Searching for a rhythm

People were sitting in a circle, with cushions and candles and a sense of ease and quietness in the space. I entered the small room and moved towards a free space sliding by instruments, a guitar, a small piano, the harmonium, a flute, wrist bells and a cello. It was a night for improvisation and chanting, with moonlight joining by the window, through the forest.

At one point in the 90 minutes of the most magical co-creation of music I’ve ever experienced, I saw a drum on the side, took it and started tapping. Timidly at first, and then, when I found the pace, with surrender, making my sound present with all others.

No audience, only full participants guided by intuition. If your heart beats, I told myself, you have rhythm.

This subject has been on my mind for a while, especially since, a month ago, I moved to a tranquil area on the west coast of Wales.

I moved from London, that busy non-stop, connected, fast-paced and, at moments, seemingly chaotic city.

After 23 years there, my body was fully attuned to the metropolis. I exuded confidence in its avenues and lanes, and navigating the tube was second nature. Zebra crossings felt 98% safe, as cars would stop with no fail, most of the time.

There are human-made rhythms: the configuration of cities, traffic lights, train schedules, peak hours, and of course, music.

And. Of Course. Music.

I learned tango in Angel and Covent Garden, I tried staccato and lyrical steps in Paddington. My living room became a rhythmical pad at moments, the head-quarters of a pace I am now researching.

Over the last five years or so, my inner rhythm has been changing fundamentally.

A series of personal crises gave way to inner landscapes and very, very slow movements.

Landing in Wales feels like a natural progression in this journey. Slowness is possible in London, but not easy. Where I live now, being slow is fully supported by the natural beauty, sea views, hills, streams of water on one side, a river running on the other, the sound of animals. The quality of the silence at night is breathtaking, and I cannot say, yet, I have found my rhythm.

I walk almost every day, clumsily, and I see myself stopping way more times than it is advisable on work days. I am like taking it all in. In some muddy footpaths, there are moments when I could stop forever only to listen and feel.

I am in search of a rhythm.

We know it’s everywhere. It’s there in the lunar phases, the seasons, in the ocean waves. It’s in our heartbeats, in the pulses of our body, in our breathing. Some of us experience menstrual cycles, and we all move through circadian rhythms.

What kind of dance is the river inviting me to? And what’s the tempo residing in the silence of dawn and starry nights?

It takes time to find and embody a new rhythm. You cannot simply transplant a city guy and expect him to thrive in the middle of the jungle. There are codes to be learned, a language, an intonation. Being fully attuned requires practice and deep immersion.

I know that well from my tango beginner lessons, when I do awkward steps from the head, trying to understand, analyse and figure out.

I’ve been wondering what lessons we dancers can take from nature, and I could fairly bet the answer is in our bodies, right in the belly. That is where I’m rooting my research these days. Not in books, in podcasts or conversations, but in my gut.

There, with due attention, I will find my flow.

In a recent workshop about dancing Blues, I heard the advice that, when you dance, there is one way to never lose the rhythm again: Install it in your belly.

Perhaps what I’m after is right inside. The rhythm of what is actually unfolding. The rhythm of my true nature.

Jesus Acosta

Rhythm Toolkit Workshop

This workshop led by Vicci, in Brighton, UK, was all in-depth knowledge and electricity.

The study of circadian rhythms

Scientists have shown that a gene that helps control the body’s clock produces a protein that builds up in cells overnight, then breaks down during the day.

Vaishnavi’s rhythm

Vaishnavi Brassey is at it, chanting and drumming.
(full disclosure: I love her with all my heart)

 There is no movement without rhythm