If you don’t do your dance, who will?

by Geli Carney


I don’t really ‘do’ New Age stuff – crystals and chakra balancing are for other people. I do, however, love to dance!

But not choreographed routines, or the disciplinary demands of ballroom (though I quietly harbour an ambition to conquer the tango one day). I just enjoy dancing in a free/go-with-it/DIY style, perhaps unique to the pre-hip hop/post-disco era of my generation.  Beyond 30, domesticity dawns and suddenly it’s not so easy to find time, nor a place, where I feel comfortable dancing, apart from, maybe, my own living room.

So when I first heard about 5Rythmes and the free-movement and self-expression style of dancing it offered I was intrigued and knew I had to give it a go.


I love their slogan: If you don’t do your dance, who will?




A type of ‘trance dance’, 5Rythmes is a free-movement practice – a form of meditation that connects body and mind.  The improvised dance is meant to be a powerful tool for relaxation, inspiration and transformation.


Other trance dance sessions may offer a different structure but in a 5Rythmes session the music shifts through five different tempos: flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness (a complete cycle is referred to as a ‘wave’). A typical wave takes around an hour to dance and allows you complete freedom to explore and express your current state of mind – with clear cathartic benefits.


Each rhythm touches different qualities of movement, energies and emotions.

Sure, it has a New Age flavour to it, but then so did yoga 20 years ago and I think we can all agree, that’s pretty mainstream now.




On arrival the hall is thankfully darkened and I hover for a while in the shadows just observing the other figures. Some are walking, some are standing and swaying, others are twisting themselves into pretzel-like shapes.

Gathering all my confidence I start moving slowly to the music. Before long, I forget where I am and my limbs start moving to their own rhythm. I may as well be in my own living room.

As the music gets louder and faster with beating drums, I respond accordingly and suddenly I’m bouncing around like a much younger version of myself. This must be the chaos part of the dance cycle. I’m amazed at the energy emanating from my body at a time when I’d normally be ready to get myself to bed (I would be paying the price the next day, but in a good way: I’d definitely done some exercise!).

As the music slows into more harmonious tones, I’m filled with lightness and joy – like a child.

Finally, we are guided to stillness – I feel exhausted, exhilarated and incredibly calm.

As I walk out into the night, I know I’ll be back soon.





(Relatively) low-impact form of exercise 

It depends how vigorously you dance, of course! And two hours of any regular physical activity will do this for you but if, like me, you don’t enjoy competitive or team sports, 5Rythmes offers a non-threatening, tension-busting way to exercise.


Minimum French required

While there is some explanation and encouragement offered by the instructor you really are free to dance and express yourself without needing to understand everything (or anything!) that is said.


You’re not alone (even if you go alone)

I am usually guaranteed to feel Maximum Awkward when turning up alone to things. However, the wide age range of dancers (from mid 20s to 70s) and the (more or less) even mix of gender, meant I felt far less self-conscious in this environment than, say, walking into an exercise-class of ‘performance’-clad, gym bunnies.


At some point, you will achieve ‘flow’ 

Or, as Wikipedia puts it: “a feeling of energized focus…and enjoyment in the process of the activity”.

At first I felt rather self-conscious but the room is kept relatively dark so fairly quickly I found myself getting lost in the rhythm of the music for long periods, not minding what I was doing (and certainly not paying much attention to anyone else).


It’s cheaper than a gym!

A two-hour session costs 25chf (20chf for students and AVS) and you simply pay as you go – no monthly subscription or other paperwork required.


There are weekly Waves every Thursday and Friday evening (different venues) all run by 5Rythmes Genève. Weekend workshops and other types of classes are also offered. For full programme details visit www.5rythmesgeneve.ch. Also check out trancedance.com for other trance dance experiences in Geneva. I’ll be trying this next.




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