A Week Like This Should Not Go Un-danced

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

I didn’t think that I would be able to dance last night, but a babysitter came through at the last moment.  I was relieved.  A week like this should not go un-danced, and I doubted I would be able to make it to another class before next Friday’s.  I arrived 15 minutes late and stepped into a room already in the thick of Staccato.

There is a scene in the 2007 film The Great Debaters that I find very moving.  The film is a true story about a debate team from an all-black college.  Set in 1935, the team surmounts incredible obstacles, wins again and again, and goes on to challenge Harvard’s debate team.  In a debate with a white college about whether black students should be admitted to the state’s colleges, the character played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell responds to the opposing team’s position that American society is not yet ready for blacks to attend all-white colleges, and concludes her team’s argument with the impassioned assertion,

“Would you kindly tell me when is that day going to come?  Is going to come tomorrow? Is it going to come next week? In a hundred years? Never? No!  The time for justice, the time for freedom, and the time for equality is always, is always, right now!”

In the last year, I have written extensively about the rhythm of Flowing.  Flowing is the least intuitive of the five rhythms for me, and as such has offered me endless teachings.  The idea that everything around us in dynamic, constant flux is, in my mind, the first level of Flowing.  Next, I connect with the idea that, despite the reality of constant change and movement, there is a ground, and we can find a way to relate to ground that can steady us through the wildest of circumstances.  On another level, I have become empowered to watch for the empty spaces that open up even in a crowded room and move into them, rather than wait opaquely for space to open its formal doors and declare me worthy first.

I have, historically, held myself in Flowing as long as possible, even after I feel the pull to move into Staccato.  I do this mostly because I feel I have a responsibility to the people around me.  If I really find my ground—know my feet on the earth and know my place on it—it is unlikely that I will hurt anyone, physically, emotionally or energetically.

Sometimes, however, there is nothing to do but take a great, bold stride right into the heart of Staccato.  Sometimes you are called out on the spot to speak your truth with full conviction; and if you miss it, you may never get another chance.  Maybe (god I hope so) just maybe, if you have danced and danced until the bottoms of your feet know their place no matter what is happening, when the time comes for Staccato, you will know how to step into it with the full force of passion whether you feel like you are ready for it or not.

I am telling all of this to myself, of course, because no doubt it is old news to all of you.

Stepping right into Staccato last night (since I had no choice) I found a low, powerful stance, and began to move around the room, paying attention to my feet at first, then shifting awareness to my hips, knees and shoulders.

For the last two years I have been teaching 10th grade.  On Thursday, I facilitated a discussion about the decision not to indict the (white) cop who killed Eric Garner (a black man) with an illegal choke hold.  One often-reserved 16-year-old  shared, “When I’m walking, if I see a police officer, I take my hands out of my pockets and I put my hood down right away.”  The refrain about being stopped, questioned and suspected went on and on as the students shared their thoughts.  I learned that many of my students make sure they are home before dark because they are afraid the police might hassle them, find a reason to arrest, or even shoot to kill.

During Tammy’s class, I was distracted because I kept thinking about the discussion, and how I might further it in the coming week.  It occurred to me that instead of thinking about the writing assignment I sent him home with, and thinking about how to bring the full manifestation of his unique, spectacular brilliance to the world, my student was forced to waste his emotional energy wondering if he would be unfairly targeted by the police and thinking about strategies to avoid being killed or arrested.

I exploded into Chaos the moment the music suggested it.  If I had been born in another century, I would have been pronounced possessed.  Chaos, rather than arriving as a tender release, retained its edges and its uncontainable power. I realized that I, like many, carry rage that has been triggered once again by the facts of the Eric Garner case.

I shared notable dances with two close friends, but when Stillness arose at the end of each wave, I found myself still distracted, trying to plan or understand or process the events of recent days.

December 6, 2014, NYC

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