Dancing Human: Rebekah Zhuraw
Thursday, August 10, 2017
By The Philly Tribe
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Rebekah Zhuraw

Lambertville, NJ


In what year was your first class with The Philly Tribe?



What was your relationship to dance/movement before taking class with The Philly Tribe?

I was a dance-on-the-tables young woman. If there was dancing, I found my way to it. If there wasn’t, I initiated it. This phase lasted a good long time. When my daughter Shakti was born, something broke loose in me—a river of love, and a need to move with it. A friend took me to Group Motion—I fell in love, leaping and rolling and playing in the arms of others, but I was yearning for more. And there I met Rivi Diamond who asked, “Is there any 5Rhythms here?” I said I wasn’t sure, asking her to describe it, and she simply answered, “Oh, you’d know!” Rivi began to organize 5Rhythms workshops. This was the birth of the Philly Tribe, and I have never looked back!


What keeps you coming back to class regularly?

Running it all and teaching is a good part of it! But really, it’s my heart and soul. I’m an intellectual, a professor, and a poet. I need this to be grounded, healthy, happy, and sane!


In what ways does this dance practice influence or inspire your non-dancing life?

In every way. The body doesn’t lie. Learning to trust this has opened every door. I have become more aware, more clear, a better teacher, a better mother, a better lover, a better friend, and a better human being. Through dance, I softened my heart, sharpened my skills, and learned to believe in my vision and see it through.


Tell us about a specific Philly Tribe class or workshop that you thought was especially powerful.

A lot of my experience is now from the perspective of a teacher, so I will share some of this journey. A transformational class for me was our Medicine Dance in January 2016. It was a class held in support of a tribe-member. Ray Diaz came down from NYC, and we led the class together. His support was crucial. The tribe—those dancing for our friend and those dancing for others—was crucial. The practice of moving with what is was crucial. A channel opened inside me during that class and I wept openly. I came into alignment that day in the chaos and grief and washed myself clean. I simply was myself. This may sound like an anti-climax, but I have held the goal of being the same person in every room I enter and this was the moment that I can say this happened.


Is there anything you’d like your fellow classmates to know about your dance-floor personality, preferences, or quirks?

As a teacher, I don’t get a lot of time to dance, and even when I am not teaching I’m producing, which means I have to keep one ear to the room and the other to the music, so I don’t linger in partnerships long.


Tell us a little about your current life off the dance floor.

I’m a poet, a full-time university professor, a single mom, and the youngest daughter of parents in their 90s. I have a green thumb, two dogs—Oz and Xena—and a very sweet little house in the countryside that I enjoy pouring my love into. I maintain one foot on both sides of the Delaware River, crossing it many days a week for work and play and tubing down it all summer long.


Is there anything else you’d like to share—personal accomplishments, struggles, epiphanies, questions or stand-out life experiences that have helped shaped who you are today?

My father is Jewish, my mother Catholic, and by some alchemy of the two, I was raised Quaker. I have studied under many spiritual teachers, including a hermetic Quabalist for 14 years. I have a PhD in folklore from The University of Pennsylvania. My dissertation is on magic. I have spent much of my life in advocacy for others. Currently I serve that role for my parents. I have lived many lives already in this one. I grew up in a historic house on a dirt road, mothered by ghosts and the spirit of the land. I left thinking I would never return, but I have returned, and I feel fulfilled. I’ve wintered in Maine and lived a year in a rural fishing village in Mexico. I’ve been a photographer’s model, a radio producer, a magazine writer, an ethnographic transcriptionist, and a vegetarian chef. I’ve been struck down and humbled many times in large and small ways, and I’ve been in love many times, for which I feel blessed.