Gabrielle Roth was an American dancer and musician in the world music and trance dance genres, with a special interest in shamanism.
Born in San Francisco, Gabrielle Roth was originally inspired to dance, aged seven, by seeing a ballerina through the window of a dance school, deciding that was her vocation.
She found a book that showed the ballet positions and started to practice in her bedroom, eventually coming to have ballet lessons.
Roth described being inspired by the dance of Spanish gypsy La Chunga and by seeing the Nigerian National Ballet. She trained in traditional dance methods, suffering from anorexia during her teenage years.
Roth was a faculty member at The Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health (Massachusetts) and has taught at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies (New York).
She trained for three years with Oscar Ichazo, founder of the Arica School, and set up her own experimental theatre company in New York City.
The 5Rhythms movement system, founded by Roth in the late 1970s, focuses on five body rhythms: flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness and is “a way to become conscious through dance“. The movement has spread worldwide with 245 registered teachers.
The 5Rhythms have been the subject of at least one Ph.D. thesis, and some academic publications. The Huffington Post described Roth as:
“an incredibly influential teacher of meditative dance”.
She created over twenty albums of trance dance music with her band The Mirrors.
Roth and the Mirrors provided music for Michelle Mahrer’s film, Dances of Ecstasy, in which Roth has an acting credit, appearing as herself. The New York Times review noted that:
“Whirling Dervishes from Turkey, Orisha Priestesses from Nigeria and Brazil, shaman healers from the Kalahari and dancers in a Gabrielle Roth workshop in New York, pulse to the same beat”.
Gabrielle Roth Quotes:
1. “In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: “When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?”
2. “The only way out is through.”
3. “To become a great teacher, one must become a teaching.”
4. “Where we stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experienced the loss of soul. Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves.”
5. “If you want to give birth to your true self, you are going to have to dig deep down into that body of yours and let your soul howl. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and trust that if you turn off your head, your feet will take you where you need to go.”
6. “Between the head and feet of any given person is a billion miles of unexplored wilderness.”
7. “Don’t be afraid to show your light… If it ends up being too much for people.. tell them to wear sunglasses!”
8. “Your soul is a seeker, lover, and artist; shape-shifting through archetypal energy, between your darkness and fields of light, your body, and spirit, your heaven and hell, until you land in the moment of sweet surrender; when you, as a dancer, disappear into the dance.”
9. “Freeing the body inevitably leads to freeing the heart.”
10. “Imagination is powerful. Imagination is healing. All you need is the courage to visualize what should be, and then give yourself to its creation. The result may not be what you expected, but it will be right.”
11. “Your body is the ground and metaphor of your life, the expression of your existence. It is your Bible, your encyclopedia, your life story. Everything that happens to you is stored and reflected in your body. In the marriage of flesh and spirit divorce is impossible.”
12. “Rhythm is our universal mother tongue. It’s the language of the soul.”
13. “I want to take you to a place of pure magic… It’s the place athletes call the “zone”. Buddhists call “satori” and ravers call “trance”. I call it the Silver Desert. It’s a place of pure light that holds the dark within it. It’s a place of pure rhythm.”
14. “Life is sacred. Life is art. Life is sacred art.”