Conscious dance requires no skills or substances. And it’s remarkably freeing.




“Energy moves in waves. Waves move in patterns. Patterns move in rhythms. A human being is just that energy, waves, patterns, rhythms. Nothing more.”
—Gabrielle Roth

We’ve been dancing for well over two hours. Each of us follows our instincts across the hardwood floor. Limbs are everywhere, moving any which way. Each motion takes us one step closer to freedom—freedom from ourselves.

There were about a dozen of us. As we settled ourselves on the floor in the Royston Community Club, it was obvious, yet unspoken, that we were all there for something. Curiosity is what brought me to this 5Rhythms workshop; I’d been hearing a lot about conscious dance lately. But these next five hours would be a vulnerable experience, and the thought made me want to run. It seemed out there, a little too woo-woo.

And I was completely sober.

A good portion of my twenties was spent on the dance floor uninhibited by anything or anyone around me—thanks to alcohol. So this was something new.

Guided by Chantell Foss, a trained 5Rhythms teacher, we moved through the five rhythms (states of being): Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, and Stillness. She explained that each one would take us anywhere we wanted to go, allowing us to explore a range of expression and emotion and leaving us open, courageous, liberated, empowered, and mindful.

At the beginning, I found myself thinking, “As long as I move like everyone else, they won’t know I lack any rhythm of my own.” I soon realized this wouldn’t get me far, and the whole experience wasn’t about preconceived notions of how it’s meant to look. This was about moving from within, from the inside out.

It was remarkable how hard I had to work to get there—to focus my attention inward and stop caring about how I might appear to others. But eventually I got out of my head and let the energy within take over and move me across that floor.

Long sweeping limbs and rounded movements get us started, pulling us here and there as we slowly gain momentum, exploring the rhythm and all that unfolds. Before we know it, we’re getting it all out and I’m throwing myself towards the crescendo with big, open-hearted movements. Here I am, in a room full of strangers, intoxicated by the music; exuberant and sweaty; emptied, yet whole.

CVC Vol34 3 Dance Gallery

Reaching the top, our movements slow and become smaller and smaller as we pause here and there. Our pulses slow and our breath returns to normal. In time, we find ourselves in complete stillness on the floor—and surrender to it.

It was a wild, transformative ride. One I truly didn’t expect—one I won’t soon forget.

Many describe conscious dance as a moving meditation intended to raise one’s awareness of self through dance. There are a variety of forms all over the world, many inspired by Gabrielle Roth’s work of the 5Rhythms. Pioneered in the late 1970s, 5Rhythms draws from indigenous and world traditions using shamanistic, ecstatic, mystical, and eastern philosophy teachings. It also pulls from Gestalt therapy (a focus on the present), the human potential movement, and transpersonal psychology.

Conscious dance in all its forms can provide a safe space for creativity, community, collective joy, expression, healing, and inquiry. It certainly got me out of my head and stirred a riot in my heart. I felt it deeply in that old hall in Royston, and I witnessed it in those around me, too. In five hours, I broke a few self-imposed barriers and enjoyed the hell out of the process. Without a hangover!

If you’re curious about conscious dance, just do it. Abandon yourself to the rhythm and go wherever it takes you.

Whether you’re drawn to sober/conscious dance or a more formal dance program, you’ll find info on a wealth of local opportunities and offerings at Dancing in the Comox Valley’s Facebook group.