Group Mind – Rhythm & Motion

I’ve been taking Rhythm & Motion (RM) dance classes for about 18 months, and feel like I’ve stumbled into one of the best kept secrets of San Francisco. Who knew that there was a large community of people, who for the last 40 years have been brave enough to plunge into dance classes where the choreography is not so much learned but absorbed at atomic velocity? Classes are led by professional dancers, but offered with the philosophy that dance is for everyone. Personal flavor is prized over technique.

Dance may be for everyone, but I find R&M to be a significant challenge, even though I’ve dedicated years of my life to practicing triplets and pointing my toes. Back when I was a more serious Yoga student, my teacher would instruct the advanced practitioners to psychically radiate knowledge of the poses to the less experienced students. In this magical environment, Visvamitrasana or Eka Pada Galavasana were achievable. Rhythm & Motion is a lot like that. The students who have been coming for decades transmit the choreography to newbies. We become entrained and I relax when my singular consciousness is no longer so separate. A kind of existential loneliness is vanquished.

These classes also challenge a bend towards perfectionism. When I can’t grasp the choreography, or I’m off my leg, or I see my belly poking out, or whatever might trigger the critic, I falter. But there is no time to languish in negativity, if you do you, you’ll miss the next step and possibly kick someone. Survival means staying focused. Students often spontaneously clap at the completion of a song, not to be self-congratulatory but to cheer each other on, as if the whole room is thinking, “Can you even believe we did that?”

Big gratitude to all the incredible instructors, and especially Rhythm & Motion Artistic Director Dudley Flores.

Redirect the holding into movement.

A friend said, “My shoulders are tight. Suggestions for release?”

Often we can’t articulate where and how we feel the holding. Luckily our hands are often much smarter than our minds. Try and describe what you feel with a gesture. Perhaps your fist crumples into a tight ball describing the pain between your shoulder blades. Let your fist unwind. Now imagine that unwinding happening between your shoulders.

Redirect the holding into movement.


anticipation and forward head posture

Meerkats exhibit beautiful head poise. Photo by Jeroen Wehkamp

Here’s a nice study* showing that anxious anticipation is associated with forward head posture, and that the ability to prevent this habit is related to a person’s scores on measures of mindful awareness. The more aware you are, the more easily you can prevent dysfunctional postural habits. Thank you science!

Try Alexander Technique to become mindful in 3-D**!

*Neck posture is influenced by anticipation of stepping, J. L. Baera,  A. Vasavadab , R. G. Cohen, Human Movement Science, vol 64 (2019)

**Mindfulness in 3D is a phrase coined by British Alexander Technique teacher Peter Nobes