What is 5Rhythms dance?

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Interview for she.hr


5Rhythms dance is a movement meditation, a dance method that doesn’t teach you the right steps but offers instead a way to discover a dancer in you. You don’t need to wait to become slimmer, stronger, happier, or more dexterous in order to dance. You dance with the body and the emotions you have right now and all you need is a decision to show up and move.


The method was founded by Gabrielle Roth, an American dancer, choreographer and theatre director who taught dance since her teenage years to different groups of people: children and teenagers, professional dancers, elderly people, patients in psychiatry wards, and therapists belonging to different therapy schools (she collaborated closely with Fritz Pearls, founder of the Gestalt method). Through years of practical experience, she started realizing that regardless of who she worked with, there were certain repetitive patterns of movement in all the groups.

Through her further exploration, she discovered that there are five rhythms – flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness – that naturally appear in a certain sequence that she called a Wave. She also learned that most of the people can’t move through all the five rhythms with equal ease – some of the rhythms are available to us and the others will not appear that easily.

Since every rhythm carries a certain energy – softness, clarity, relaxation, playfulness, focus etc. – the point is to be able to embody all the rhythms, so that we can be flexible, assertive, wild, carefree and peaceful both in our lives and on the dancefloor.


The first 5Rhythms workshops in Croatia took place in 1998 and today there are four certified Croatian teachers who were trained by Gabrielle Roth. One of them is Enesa Mahić, a certified 5Rhythms teacher and a therapist who regularly leads workshops in Zagreb and outside Croatia.


Therapeutic use and influence on health and personal development

Even though the 5Rhythms are not therapy, they have a healing effect on people who practice them regularly. Since every experience we’ve ever been through – every joy, broken heart, trauma or pleasure – happened in this one and only body we have, it’s completely logical that spontaneous and uncontrolled movement will bring up everything that’s in the body. Just like we have memories in our mind, we also have memories in our bodies.


“Human psyche always wants to heal itself, it wants to heal the limiting and painful parts of us, and in the dance we will very quickly and clearly see our restrictions. Do we feel shame when we’re in a group with other dancers? Are we uncomfortable having other dancers’ attention?  Are we afraid of spontaneous movement and looking silly? Is it difficult for us to be in contact? Do we know how to express ourselves through the dance directly and strongly? With a patient and conscious dance practice we gradually change our old habits, widen our boundaries, becoming more flexible and compassionate”, said Enesa Mahić.

Some people come to the workshop because they physically enjoy this dance which has its frame and a set of instructions but still leaves a lot of space for free and uncontrolled movement. Body becomes softer, stronger, full of energy and we get more connected to it.

Some people come because they want to release pent-up stress, they need an emotional release that happens through the dance exercises. After a while, we’re no longer afraid of certain feelings that we didn’t know what to do with before, we learn to ride the waves of our own emotions. For other people this dance is a spiritual practice, connection with something larger than our egos. Whatever their need is, every dancer seeks and finds what he or she came for.


Anybody can dance

There are 5Rhythms workshops for children, but Enesa’s workshops are for adults only. She says that absolutely everybody can dance the 5Rhythms, regardless of their level of fitness, previous experience or physical condition; we already have all the five rhythms in our bodies so we don’t really need to learn them, just remember them.

In every class or workshop the facilitator suggest how to go deeper into every rhythm but without steps or choreographies that you need to memorize, there is no skill level that you need to reach. “Since you dance just for yourself and not for the others, you’re already good enough”, claims Enesa.


Workshops in Croatia

Dance offers a possibility of freedom, release, abandoning your obsolete roles, it gives you a possibility to express yourself in places where words can’t find a way and to raise your pleasure levels for at least 100%. The classes and workshops take place in Zagreb (Trešnjevka), Osijek and Split and you can find a list of upcoming workshops in the calendar on the webpage.

“Magical transformations take place on the dancefloor and it’s incredibly precious to witness a shy person starting to truly enjoy their own movement or expressing something they never dared to move in their bodies before. One thing is certain: people who dance the 5Rhythms regularly love themselves and their bodies more than they used to” said Enesa.

“Gabrielle Roth says: If you don’t do your dance, who will? I became really aware lately how unique every person is, as well as the qualities they have, and also the fact that there is no substitute for any one of us. If you don’t let go in your dance, if you don’t show up, if you don’t come into the contact, that part will stay forever unexpressed because you are irreplaceable. If you have at least a tiny bit of desire to get to know yourself better and accept yourself more, take a risk and show up on the dancefloor – your body will know what to do even if your mind doesn’t have a clue”, she added.


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