TaKeTiNa is a rhythm process, much like a rhythm meditation, but with laughter, flow, and chaos mixed in. A drummer keeps a steady beat in the center, and a facilitator invites the participants to say syllables with the rhythm, then adds steps, then claps.
The movements and sounds are sometimes on the beat, and sometimes off, so it can feel a lot like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time.
The Sing Portland choir were all first-time participants in the workshop, and comprised of men and women of various ages, including a young girl.
Mary invited them into a circle, and talked about TaKeTiNa as a space to encourage curiosity and self-reflection, not judgement.
Initially, the movements and syllables seem simple – one man referenced Karate Kid, saying “I feel a little bit like Mr Miyagi is telling me I have to just keep waxing the car!”
But as the rhythms started to demand more of everyone’s concentration, many began to fall out of rhythm, which is part of the process. One participant described it by saying “it’s definitely impossible not to get thrown off, but then you look over and see [our teacher] Marion is off too and you’re like ‘Yes!’”
Joyful Emotional Roller Coaster
It can be a very emotional experience. One woman said, “It brought out emotions I didn’t even know were there.” Another man reflected, “It was like finding the rhythm of my life, just kind of where I belong, where I come in, and what’s happening, and I think I’ve lost that.”
But one of the essential parts of TaKeTiNa (and life!) is to laugh at ourselves and with each other. Mary makes this easy by her talent for exaggerated movement, and purposefully throwing people off. Yet it’s very clear that the intention is joyful. A lady commented, “I love watching you dance and jump. Every single time I’m like ‘I can do this, I can do this’ and then I get thrown out. Yeah, I had fun with losing myself.”
A young woman praised Mary’s instructions as “very inspirational. I’ve always found polyrhythym, personally to be fairly challenging – it’s like a matter of trusting myself to maintain something in my body, and leaving my brain….[seeing Mary,] I want to be teaching groups and be a master of polyrhythm!"
The group started out in a circle one row deep, pushing the limits of the room. But after they became more comfortable in moving together, they formed clusters and multiple rows formed.
Instead of each as an individual, there came a sense of community space, as one woman commented:
“I really enjoyed the feeling of the group together.
I noticed that I didn’t feel like my space was just near me, it’s a much bigger space.”