I just had a dance, and I feel so good. 30 minutes moving to a playlist I made back in Australia, pumping through my headphones, while around me the French countryside wakes up slowly. Those of you who know me in person know I love to dance; disco and funk tracks always get me going, and I still love going to music festivals to jump up and down at the front near the front to my favourite band…
But the private practice that keeps calling me, following me, leading me, is the 5Rhythms HERE. It’s a moving meditation, a spiritual practice, a stress release, an exploration of the wisdom and challenges held in the body, heart and mind… It’s hard to put into words exactly! But those are my words for it today.
Some people find peace in church. Others at the shopping mall, in the surf, during a meditation circle, listening to music, or making/enjoying art. Perhaps just with a good bottle of wine. All of them are valid of course, just not for me- my place is the dance floor, always has been.
In my worship, you dance to 5 different musical rhythms, a ‘Wave’: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, and Stillness, which creator Gabrielle Roth believed underpins every aspect of life itself (Link to her talk HERE).
I used to co-produce monthly workshops of it in Adelaide with dearest friend Kat (search Facebook for 5Rhythms Adelaide and go along- it rocks). I do it at home by myself every week, sometimes every day. I go once a month to the huge dances held in my local town, and we have some great teachers up North (search for 5Rhythms Byron Bay, Northern Rivers, Brisbane).
This morning was my first dance in France though. I’d looked for classes in London and Paris, but our travel timing wasn’t quite right. And this morning I woke up early, hearing the birds waking up too, and just thought ‘It’s Time.’
But it’s cold. And son ‘15’ was still asleep. So I grabbed my clothes and got dressed in bed: 5 layers, including two zip up jackets and a scarf. Added thick socks and gumboots before I stepped outside. Then wandered round the edges of the Barn looking for some flatish ground, privacy from the road and distant neighbours, and somewhere pretty too (because I’m a performing visual artist after all).
Near the washing line proved to be the optimum dance floor. I pressed Play. And at long last, the Dance began. Watched by hidden wildlife, fields of corn, 300 year-old rock walls, and a softly lightening sky, I danced.
Here is a snippet of my ‘Chaos’ dance, to French punk gypsy band ‘Leo’ (you will just have to imagine it’s playing really loud)
And after I’d danced, watching the many thoughts that came and went, I had to write about something that happened to me the other day here in the supermarket, about Death.
Again, those of you who know me personally know I struggled a lot when my dear Dad died in 2008. I blogged about it at Reading Dad’s Journals HERE for a long time. Two days ago I bumped into Englishwoman ‘A’ who my Aunt had introduced me to recently. She suddenly said, standing behind me at the checkout, both of us enjoying a chat in a familiar language, that she’d looked at the wide group photo taken at her 50th the day before (she’s now 63), and apart from she and her husband, everyone else is now dead. Completely dead. The only 2 survivors out of a group of almost 20. She was clearly struggling to take it in, and so was I. That’s a lot of deadness, while waiting to pay for milk, cheese, and yoghurt.
This morning as I danced, enjoying my body’s strength and flexibility, I thought about being 50 next year. And all the dear friends and family I hope will be photographed with me… Then I shivered. And I thought about the mid-life crisis that comes when we’re 40, or 50… When affairs begin, marriages end, red sports cars get bought, or plastic surgery is endured. Is it motivated by fear of death? Or a sudden lust for life? Both?
On October 22, the creator of 5Rhythms Gabrielle Roth will have been dead for 3 years. She asked her global dance community to dance for her then as she moved towards the final ‘Stillness’. I danced; we all danced. I danced in my living room in Adelaide, with my stereo turned up as loud as possible. I danced in the garden too, earphones in, mobile phone in hand, just like this morning. When the announcement had come that she’d finally left us, I’d gone out to the back lawn, barefoot and solemn, dancing and crying, thinking about the great teacher who’d passed away…
Then, mid-dance, I fell over. Actually, I felt like I was pushed. I landed hard on my arse, like a toddler, and laughed with surprise. Then laughed some more. I felt as though my serious, reverent mood, honouring the 5Rhythms Matriarch, had been rejected by her, in favour of a more authentic, more wholistic and well-rounded dance? It’s hard to convey. But then I smiled and danced with my tears, feeling my heart widening to Glee as well as Grief, to Love as well as Loss, to Beginnings as well as Endings, to Hope as well as Defeat, to Dance as well as Stillness.
It was exquisite. Sometimes that experience re-visits me, and it’s ecstatic. I felt it this morning, just for a second or three, spreading my arms wide under the French morning sky, knowing my dancing tribe in Australia was dancing last night, and that my American dancing tribe is yet to dance. I can feel the connection, and it fills me up.
So at my 50th, there will be dancing. There will be a group photo, and there will be a lot of Love. And then what unfolds will do so… I am neither afraid of Death, nor lusting foolishly for Life (although a red Mini Cooper would be a great birthday present for me, if anyone feels so inclined to organize it…?). I love the Life I have, that I’ve created. I love the possibilities that still surprise me, and the courage with which I greet them (usually, unless I’m super tired or hungry, then I’m crap cos it’s all too much).
Thankyou to the Dance, which moves my heart, body and spirit; to Gabrielle, the Raven, for articulating and sharing the 5Rhythms, and to the teachers who continue her work.
Thankyou to the friends, family and lovers who support and cherish me.
Thankyou to my son, who deals with my passion and stubbornness in equal measure.
Thankyou to the Earth, who holds me, feeds me, nurtures me.
And Thankyou to YOU, for reading my Blog, and for persevering to the end of almost 1200 words today! Xxx