Rose has been dancing 5Rhythms since 2003, and been an accredited teacher since 2011. In 5Rhythms she has found a practice where she can express and accept her dark, wild and tender self.
As a teacher and dancer Rose is drawn to explore ways of dancing that embodies this wild spirit, whilst honouring the physical truth of how the body ages and changes with time. Rose lives in an urban village on the edge of Bradford city centre, and teaches classes and day workshops in Bradford, Leeds, Manchester and online.
What is 5R?
The 5Rhythms practice was created by Gabrielle Roth and grew out of her experiences of teaching dance to elders, people in psychiatric units, children and young people, as well as thousands of people in workshops who were seeking a deeper relationship to their own bodies. Over time she identified 5 main Rhythms: Flow, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness, and together these form a Wave of energy.
In a class we move through these 5Rhythms, exploring in movement and dance how our own bodies hold, express and release these patterns and rhythms.
What, for you, is the role of play in the 5Rhythms practice?
What immediately came to mind was a session with Gabrielle Roth in one of the Teacher Training sessions when she asked us why so many people were drawn to 5Rhythms. We were offering 'spiritual' type answers, along the lines of 5Rhythms being a dancing path to ecstasy, a mindful movement practice and so on, and Gabrielle eventually stopped us saying yes yes yes (I think she was slightly exasperated with us) but the reason they love it is because it's fun! So I do see playfulness as being there from the beginning of my practice as a teacher. But the meaning I bring to 'play' is quite broad, and I see play as a willingness to explore something, in this case movement, without judging what is created. When I see children absorbed in their play, I see they bring everything to it, all their energy, attention and imagination, and it can be an intense experience, and I like that notion of play as something that is whole-hearted and involves the whole self, and in a way where what is being created is constantly changing and evolving. There is a fluidity in play that moves around fixed points.
In terms of the 5Rhythms, I think play sits most easily in the rhythm of Lyrical, and we are often more able to be playful with others in Lyrical. In Sweat Your Prayers Gabrielle writes: 'In Flowing you discover yourself. In Staccato you define yourself. Chaos helps you dissolve yourself, so you don't end up fixed and rigid in the self you discovered and defined. Lyrical inspires you to devote yourself to digging deep into the unique expression of your energy. And Stillness allows you to disappear in the big energy that holds us all so you can start the whole process over again.' (Sweat Your Prayers, pp 194-195). I feel that when we're digging deep into that unique expression of our energy, we're playing at a deep level in the dance, and we're most visible, and being visible, other people can join us in our dance, and can play with us.
In what ways does play feature in your teaching?
I like to think that what I described above permeates throughout my teaching, and especially in workshops where we have a bit more time to create an open space, and drop into the space and let go of the judging mind. I like to offer a piece of work (such as a movement exercise or a dancing journey) and then see how this works in the group, and what unravels as we 'play' with the material, and although I have an idea about what I hope people will gain from the play/work I'm curious to see how it evolves. I see this as grown-up play. Sometimes I offer ritual or theatre as part of my work, and while this can be quite solemn sometimes, I like to think that there is still a quality of play as described above.
And in your own practice?
There are times when I sense that I've dropped into the open space where I can 'play' rather than trying to get it right! I feel that the 5Rhythms enables every body to move in and out of moments of beauty and grace irrespective of our body shape or levels of mobility, and there are times when I'm aware that I so want to be in that state of grace that I try too hard and it becomes work with a goal or outcome rather than staying open to the possibility of what is here, in this moment. (And by the way, I think work and having goals and outcomes are very useful, but so many of us live in a world where they are prioritised over curiosity and playfulness, and so it's good to encourage more play!)
What are the rewards and challenges of connecting playfully 'in person'?
When I connect with someone in the dance, I experience a broadening, an expansion of my sense of myself. I feel that parts of me that are at the edge of my awareness become more available to stand in the light. I feel more confident. In that moment, I feel more trusting of myself and the other person, and of people in general. My experience of the challenges of connecting playfully in the dance are mainly to do with boundaries. I sometimes have a sense of intense energy in the dance, and I often do not want physical contact, and negotiating that in movement can sometimes be tricky.
How does that differ in an online environment?
One of the main challenges for me of dancing online is not being able to Flow around the other people, and not being able to feel the flow of energy around the room. And when it comes to Lyrical, I miss the joy of playing in flow, the hide and seek of following someone around the room, of spreading magic around the room. And one of the benefits of being online is that I have control over how near or far I am from the screen and from other dancers. I have loved the playful connections some of us have found online, and I do feel that there are some real benefits of connecting in movement online, especially with hands and with faces, where movements can be easier to isolate, mirror and amplify, so we can mirror back simple and small movements that might get lost in an in-person class where there is so much else to pay attention to.
To find out more about Rose and her teaching
visit her website here: http://www.5rhythmswithrose.co.uk/