5 Rhythms Colombia – Association Maria – photographed & produced by jason goodman

I accompanied my wife, Tammy Burstein, to Bogota, Colombia in November, 2009, where she had been invited to teach a series of 5 Rhythms workshops and events. The first day we went up in the hills above Bogota, to a poor neighborhood called Juan Vente Tres. Everyone seemed to have a transcendent experience – here are Tammy’s reflections on the day:

On November 12, 2009, I was invited, with the help of Carolina Rudas as translator and all around assistant, to lead an afternoon session in Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms® movement meditation practice for the Association Maria, a group of Colombian elders, who meet every Thursday afternoon at the community center in their Juan Vente Tres neighborhood in Bogota, Colombia.

When I was originally invited to teach in Bogota, Carolina had suggested that I might want to do some community service work with displaced persons. I jumped at the chance. Taking the 5Rhythms beyond the expected environment of dance studios and the anticipated groups of primarily younger and more affluent “dancers” is one of Gabrielle’s passions and a deep learning and service for all 5Rhythms teachers.

Carolina arranged for the session with Association Maria. In her words, “One note about elders in Colombia: As you might know by now, Colombia is a very poor country. Although you wont see poverty around much, because there are kind of ghettos were poor people live, others manage to stay away from them and not see them. So we have poor people, people that have fled violence, abandoned children…etc. But according to my believe, and I have worked with many of those communities, the elders are the most forgotten people in Colombia. In general, when somebody is over 60, is considered useless, and is left alone in the family houses, where nobody cares for them. So this is could be a very nice experience, I am sure they would love it and I am sure you would love them!!!”

I never doubted that she was right and so we showed up that Thursday afternoon and danced beyond age, beyond language, and beyond culture, held by the 5Rhythms in the universal language of the heart. Jason, my co-conspiritor (not a typo), traveled with me to Bogota and served as both official videographer and unofficial all around charmer. The above video tells the whole story and I am eternally grateful to him for making this record of our time with the Association Maria possible.

After the session we were discussing the event with two of the organizers/benefactors of the group and found out that they were in the process of finding the funds to provide each member of the group with a Christmas gift of warm hat, gloves and scarf. Jason suggested that the donation from a 5Rhythms charitable event that I hold every Thanksgiving be awarded to the Association Maria and I agreed heartily. If you would like to join in contributing to warming up Christmas for this beautiful tribe of dancing elders please email Tammy.