I really surprised myself last weekend. I left the house rather reluctantly on Sunday for a 3-hour 5Rhythms workshop; despite being told last month that Staccato–the focus of the class–was my dominant rhythm, I entered the space with a rather ho-hum attitude.

I even had a pep talk with myself right before class, strolling along the grounds outside and telling myself to go in there and dance. Just dance!, I urged myself. Stop thinking so much about the people, the music, these other extraneous factors.

Maybe the talk helped. Or maybe it was the way I started class, lying on my back, staring up at the vaulted wooden ceiling, struck by how much it resembled the ceiling in the Main Hall at Kripalu, the place in which I told myself just to “Remember.” With that mantra and memory in the forefront of my mind, I was encouraged to dance how I danced at Kripalu–no fear, no inhibition, no holds barred.

What happened was that I had one of the BEST 5Rhythms experiences ever. Seriously, even today, 6 days after the fact, I am still daydreaming back to those 3 hours on the dance floor.

Our space.

Here are some of the highlights, by rhythm:

Flowing

I partnered up with a woman with a grand smile and big, inquisitive eyes. We exchanged names. As the music started, she stood in place, hands pressed together in anjali mudra, acknowledging me by touching her hands to her forehead, her heart. For the most part, I stood in place as well, flowing in and out like a spider plant in a breeze. The music swelled, my partner’s eyes widened, and she said “Woah…,” and then I felt it too: a sudden ball of energy between us. We glided back and forth, eyes connected, a curious connection holding us together. The song was short but the dance was glorious, and when we drifted apart my partner looked blown away by something I could not see, maybe an aura or energy field. She confided that she needed a break after that and stepped aside to regroup.

Later, I found out that this was the song we found so magnetic. It’s always best to learn that you’re dancing to a generic British boy band AFTER the fact.

Staccato

For an exercise in this rhythm, we paired up and were instructed to execute three sharp movements for our partner while they stood still. Then the partner reciprocated with his own three movements: BOOM BOOM BOOM. POW POW POW. We did this exchange for a while and then gradually melded it into one dance, so we were no longer pausing: BOOM POW BOOM POW BOOM POW. I was paired with a man relatively new to me, but we got in each others’ faces like thugs in a love/hate relationship. It was during this time I remembered that yes, I really do think Staccato is my favorite rhythm!

Later, our instruction for Staccato was to focus on our feet. For the most part, my partner was confined to the floor, giving his bum knee some rest. Still, we made the dance happen. Even with one person sitting, it is possible to stomp, shuffle, flick the toes, and engage in a give-and-take of ankles, toes, and arches.

Chaos

Sometimes in Chaos I am all over the place, running in circles, leaping, whipping through the room. This time my Chaos was mostly in place, a head-to-toe vibration that had me shaking and gyrating, lost in time and space with my eyes closed. I became so lost in movement that I had no idea of where I was in space; I thought I was facing the front of the room, but when I opened my eyes I was standing somewhere completely different. Woah.

Lyrical

The lyrical dance I shared with my partner was perhaps one of the most passionate, present pas de deuxs I’ve ever had in 5Rhythms. The song was Fiona Apple’s “Slow Like Honey,” and there was twirling, slithering, crawling, clawing, and grasping. At one point, my feet nearly left the ground, clinging onto my partner’s shirt as he spun me around and around. It was a big moment for me, because I tend to build these walls around me, and I don’t allow many people to get my full attention via dance. So it was an accomplishment for me but also a reminder that I am not a contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and my body cannot always move the way I want it to. And that is perhaps why my hip hurt for the whole drive home and I needed to return to the post-activity Advil for the first time in a while.

Stillness

Ever since starting tai chi classes 3 weeks ago, Stillness is becoming a more intense rhythm for me to work with. We “hold the ball” a lot in tai chi, and I’ve begun incorporating that into my dancing, just the notion of harnessing prana/chi/qi and being aware of the subtle flow of energy throughout the body. More and more, I find myself ending a 5Rhythms class standing, rather than lying on the floor in savasana. I find that by the end of class I feel very grounded, and I like ending my session with my feet firmly rooted, a final sinking in.


What kind of mover do you consider yourself: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, or Stillness?
I’ve always thought of myself as Flowing, but there is significant Staccato influence in my movement. I love to go back and forth between balletic and B-Boy-esque.

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