When Bryan and I decided to go to Washington, DC this past Saturday, my #1 priority was to get to the National Gallery of Art to see Thomas Cole’s The Voyage of Life. It is the four-part series of paintings that inspired Jeanne Ruddy’s Out of the Mist, Above the Real, the dance piece I saw a few weeks ago. The piece moved me greatly, and how fortunate am I that a day trip to DC allowed me the opportunity to see the original artwork behind the choreography?

Once I got that off my chest, we moseyed around the museum and admired Manet, Monet, Renior, and Degas, among others, including a visually striking photography exhibit on the circa-1984 New York City subway. Although snaking through an art museum without a guidebook or plan of action makes me a bit discombobulated (I feel like I need a trail of breadcrumbs to remind me where I’ve been), the act of turning a corner and coming face to face with something surprising, stirring, or moving is what the museum experience is all about.

I hesitate to interrupt this artistic discussion with talk of food, but I feel it is my duty to share with everyone my love for the Mitsitam Cafe in the National Museum of the American Indian. If you need to break for lunch at one of the Smithsonian museums, this is the one to do so.

The food court is broken down into stations representing the various regions of the Americas and the foods indigenous to that culture: Northern Woodlands, Mesoamerica, South America, Northwest Coast, and Great Plains. You can mix and match food items, creating one melting pot of a meal. It reminds me of World Showcase in Epcot, but without the need to walk a mile in the central Florida sun to collect your global cuisine.

Our meal, clockwise from upper left: Indian fry bread; buffalo chili; cedar-plank fire-roasted salmon with wild berry glaze; pumpkin cookies; red beets, candied apples, toasted walnuts, cherry vinaigrette; braised chard; and quesadilla with chihualua cheese, spinach, mushroom, and huitlacoche.

So much tastier than chicken fingers and fries!

We did a lot of walking, probably close to a half marathon (13 miles) by the end of the day, including a ridiculously strenuous climb up a non-working escalator in the Woodley Park-Zoo Metro station as other (sane) people watched us from the functioning one. The ascent was steep and loooong; it looked like a fun challenge at first but then just got hard. We further punished ourselves by standing in a 20-minute line at the Zoo to see a panda bear that was dead asleep and then walking through every twist and turn of the Asia exhibit hoping to catch sight of the sloth bear that was nowhere to be found.

One thing I did find, though, was each of the 5Rhythms. Even when I’m trekking around the nation’s capital, my mind is never far from dancing and the rhythms that tie us all together. For example, I witnessed kites soaring high above the National Mall lawn (Flowing), a flock of Canada geese audibly pecking the grass under their webbed feet (Staccato), a group of hyper schoolchildren in matching T-shirts and hats scramble onto their tour bus (Chaos), a young girl in a cream-colored dress run with her same-colored dog up a grassy hill (Lyrical), and a group of veterans in wheelchairs being pushed slowly around the Vietnam Memorial (Stillness).

I think the practice of 5Rhythms, coupled with yoga and meditation, has helped sharpen my senses and my awareness of all the little dances taking place within the larger dance. When you look at a satellite map of a city, everything looks either gray, green, or blue. Look closer, and you see, hear, and feel the rhythms:

National Museum of the American Indian

Washington Monument

Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden

U.S. Capitol Building

Vietnam Memorial

A completed Wave:
Atrium, National Museum of the American Indian