In the Middle

October 26, 2014

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

Lately, I have a very strong sense of being in the middle of many exciting trajectories.  My very first post was about Lucia’s Waves workshop in December, 2013; and the key insight that I experienced during the workshop was that I am very much in the middle.  At times, I have missed the middle completely because I thought I was still warming up!  There is no point in pacing myself, as I sometimes do, so I will have enough left once things really heat up.  I can easily talk a good game about being in the middle, about being present now, and about not holding back; but being in the middle in a satisfying way also requires a lot of dedicated work inside the many ongoing beginnings.  I think the experience of being in the middle might actually be the pay-off for faith and discipline. Getting older might have some upsides after all (!)

I am being vague. Thank you for bearing with me, dear readers, if, indeed, you have.  Let me locate myself in relation to the dance first, then I will be happy to share specifics about my own experiences.

Amber taught Tammy’s class on Friday night. Have I mentioned that I love Amber? It is immediately apparent that she has always been a dancer, and that she has an exceptional ability to teach exactly what needs to be taught.  As I stepped inside, pausing and bowing to the room as is my habit, Amber said something on the microphone that let me know she saw me come in.  I was impressed and felt she seemed to be able to see everything in the room.  One of the first songs she played was a thick, tonal track from Massive Attack and I found myself wanting to pull and slide low to the floor.

During her talk, as we paused and rested in a circle around her, Amber reminded us of the two-year anniversary of Gabrielle Roth’s death—the beloved founder of the 5Rhythms practice.  She also taught the core Flowing practice of walking and dancing through the room while seeking empty space; and advised us to consider slowing down.  I found a new way to dance the low spaces between people, and kept touching one hand down, swooping one wing, then curving back into higher open spaces.

One man raised his hand after her talk because he wanted to make a suggestion.  He said, “I appreciate all of your teaching and insights and exhortations and all of that, but could you just let the music teach us during this next wave?”  She said something about loving to dance and he said, “So do we.”  I bristled.  Amber is part of “we”! How dare he try to include me on his team that made her into an Other!  Her response was perfect.  She ended with “I think you will probably get your wish,” but not before she explained that in a class like this (a Waves class), we especially come to dance the 5Rhythms and to practice the basics.  If we just come in and do what we always do, there would not be any growth.  Rather, we come to try on new things and to take on new challenges.  I loved that she was sharp and clear and held her ground, without being defensive or emphatic in any way.

As much as I found in the content of what Amber said, I found that the space she created lead me to alternatingly expansive and constrained expressions of abject joy and excitement.  New forms kept finding me and; and I felt I was dancing the fullness of many things, the tenor of joy, and the squirmy, specific, arcing and leaping and undulating forms of the creative process.

The things I spoke vaguely about before include several different projects.  First, as an artist, I have nearly finished a large body of work that continues to reveal itself to me in delightful glimpses.  Shockingly, gloriously, it has dumped me right into the next body of work.  If you will excuse a reference that only a few will get, it is just as Mahayana practice might dump you abruptly right into Vajrayana like a great mountain stream emptying in a rushing crash into a deep, dark cavern’s pool.  In another trajectory, my avatar as a 10th grade teacher, I have made a little progress, too, and have been sharp and strategic about using what skills I have in the service of students and of the school community.  On another note, after an arduous process, my little son skipped pre-K entirely and entered right into public school kindergarten, where he is thriving and happy—no longer the beginning of sheltered pre-school, but full-on even including homework.  In addition, we are nearing the one-year anniversary of this blog.  Although I am still learning, I am beginning to sink deeply into the process of writing, and to find my voice within this ever-evolving content.

Most relevant to this blog, my own 5Rhythms practice has also opened up in a new way as I take on a role of service within the community through organizing the Family Waves class, New York’s first 5Rhythms class for both children and adults.  I have had the excellent fortune to work closely with Amber as the frame reveals itself, and I have benefitted immensely, learning from her and being influenced by her approach to her own practice and to her own life.  The Family Waves class itself, as well, has moved into a stage of middle now, and I am thrilled that the community is growing and is acquiring its own identity and vision.

The last movement of the night on Friday was, for me, a breathy trance.  The dance loaned me two big, feathery angel wings that I spun gently inside of, forgetting everything but the magic of movement and the quiet grace of being alive.

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