The 5 Rhythms Ecstatic Dance


While teaching in Greece in September I discovered the deep joy that is ecstatic dance. What is it?  In essence, a very powerful form of moving meditation, a kind of dancing Pilates if you will.

The 5 Rhythms, developed by Gabrielle Roth in the late 1970s, is the best known form of ecstatic dance.  It’s suitable for all ages, sizes and physical abilities. There are no steps to follow, no choreography to learn, no way to do it wrong, just fantastic music that keeps calling you to dance, and a teacher to guide you through the process.

Just like light, sound or ocean waves, a dancing body when moving freely passes through five distinct rhythmic patterns:

  • flowing,
  • staccato,
  • chaos,
  • lyrical,
  • stillness.

These patterns continuously repeat themselves in a wave of motion. The 5 Rhythms reflect how energy flows through the body and through our lives.

Here’s a taster of the 5 Rhythms form of ecstatic dance…

5 Rhythms classes take place all over the world.  Just Google 5 Rhythms and your location to find the nearest one.

For those living in and around Bristol, I can highly recommend Bernadette Ryder’s 5 Rhythms drop-in class which takes place every Friday evening all year round from 20.00-22.30.   The venue is Studio 2 of Hamilton House, Bristol, BS1 3QY. No need to book, no experience required.  All welcome. The cost is £12 or £10 for concessions.  At the end of the class there is usually an informal ‘after cafe’ for people to chill out together over healthy teas and nibbles.

Ecstatic dance is an amazing experience.  Like a very polite, drug-free rave!  Try it.  Trust me, your body will love it.

To close, one of my favourite tracks to dance to…usually clears the floor so I’ve got plenty of room to move!!  Keith Flint in this video though – disturbing!




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