Gabrielle Roth was the most truthful, determined, vibrant, hilarious, seductively ferocious person I have ever encountered.
She was so piercingly, honestly alive that it feels entirely strange to refer to her in the past tense.
On Monday, she said goodbye to all of us here on the physical plane.In the days leading up to her departure, I witnessed the most beautiful sendoff I think many of us have ever seen. A Facebook page was created for students and friends to write her a last love note and within two days, over 4,000 people had joined and left poems, photos and an endless stream of gratitude.
If you dance to get high (not the other way around), if you have ever been to a Barefoot Boogie, an Ecstatic Dance, a Get Your Dance On, a Yoga Rave, or any other of the countless “conscious” dance jams around the world, if you have ever been swept up by the beat into your body’s own brilliance, Gabrielle has probably touched your life.
Of course, this way of dance is ancient, and was ours as a human race for hundreds of thousands of years before Gabrielle. But somewhere along the way, us tight-assed Westerners forgot about it. And 50 years ago, she brought it back.
Over her first decade of teaching people to let go of their rigid patterns and move with abandon, she identified five basic rhythms that pulse through all of life. She qualified them as flow, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness. Her teaching became a practice of embodiment: beginning with a grounded flow, rising in intensity with a sharp staccato, exploding in a chaotic, ecstatic peak to shake out lifetimes of conditioning, lightening up and uncovering an effortless lyrical, and finally, released, untethered from all the mind’s hooks, settling into a wide open stillness.
Through the rhythms, she taught us to surrender to that which moves through everything, and tap into the intelligence embedded deep within our cells. To return home to the rhythm of who we really are, and into a place of profound healing. The practice is, quite literally, a technology for finding God:
“We dance because it’s the fastest, most direct route to the truth—not some big truth that belongs to everybody, but the get down and personal kind, the what’s-happening-in-me- right-now kind of truth. This is not always easy for us to access—we have to navigate some very deep past, as well as the probable futures we drum up to feed the fear that drives us round the same circles, day in and day out.
We dance to hook up to the true genius lurking behind all that bullshit—to seek refuge in our originality and our power to reinvent ourselves; to shed the past, forget the future and fall into the moment feet first…
We dance to reclaim our brilliant ability to disappear in something bigger, something safe, a space without a critic or a judge or an analyst. The beat is a lover that never disappoints and, like all lovers, it demands 100 percent surrender. It has the power to seduce moves we couldn’t dream. It grabs us by the belly, turns us inside out and leaves us abruptly begging for more… We dance to fall in love with the spirit in all things.”
Gabrielle brought the healing power of ecstatic movement back into our collective understanding. She worked tirelessly, through her very last days, to bring the practice to underserved communities who wouldn’t otherwise find their way onto a dance floor: to prisons, hospitals, and schools, to the elderly and to children. This was her dream.
Now, we have a chance to harness the collective wave of gratitude swelling out into the world for Gabrielle’s work and do amazing good.
“What if every one of us who has received benefit from the 5Rhythms turned it into generosity for someone else to receive it? What if we each paid it forward to someone we will never meet? Awareness is beautiful but action is where it’s at. If you don’t believe us, ask Gabrielle.”
To expand the reach of this transformative work and ensure that this is not the end, but the very beginning, click here to support the 5Rhythms Reach Out program.
Thank you Gabrielle. Thank you for living out your truth all the way to its edges. Thank you for walking your talk, and for dancing your dance—in all of its wisdom, fabulousness, and unpredictably, heart achingly honest shapes.
Thank you for paving a big path for every single one of us, who considers dance to be our life, to do what we do in the world today.
We bow to you.
Editor: Brianna Bemel
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