Out of Town

November 29, 2014

This blog consists of my own subjective experiences on the 5Rhythms® dancing path, and are not sanctioned by any 5Rhythms® organization or teacher.

I have been away from New York for a few days visiting my parents in northern Connecticut.  Since I couldn’t make it to Tammy’s class on Friday night, I decided to attend a dance event in Northampton, Massachusetts called Dance Spree, which I have attended perhaps nine or ten times now.  It is held in a lovely room—a spacious ballet studio on the fourth floor of a historic building, with a kinetic sprung wood floor.  The event begins rather late-at 8.30 PM-and continues until midnight.

I was one of the first dancers to arrive, and found my place on the dance floor, stretching and unfurling in the face of patient, tonal music.  Lately, to warm up, I find arc after arc, pulling my sides, drawing my leg around and down, and moving in attenuated circles on the floor.  Although no one there is thinking of the 5Rhythms, I found Flowing quickly and began to move with freedom and creativity.  Slowly, people began to arrive.  The last time I was at Dance Spree, I was a little disappointed that people seemed reluctant to interact.  This time, I found quite the opposite, but it didn’t seem like anyone was interested in interacting with me.  Instead, several couples peopled the dance floor, and seemed exclusive to their individual partners.

This irritated me.  I felt like they were performing, and were unwilling to move in the collective field.  I decided to dance with my own self in the mirror, and found inspiration there, though the couples kept encroaching.  I found I wanted to move just to get away from them. I even considered leaving early.  Slowly, the couples started to re-sort, and people began to dance with different partners.  My irritation shifted, though I still felt somewhat separate from the room.  I continued to move with freedom and creativity, experimenting with known forms and finding new forms as I worked with what came up.

For the most part, I liked what the DJ was playing, though I craved the compelling narrative of a 5Rhythms wave, and especially craved the intensity of fully-expressed Chaos.  If a song had even a lilting break-beat or a slight suggestion of Chaos, I released my head and body in spinning, rising and falling arcs since I didn’t know if another chance would arise to fully release myself..

Dancing to a song I found interesting, I began to experiment with awkward, sharp, inturned edges—the polar opposite to my dance recently, which is characterized by sweeping gestures, spinning, and rising and falling balances.  Another dancer, one of the hyper-coupled people I noted in the beginning, began to fall into my dance.

I turned to him, receptive, and we stepped into a closer dance.  We weaved and moved together for a few short moments, when he began to speak,

“Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you.  I won’t even move you against your will.  Only if you want to move,” he said.

This surprised me.  In a 5Rhythms room, there is no talking.  Maybe a whispered, “I miss you.” Or a quiet, “I loved your show,” but certainly not this level of communication.  In fact, it felt so incongruous to me that it was surreal, almost like I was tripping.  I could only murmur, “Hmmm” and nod.

We danced a little more and he continued, “It can just be like you are a tree.  You can just stand there and hold your space.  And I can move and even use you to move me.  Then, I can get quiet and you can move and I can be the tree.”

I experimented with these instructions, awkwardly.

He explained something about squiggly fingers, moving into the partner’s joints, and demonstrated, showing me something about finding U’s and V’s with one another’s bodies.  It seemed there was a lesson about receptivity, and at once a lesson about holding space.

“You can just be there, and hold that space,” he said, “you don’t have to be so wibbly wobbly.”

I felt no aversion to him, and was instead very interested in what he had to teach, though I felt a strong sense of my own limitations.  I thought of the sharp, handsome friend who I write about occasionally, who I can’t quite hang with, and who I can’t quite figure out how to interact with.

Occasionally, I have been breathed into the most exquisitely intimate partnerships, but I felt like this dancer opened a portal into one of the places I have yet to let go, yet to fall into, yet to discover, about interacting with the people around me.

“This is my job,” he said, “and now I have to stop teaching!”

I thanked him, and he thanked me, asking my name at once.  “In love and kindness,” he said, bowing, as he moved on, into another partnership.

I left before the event’s conclusion, around 11pm.  I had a solid dance, though there was nothing of catharsis, nothing of intensity. Instead, the sense impression I have of the night is of patient curiosity.  Maybe this new teaching, which came to me by way of a different field, will find its way into my practice in the coming weeks.  To be quite honest, I hope so.

Divination by Birds’ Flight

November 24, 2014

This blog consists of my own subjective experiences on the 5Rhythms® dancing path, and are not sanctioned by any 5Rhythms® organization or teacher.

One of my favorite things to dance to is the flight of pigeon flocks, especially as they are directed by a keeper from a rooftop. They arc and swoop in great, epic, collective gestures. My arms and body swoop and arc and spin as they do. Four years ago this month, I was teaching then-infant Simon to dance to the flights of birds just as I got a call letting me know that my friend, Howard, had died.

Recently, I have been wondering about something within my practice. How willing am I to fully take on the rhythms and to try on whatever instruction comes to me under this category? At what point does following the instructions become an orthodoxy, and hinder progress instead of supporting it? Is there a point that I should ignore the instructions and follow an inner guide? Likely, this is a shifting continuum that changes over time, but it is something I consider often. It makes sense to take intuition as a guide, but (un-enlightened as I am) I wonder if I mistake my own complex conditioning for intuition. I have no time to lose, after all, and I want to adopt the most productive mindset so I don’t waste too much of this short, precious life I’ve been blessed with.

I have been studying the history of western civilization lately, where the Ancient Romans have a big role. It seems, the Romans had many different ways of divining the future, including analyzing the flights of birds.

On Friday, I stepped into Tammy’s class feeling slightly unsettled, and, as often happens, was quickly folded into the room, forgetting my ill-ease. There is not a theme that dominates my memory, and there doesn’t appear to be one emerging here, but I noticed that nothing hurt, that I had a perfect amount of energy, and that I was neither holding back nor overexerting.

A neighbor asked Simon if he was good. Being four, he said, “No!” laughing as he said it. The neighbor said, “Well, what’s bad? If nothing’s bad, then you’re good, right? That’s how it works!”

In a dance of partnership, Tammy instructed us to investigate what feels like too close and what feels like too far. I fell into a friend who was the perfect ally in this investigation. He is sharp, confident, very handsome, unflinching. It makes me nervous to dance very close with him, yet I always want to engage him. Perhaps he is just matching me, but I perceive that he has an exceptional capacity for precision—many razor sharp edges that are not aggressive–but vivid, articulated and wild in the most cosmic sense possible. We stepped sharply in and out of each others’ fields, spinning and stopping, behind, beside, around—stretching the space between us, then snapping back together and rolling away from each other like two grooved cogs.

I also continued a dance begun during Tammy’s Faint of Heart workshop with a friend who witnessed me as I moved and who I witnessed as she moved through a body parts meditation. We fell forward and back, rotating up and down like coins spinning and slowing, coiled softly around one another’s spines, holding each other’s eyes by arching backward even as we spun all the way around.

Looking for answers from the sky, my eyes soar upward, into vast space, and I realize, once again, that I am but a tiny little piece of this vast, poetic dance, and that my own little dance is one of an infinite number who collaborate in creating the world, moment by moment, gesture by gesture.

Note: There is a post that precedes this one that has yet to be published.  It should be up within 2-3 days (once it is approved by everyone mentioned in it) and will shed additional light on some of the topics discussed in the current post.