“Mine is the art of inspiring people to turn themselves inside out, transform their suffering into art, their art into awareness, and their awareness into action.”
– Gabrielle Roth
Gabrielle Roth, the Black Raven
It is said that Gabrielle did not create the 5Rhythms, she found them. As a professional dancer she lost her career in a ski accident. Doctors had said that she would never dance again, and she resigned to their words. At the Esalen Institute in California she trained and worked as a masseuse until Fritz Pearls, the founder of Gestalt Therapy, asked her to guide his students through dance. It was in the middle of the 60s, and everything seemed possible. In her book «Maps to Ecstacy» she later described her process like this:
«I am on the deck at Esalen. It is night. I have been watching others dance and seducing people to move for months, all the time afraid to really dance myself. Memories of doctors talking about bone pins and knee operations haunt me.
Under a full moon, the mountains fall into the sea. The deck is crowded with bodies, some hip, some straight, all watching the Big Sur drummers set up for a jam session.
The air is electric as they begin to play. Suddenly, they kick and the beat begins to pound in my body, shattering my inertia. I am drawn from the shaddows – everything is calling me to dance.
All my fears dissapears in the throbbing of pulse of the drums. I forget my knee. I forget that I can not dance. Nothing can stop my spirit from moving, not even my body. I let go as I am swept away in a vortex of motion to the deepst level of ecstatic trance I have ever experienced. I break through to the spirit of the dance as I leave all form behind – forever. My dance and I are one. It is my dance – my body is flying. I am a raven, carrying the sorrow of children on my ebony wings, a wolf, howling on the edge of the night. My shape keeps shifting and I follow it to the Silver Desert.»
She had been through a healing crisis that ended in an ecstatic trance. She became obsessed with mapping out her journey there and back so that she could take others with her. And so she did.
«I danced my pain in these movement sessions and let everyone else dance theirs, whatever it was. Crack the ice, melt the mask, feel something in your bones. Get down. Come alive.»
In 1977 she founded The Moving Center in New York.
Gabrielle was also amongst the pioneers in making ambient music. Together with her band, The Mirrors, and her husband Robert Ansell (the photographer of the picture above), she produced over 20 albums.
Gabrielle died of cancer. As I was lying on the chiropractic bench receiving Network Care, the 22nd of october 2012, I envisioned a black raven flying over me, as a touch of a loving goodbye. The spirit of her work lives on in about 400 teachers worldwide, and ten thousands of dancers. Today Jonathan Horan, Gabrielles son, is the director of The Moving Center.