5Rhythms is a movement meditation practice devised by Gabrielle Roth in the late 1970s. It draws from indigenous and world traditions using tenets of shamanistic, ecstatic, mystical and eastern philosophy. It also draws from Gestalt therapy, the human potential movement and transpersonal psychology. Fundamental to the practice is the idea that everything is energy, and moves in waves, patterns and rhythms.
Roth describes the practice as a soul journey, and says that by moving the body, releasing the heart, and freeing the mind, one can connect to the essence of the soul, the source of inspiration in which an individual has unlimited possibility and potential.
The practice of the five rhythms is said by Roth to put the body in motion in order to still the mind. The five rhythms (in order) are flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness. The five rhythms, when danced in sequence, are known as a "Wave." A typical Wave takes about an hour to dance.
Longer workshops may, according to The Dancing Path, explore emotion, the cycle of life, the ego, relationships and spiritual vision.
The Moving Center & 5Rhythms Global
Roth founded The Moving Center in 1977 to train and develop certified teachers, which shapeshifted into 5Rhythms Global in 2012.
The 5Rhythms movement has spread worldwide with 253 registered teachers (in 2012).
Charlotte Macleod, writing in the London Evening Standard, describes dancing the 5Rhythms as a kind of antidote to life in a large city, and how she was attracted to a dance class by a video of Thom Yorke. The class leaves her "mentally and physically refreshed, and oddly connected to the other dancers." The dance was "a kind of moving meditation" for her.
Christine Ottery, writing in The Guardian, states that "ecstatic dancing has an image problem" and "encompasses everything from large global movements such as 5Rhythms and Biodanza to local drum'n'dance meet-ups". She suggests that readers may "find 5 Rhythms a good place to start", and does so herself: "Nervously, I stretch and warm my muscles. As the rhythms take off, I shake off my shyness." She dances in different ways, alone or with partners. "My body is expressing itself - it's utter abandonment and a complete high."
Jed Lipinski, writing in the New York Times, notes that 5Rhythms is suitable for all ages, unlike some other forms of dance and movement. He observes that "At a recent 5Rhythms class ... in Manhattan, more than 100 people were gleefully writhing and leaping to tribal drumming courtesy of Ms. Roth’s husband, Robert Ansell... Dancers occasionally released guttural howls, as if exorcising the demons of the workweek."
The Daily Telegraph writes of 5Rhythms that "I love it precisely because it isn't based on learned steps. Instead, the idea is to find your own dance by moving your body in whatever way you fancy. For those of us keen to improve our fitness, it can also be an energetic aerobic workout."
Academics working in mental health and other fields are starting to carry out research about the 5Rhythms. The Mental Health Foundation, a UK charity published the 'Dancing for Living Report' describing a group of women's experience of 5Rhythms dance and the effects on their emotional wellbeing.
Parody in Popular Culture
The British TV sitcom Peep Show featured an episode ("Dance Class") where the two principal male characters attend a 'Rainbow Rhythms' class which invites its participants to interpretatively dance 'colours', featuring guidance and a closing circle reminiscent of a 5Rhythms class.
- North, Madelaine (20 February 2005). "TALK OF THE TOWN: Just do it Rhythm is a dancer". Independent on Sunday.
- Juhan, Andrea (August 2003). "Open Floor: Dance, Therapy, and Transformation through the 5Rhythms". Union Institute and University. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
- Gabrielle Roth. Maps to Ecstasy, 1989.
- "The Dancing Path". 5 rhythms global. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
- "5Rhythms Global - List of Member Teachers". Retrieved 1 September 2012.
- Macleod, Charlotte (April 6, 2011). "Thom Yorke and the new 5Rhythms dance craze". London Evening Standard. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- Ottery, Christine (21 July 2009). "Ecstatic dance: rhythm to beat the blues". The Guardian. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
- Lipinski, Jed (4 August 2010). "The New York Times: Fashion and Style". Dance, Dance, Dance. And That’s It. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
- "Feel the rhythm from head to heal". Telegraph.co.uk. 6 January 2007. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- Cook, Sarah; Ledger, Karen; Scott, Nadine (2003), Dancing for Living Report: Women's experience of 5 Rhythms dance and the effects on their emotional wellbeing, Sheffield: U.K. Advocacy Network
- Hogya, Anne Marie (March 2004). "5RHYTHMS™ IN THE WORKPLACE: EXPLORING MOVEMENT AS A CORPORATE TRAINING APPROACH". Royal Roads University. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- Miller, Shelly. "President's Teaching Scholars Program". University of Colorado at Boulder. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
- Roth, Gabrielle; Maps to Ecstasy; 1989; Nataraj Publishing; Novato, CA
- Roth, Gabrielle; Sweat Your Prayers; 1997; Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin; NY, NY
- Roth, Gabrielle; Connections; 2004; Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin; NY, NY
- Stewart, Iris J.; Sacred Woman, Sacred Dance: Awakening Spirituality Through Movement and Ritual. Inner Traditions, 2000.