‘For the love of the dance…
Its ability to turn our suffering into art
Its power to connect us more deeply to our truth
Its vastness that holds the spectrum of humanity from grief to ecstasy.
5 Rhythms is a philosophy, perspective, performance art and a dynamic movement practice rooted in the principle that if you put the psyche in motion it will heal itself.’
The above is the You Tube text accompanying this short showcase film. Tomorrow, we will post an article about Gabrielle Roth, who founded the 5 Rhythms movement (and who died a couple of years ago), so this is by way of introduction and taster for those who are not familiar with her work, or with conscious dance as a modality.
The writer is a therapist who does a lot of conscious dance, as part of her own process work. People outside the dance world often comment on the exercise aspect. That is obviously one facet, and yet in many ways the least of it. Dance of this nature inevitably calls us into our bodies and to our breath, just as mindfulness/meditative practices do. Conscious dance invites us to bring our attention to our own being-in-the-moment, into embodied and holistic presence with whatever is arising for us, our organismic experiencing in person-centred terms – with the added dimension of being able to move this through with immediacy, literally and figuratively. The writer thinks of her dance practice as movement meditation, and is continually awed by the possibilities it offers. She did a lot of her own trauma work on the dance floor.
Both as therapist and dancer, the writer notices the extent to which embodied experience is the gateway to therapeutic work. That is so often in play in the counselling room – the therapist’s invitation to drop into physical experiencing, out of the disembodied head space we favour in this culture: ‘I notice you’re moving around a lot in the chair as you say that, and I’m wondering what you are experiencing in your body?’. Time and again, in the crucible of trust and safety created through the core conditions – empathy, acceptance, authenticity, loving presence – this invitation supports the other person in connecting with sensation, which tends to bring up feeling, which begins to join us up again with our whole being and our organismic experiencing, and allows us to re-experience (and ultimately re-symbolize) much that we have denied and distorted.
The writer thinks of the conscious dance tribes – 5 Rhythms, Movement Medicine, Soul Motion and so forth – as person-centred in dance form. She has a sense that these practices are inherently more powerful than talking alone (for those who feel able and willing to engage with movement), because it is much less possible to stay in the head, and it is the dropping down into physical being that enables so much else. Just as in person-centred therapy, it is the relationship that is the therapy, so Movement Medicine teachers will tell you that the movement is the medicine… And there is relationship and community too – the writer experiences a huge sense of safety in her regular closed dance group, and a consistent offering of the core conditions by teacher and fellow dancers alike. So she is safely held, both in relationship and in movement. As in meditative practice, there is nowhere to go, nothing to do – simply the same invitation as in the therapy room to be present with our own being, to be witnessed, received and welcomed, and to witness, receive and welcome ourselves, just as we are. And then magic happens.
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter
Counselling in Exeter since 1994