5Rhythms & Flow

Posted by  GeoffBrown —October 17, 2011
Filed in Being Present, Creative Stuff, Facilitation, Yes!And Improv

Last Tuesday night I went dancing! Not to a nightclub and not to a structured form of dance like Flamenco, Ballroom or Swing. It was a practice of dance known as The 5Rhythms. The classes have a host/facilitator to hold the space and invite participants to move, play and interact. In my case, the facilitator is a long time friend of mine, David Jurianz.

Whilst I am intensely interested in the application of improv, movement and music to my facilitation work, I didn’t attend this workshop to figure out some magical formulae of how I can “apply it”. I showed up to have some fun and learn something about myself. Simply letting-go and noticing what my body has to offer is a beautiful zone. But, my inner voice (the ego, self 1, whatever …) was loud at times, telling me that I couldn’t dance and questioning whether I was ‘doing it’ right. How much better life would be if we could learn to trust our body, our gut, heart and instinct … rather than the judging, rational self.

So here’s more of what I experienced …

Picture this, you walk into a very large (and beautiful) hall. People begin to drift in and some are talking, but most are stretching and moving around the space on their own. Then within minutes, you look up from your own stretching and the place is nearly full. The music starts – almost nightclub volume but the choice of music is both intriguing and catchy. David, looking like a DJ behind a music desk, encouraged us to move, dance and use the space however we like. Then the session really begins.

So far so good. Like I said above, I admit to feeling nervous and at times a bit awkward with my own movement. “Am I doing it right?” I heard myself saying. Soon after some calming words from David (things like), “There is no right or wrong … go at your own pace … move how you feel and stay open to change … know that everything alive has a dance, and your only task is to find and express yourself. And remember, excessive seriousness may slow you down!”

And now quoting from the session handout I picked up at the front door …

The 5Rhythms comprise a simple movement practice designed to release the dancer that ;lives in every body, no matter its shape, size, age, limitations and experience. To find your dance is to find yourself at you at your most fluid and creative level.

The five rhythms are: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness. They come together to create the Wave, a movement meditation practice. Rather than having steps to follow, each rhythm is a different  energy field in which you find your own expression and choreography, thereby stretching you imagination as well as your body. Each rhythm is a teacher and you can expect to meet different and sometimes unknown aspects of yourself as your dance unfolds and your practice of the rhythms deepens over time.

In sum … I had a great night! I felt physical worked and realised how fit dancers are. As I walked away, I also felt a ‘lightness’ and a fluidity that I didn’t have when I arrived a few hours earlier. I want to go back for more.

On Reflection … the application of movement to work

Viv has posted this about what The New Scientist has to say about the importance of movement – Your clever body: Thinking from head to toe (paywalled). Johnnie chimes in here with his own analysis and says …

“It (The New Scientist) lists lots of experiments that demonstrate how powerfully our thinking is linked to feelings and challenges the conventional idea that our body is there to carry out the preconceived notions of our brains.

It looks at a series of curious experiments, including one that suggests the physical act of smiling is more a cause of our feeling happy than the other way round.

It’s further evidence that having meetings where people mostly sit still and listen to presentations is a shocking use of our potential; movement can significantly change the way we think.”

So, Johnnie and I are both with Viv when she says …

“So in designing meetings, we should be thinking about how to accommodate our bodies, as well as our brains; how to intersperse periods of thinking and struggling with ideas and solutions, with movement and activities.”

I’ll go a step further

I agree that designing movement and games into our meetings, workshops is important – the scientific research is saying the same! However, we need to extend this notion to the broader culture of our workplace (and our lives).

I still fall into the trap of separating out the ‘deep thinking and struggling’ workshop processes with movement-based activities. I think we have some notion that they are a good warm-up or ‘brain-gym’ activity for the brain. Maybe its the integration of movement/play with rational/serious thinking that is needed. It’s why I am fan of simple activities like Walking-Talking meetings.

This integration of physical movement, activity and play also needs to be extended beyond the realm of the ‘facilitated workshop’. Our workplaces need it built into the spaces and the way we run our businesses.

5Ryhthms in Melbourne

By the way, if you are interested in trying this out for yourself, here are the contact details:

5Rhythms Dance®

Tuesday nights : 7.30pm – 9.30pm

St Brigids Parish Hall : Corner Nicholson St and Alexander Pde, Nth Fitzroy

Off street parking is available (enter off Nicholson St) and tram no 96 stops out the front. Bring a bottle of drinking water, layers of clothes and soft dancing shoes.

$15

Meredith and David
5Rhythms Dance®
dance5rhythms@bigpond.com


Comments

  1. Hi Geoff,

    I’m so glad you took the time to reflect on your experience dancing the 5Rhythms, and I enjoyed reading your recap. I took my first 5Rhythms class a little more than a year ago and haven’t stopped since. I have a dance background, but I don’t think I ever truly “danced” until I stepped into a 5Rhythms class. I am my most authentic during 5Rhythms, so much that it has become difficult to go to a real club and go through the motions of what is expected when dancing in a club/bar scene.

    I love your comment that “This integration of physical movement, activity and play also needs to be extended beyond the realm of the ‘facilitated workshop’. Our workplaces need it built into the spaces and the way we run our businesses.” I look forward to the day American businesses realize that sitting in a chair for 8 hours per day does not necessarily equal productivity.

  2. David Juriansz says:

    Geoff, What a beautiful description of a ‘first time experíence’. I wish I had documented my experience when I first walked into a 5Rhythms class – 12 years ago…

    As a first time contributor to your blog i think it is fantastic that you and your colleagues are connecting with the world of ‘talking heads’ and finding ways to help them discover the language of movement. When wearing my other hat as a workplace facilitator, I often walk into an office of men and women in suits – sometimes on a Wednesday morning after I have been in the 5Rhythms environment the previous night. They are such different worlds but I find it useful to remember that each person in that corporate, often constrained environmenmt is a dancer. How do I know that? Because all of them were 4 years old once, and you should see my son Jacob’s recation when the music goes on at home. It is instinctive and instantaneous. Your work, no doubt seeks to tap into this…

    Geoff – your openness and willingness to go to a nervous edge is a great asset, helping you and the other facilitators pushing boundaries to seek out new territory. As Gabrielle Roth, the founder of the 5Rhythms says, “if you are not on your edge, where are you?”. I recommend reading more of her writing – google some of her essays or interviews. She is indeed a wise intuitive soul. My wife Meredith and I are eternally grateful for the wisdom of her vision, and the opportunity to offer 5Rhythms in Melbourne.

    Until we meet again Geoff. Please keep me in the loop about the conference that is running next eyar which sounds really interesting.

    Best wishes
    David
    dance5rhythms@bigpond.com

  3. GeoffBrown says:

    Thanks for the comment Jennifer … only wished I lived closer to Melbourne to attend more often. Geoff

  4. GeoffBrown says:

    Thanks David

    I will take your advice and read more of her wisdom … being at the edge is where everything happens! I also love the idea that nothing is static … Everything is moving all of the time.

    Until next time brother!

    Geoff

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