Whirling and Weeping in West London!

So, I finally attended a 5Rhythms (5R) class last night after months of thinking about going.  For any of you who aren’t sure what 5R is it is a dance based movement practice constructed by Gabrielle Roth.  Roth states that 5R is a “dynamic movement practice – a practice of being in your body – that ignites creativity, connection and community”
If I had read that before I went I may have swerved going as sentences like “being in your body” are words that sort of scare me off! I only had a recommendation from a friend as my knowledge and I decided not to read up about it and just go.  Often we do too much research into things rather than just try for ourselves (this is a new rule for 2017).
On a practical level with 5R you generally don’t have to book a place and there are no contracts to sign up so you are not tied in; that is appealing to me as you can go to classes when you like and in different areas.  This also gives you variety as each class is different in terms of music; however the principles of the movements and rhythms remain the same.
My class was at a college in West London.  I was slightly nervous when I turned up as I really didn’t know what to expect apart from that I had to wear comfy clothes and that I would be dancing for two hours.
The dancing would be done in a gym hall with the lights dimmed alongside low glowing lights to give an almost ethereal vibe – very relaxing.  I counted approximately fifty people in the hall and at first this was slightly intimidating but we all had enough space between us.
I found my space and lay down on the floor essentially copying other people at first.  The music was classical and the acoustics in the hall made the music bounce around me.
I lay on my back and stared up at the ceiling just letting the music surround me, then I noticed people getting up and making shapes slowly, some were twirling around, others were doing Bambi leaps around the room and I decided to stand up myself. The music changed to a faster pace – cool Senegalese guitar with a funky afro beat – I felt my body respond but still felt a bit shy! I shuffled from side to side self-consciously; I was utterly cringing inside but was also amazed at how open people were! The atmosphere was so welcoming and free and everyone just seemed to be doing their thing regardless.  I realised that no one will care about what I am doing because they are just free in their own world.  The music was too tempting for me not to break out my best dance moves so I started to move like I would in a rave! I had my head down at first as I didn’t want to look at anyone! The music then became more techno and tribal and I basically just let myself go! I was head up, doing the running man, swaying from side to side, smiling at people, moving around the room, laughing and genuinely felt like I was at a party but on my own focusing on exercise which in a way gave myself permission to really go for it.
However, the instructor then said something that chilled me cold “partner up with someone, copy their movements, embrace their movements, welcome them into your space” and I immediately thought “oh jeeeez, here we go, this is clearly a cult and I am about to be initiated” until all of a sudden a woman about my age danced up to me, smiled and started doing really cool dance moves that I decided to copy! I don’t know what came over me I was being intimate with a stranger and not feeling awkward about it.  That spurned me on even more to just let myself go – why not I thought, this is hall full of people dancing like crazy and they don’t seem to give one shit.  At one point I though we all looked like the scene out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  I laughed to myself and thought that dancing in itself looks so bizarre and that this was no different to being in a club.  The feeling of being so free gave me goosebumps and I started doing really wild moves.  I was jumping up and down lightly on my feet, swinging my arms around, bellydancing, shaking my whole body, pumping my fists and I become a shape rather than a human with preconceived ideas and self conscious barriers! I just entered into an almost meditative state of mind.
The music became chaotic and this is when the real madness happened; howling, guttural screaming, groaning, whoops all permeated the air – many of those sounds coming from me! By this time I was sweating and my legs were aching! Two hours of dancing is actually quite strenuous.
After a crescendo that reached such a peak I thought my heart would burst and that the gym hall would suddenly collapse in on us, the beat started to slow down.  A tune from Simon and Garfunkel, came on and the vibe changed again; people smiled and wiggled their hips past me and I ended up dancing identical moves with a really tall man, laughing as I did so.
Coming towards the end, music full of strings and film score grandiosity filled the room; people started to lie back down on the floor and so I followed suite.
I felt so grateful for the rest and my body was zinging from head to toe.  I again rested my head back and looked up to the ceiling so that I could focus and meditate and be present in the moment.  Hairs were standing up on my arms as the beautiful music seemed to permeate my entire brain and I suddenly felt a huge ball of sadness in the pit of my stomach.  I could actually visualise it; it moved up to my throat and my eyes started to water; I wanted to cry so hard.  I couldn’t stop it, I actually started crying; silent tears just leaking out of my face.  I held my stomach and tried to breath from my diaphragm to slow my heaving heart down but I continued to let the tears out.  I felt that the sadness wasn’t sad but more a recognition of sadness – there is a huge difference because within that kind of sadness there is release and hope.
#healthy #sober #5rhythms #dancing #meditation #laughter #exercise #spirituality

Women, Glorious Women

I went to a Salon Lecture at the BFI the other night in the Reuben Library hosted by Club des Femme.  Their manifesto below:

“We are a queer feminist collective. We curate film screenings and events. Our mission is to offer a freed up space for the re-examination of ideas through art.

In the age of the sound-bite, Club des Femmes is a much-needed open platform for more radical contextualisation and forward-looking future vision: a chance to look beyond the mainstream!”


I had never heard of Club des Femme (website above if you are interested) and one of the things I like in my life is to discover and learn, constantly! I especially love being inspired by creative women who care about women and art.  This all made me think about inspiring women and of how we will be celebrating International Women’s Day on Wednesday.  I thought I would do a run down of my most inspiring women and of how they have influenced me.

Obviously I have to mention my Mum – she is everything.  She has overcome so much and been so strong, at times it astounds me.  Her passion for life and her spirit of adventure has influenced me massively.  I remember as a child she always told me “if you get knocked down, get straight back up again” and pretty much that’s a core value I have held dearly.  She is my best friend and I love her more than words can say.

My other personal influences have to be the female lecturers who inspired and enthralled me at University – Dr Kelly Boyd and Professor Lesley Stevenson who saw I had passion for history and art and helped me to get my  head around it all.  I remember always coming out of the lectures feeling excited about learning and about how education was changing me into a better person.  Education saved me.

In my younger years I seriously looked up to Ffyona Campbell and Ellen Macarthur – both incredible women who challenged themselves, breaking world records into the bargain.  I often find this funny that as a young lass I was influenced by these women for their physical feats because I was very much a non-physical person (lazy!).  I think their mental strength and the way they overcame fear and dangerous situations was something I wished at the time I had. Courage. I especially like Ffyona’s story as she was extremely vulnerable at times and her life has had real lows but she always fought back.  I felt like I was with her every step she took when I was reading her book “The Whole Story: A Walk Around the World” and I always wished I could maybe one day walk part of the world -although it is never too late!

When I watched the documentary of Ellen sailing solo around the world I felt such immense pride for her and complete awe that when she crossed the finish line I was crying, jumping up and down screaming! Honestly – amazing women!

This then leads me onto the literary women I am in awe of.  I loved Zadie Smith’s novel “White Teeth”; reading each line so slowly so that I could  lap up her delicious words.  Her writing is complex and beautiful and I instantly fell in love.  Her portrait of multi-cultural London, and later on with “NW” just takes me back to a time when I had first moved to London and I was so excited and everything was new to me. I read “NW” a few months after my Dad died and it was like a special treat for me to be lost in her words.  Smith has been named one of the most influential people in British culture and rightly so.  Here I also want to mention Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who wrote “Half of a Yellow Sun” and “Americanah” – these are the only books I have read so far but they are both utterly stunning.  The way Adichie writes also makes me want to savour each word, they make it so easy to create the images in your head without overloading in detail.  I loved “Americanah” and would often find myself wryly laughing at the protagonists observations feeling like I was really in her head.

One of my other female influences in academia has to be Professor Sherry Turkle (MIT) who has written  huge content on the psychology of the digital age.  Her book “Alone Together” was a bible for me during some PhD research I was conducting on how we connect with images, identity, and with each other in the digital age.  Her earlier book “Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet” is fascinating.  She is a leading voice in the area of technology and society.  Below I have linked a TED Talk she gave on the subject of how we are so connected but yet so alone.

Now I have to mention my art influences and as part of some research I was conducting in 2012  I wanted to look at women who actively subverted the normative codes of beauty and gender. My research took me to Claude Cahun (Lucy Schwob) a 19th Century photographer who had lived under Nazi occupation in Jersey.  Cahun had risked her life to question matters such as female sexuality, the possibility of a third gender, and had made political statements though her surrealist imagery.  Cahun challenged the gaze and mimicked the fascist rhetoric of the time, using her body, turning the camera onto herself.  She influenced a generation of women photographers to challenge the norm and to deconstruct beauty (especially self portraiture) in order to take away its power.  Below are some of her images – utterly fascinating!


I also have to nod then to my favourite photographer, Jo Spence

The first time I saw a Jo Spence image I felt very strange.  It was of a fat middle aged naked woman (her) and I didn’t quite know why I felt strange looking at it.  I loved the image but felt like I almost wasn’t allowed to because it wasn’t traditionally “beautiful”; but she looked so free and I felt almost jealous that she could feel that.  She looked powerful and strong in her skin. At that time I was struggling with my own body image; it was like she gave me a new way of thinking about my body. Spence was a feminist and socialist and used photography to comment on issues such as gender and the body.  Later on in her career she documented her battle with breast cancer, she died in 1992 from Leukaemia.  The images of her scarred breasts and of procedures confront a truth about the body and illness and considers how the female body is owned.  I love her unashamed,  “fuck you” to the world and I intend to be just as strong as her in my life time.


So that is my round up of amazing women.  Thank you to all the women out there who strive to push the boundaries.  Love to all.


#art #women #photography #health #sober #internationalwomensday











Let it be…

Letting it be on the Grand Union Canal.

Today I walked past this and I feel it is a sign. Ive been recently mulching over things from the past in a quest to maybe straighten out my future. I went to see a Regression Therapist and was hypnotised to think about my life in areas that upset me.  It was interesting but I felt so bored at the end of the session; talking about the past again (after a few years of psychotherapy a decade ago) feels like giving it power again.

I decided that in order to move on and close things I need to let it be.

Not ignore or push away, but acknowledge and let it be.

#selfcare #healthy #therapy



Perspectives on Street Photography

The Daily Post

Photographers sharing their perspectives on street photography:

Jon Sanwell, Without An H
Hanoi, Vietnam

Shane Francescut, The Weekly Minute
Ottawa, Canada

Stephanie Dandan, Infinite Satori
Traveling in Southeast Asia

Joshi Daniel, Joshi Daniel Photography

Leanne Cole, Leanne Cole Photography
Melbourne, Australia

Stephen McLeod Blythe, All My Friends Are JPEGs
Glasgow, Scotland

Donncha Ó Caoimh, In Photos
Cork, Ireland

Last year, we published posts that touched on street photography: Russ Taylor shared his creative process on photographing people all over the world, and Dominic Stafford talked about documenting the streets of Southeast Asia.

But what is street photography? Over on Photo Theory, John Meehan writes:

What is striking about attempts to define “street photography” is the striking lack of consensus.

On the Nature of Street Photography

Very simply put, some people view street photography as an art form — a genre of documentary in which a photographer captures real life as…

View original post 1,671 more words

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