersonal and shamanic levels.
At a 5Rhythms class just a few days before the performance at Riis Park, 5Rhythms teacher Tammy Burstein says, “We don’t have to just be at a loss, because we have a map,” remarking that many people seem to be stepping into the class “still carrying a lot.” In having a map, we have the comfort of knowing that we have a way forward that doesn’t rely solely on our own initiative or motivation. This is particularly useful when we feel stuck or overwhelmed, as many, including myself, have felt for the last several months.
Waiting in line for the bathroom before class, a woman I had shared a dance with the week before says, “I love your dance. It is like you are always weaving, somehow.” I think she is talking about the way I move through the room, sharing dances, winding gestures inside the empty spaces, and following the currents caused by the many moving bodies. I introduce myself and smile, thanking her for the compliment and for the feedback.
Notes on Practice: Love Letter to Flowing
“The Earth is above you, below you, all around you and even inside you. The Earth is everywhere. You may be used to thinking of the Earth as only the ground beneath your feet. But the water, the sea, the sky, and everything around us comes from the Earth.” –Thich Nhat Hanh, “Love Letter to the Earth”
I have always loved benignly notable weather events. I love the slower pace, I love that the collective experience of the weather dominates all of our minds, and that our push toward individual achievement fades—if briefly—to the background. The unexpected accumulation of five or six inches of snow in the past two days is a delightful surprise. Yesterday, my six-year-old son, Simon, and I went sledding in Fort Greene Park despite very cold temperatures, then returned to the warm house and sat on the couch together, each reading independently, our giant, fluffy cat purring and rubbing her head on us affectionately.