Layah Jane Singer-Wilson

Layah is an award-winning Folk/Soul singer-songwriter, and a certified teacher of 5Rhythms® movement.

Music and movement have woven their way all through Layah's life. She currently makes her life as a teacher, dancer and musician, in the creative urban hub of Toronto, and in a corner of Eastern Ontario's beautiful wilderness, though happily follows the call of far-off stages and dance floors too.

In the realm of music, Layah has recorded 6 Folk/Soul albums for indie label Grace Note Records, and has performed across North America in festivals, concerts, and showcases since 2005.

Awards include: The Ottawa Blues Fest's Best Emerging Female Artist (2011), Ontario Arts Council/Ontario Council of Folk Festival’s Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award Shortlist (2009), an Ontario Independent Music Award for Best Female Artist (2008), and Best Folk (2007), a Toronto Independent Music Award for Best Jazz (2006), a CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award (2005), and an Ontario Council of Folk Festivals’ Best Political songwriting award (2005).

Performance highlights include: The Ottawa Blues Fest, ON, Rochester International Jazz Fest, NY, Falcon Ridge Folk Fest Emerging Artist Showcase, NY, Shelter Valley Folk Festival, ON, Ontario Council of Folk Festivals Official Showcase, ON, Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Formal Showcase, NY, Canadian Music Week, ON, Toronto City Roots Festival, ON, North By Northeast, ON, Blue Skies Music Festival, ON, New Music West, BC, and the Ottawa Folk Festival, ON.

In the realm of dance, Layah has delighted in creative movement since childhood, and has a background in Contemporary Dance, Ballet, Eurythmy, and Continuum Movement. Layah first fell for 5Rhythms as a teenager, and since 2009, has followed her love of the practice across North America, Central America, and Europe. Layah was trained and certified as a 5Rhythms teacher in 2013-2014. Layah is accredited with the 5Rhythms Teachers Association, an associate member of the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association. Movement mentors include Gabrielle Roth, Jonathan Horan, Lucia Horan, Adam Barley, Mia Borodacz, and Taeji (5Rhythms), Kathy Altman (Open Floor), and Kim Brodey (Continuum Movement).

With heARTSpace productions, Layah offers children’s music, art, and creative movement classes and camps, and produces 5Rhythms workshops with visiting certified teachers of the 5Rhythms movement practice. Passionate about offering dancers sacred space to experience music and motion as medicine, Layah has taught expressive arts and has led all-ages freestyle dance gatherings in Toronto since co-founding the non-profit organization, The Move Dance Collective, in 2003. A regular DJ at Toronto’s conscious dance hubs, The Move, and Ecstatic Dance Toronto, Layah says: “the musical offerings I make are those that rock my own heart, move my soul, and make me sweat, be it a funky groove, a soulful melody, or a big thumping tribal beat.”

Informed, inspired and nourished by the natural world, ritual, making music, Waldorf education, and holistic medicine, off the dance floor and off the stage, Layah is a graduate of the Canadian College of Homeopathic Medicine, a lover of local food and “jazz” (improv) cooking, an urban farmer-in-training, an eldest daughter, a sister, a wife, and a hearty lover of life.

Music and dance called me, and claimed me early on in life.

Born at home in Toronto, on the hottest day of July in 1982, I am the eldest daughter of a poet/creative writing teacher mother, and a musician/psychotherapist father. My childhood was steeped in the expressive healing arts. Handmade art decorated our walls. Living room dance parties abounded. When we were young, my sister and I would create and perform hand-spun and hearty musical theater fairy tales, for our parents and their friends.

I read somewhere once that the seeds of who a child is, and who they may become, are planted in their play...
Their callings, revealed.

I never would have known at that time, how music and dance would weave their way to the heart of my life.

Curious to know more about how my musical and movement paths converged?

You can find more of my story here.


5Rhythms movement Testimonials

"What an incredible dance and music journey! I feel light, free and released today. You are such a loving, tender and strong present guide, Layah. I loved dancing with so many dear dancing friends and the bright embodied spirits that I've never met before in the circle of rhythm."

"...It was my first time dancing ever and not knowing what to expect, I had a fabulous time letting go of my inhibitions in what felt as a safe and loving environment, expressing myself completely through body movement...It felt as if spirit was guiding me into a wonderful meditation and art of being present in my own body…"

"...Thank you so much dear Layah for gifting me with this precious time to dance with you. What a warm, open space you held for us tonight; great music;   beautiful altar.  Ah, what a treat for my tight body to just surrender to your voice, your music and the beautiful community of dancing souls.  Wow."  

"Wow! What a delicious end to the day...What a deeply moving and transformative experience. I feel complete, emptied and blissfully post-orgasmic. Thank you Layah Jane! Masterful perfection."

"Wow.... what a wave! It was a gentle ride through my body's deep space, through my presence in the room, through other's outer spaces, into my inner space, up to the ether and down to my feet planted firmly on the ground. I am ecstatic to form a new relationship with music, movement and mindfulness. Thank you Layah for facilitating such a beautiful experience...”

"Oh my goodness Layah, that was SO delicious tonight, thank you so much....You are so encouraging and supportive, and provide a very receptive and open container; a great one to do work within.”

"Tonight I danced with my edges and expanded a little more. Thank you Layah Jane for holding such sweet sacred space. 5Rhythms waves are my medicine!"

"Layah has a very welcoming warm presence that helped me feel comfortable and open to being vulnerable. She answered all my questions with a great depth of understanding. She has a very nurturing presence and so it was easy to take risks. She holds the space very well."

"Fabulously skillful facilitating. Insightful and poignant comments always both during dance and debriefs."

"I appreciate your delicious direct and warm-hearted encouragement for all of us. I felt so welcomed by you, Layah. Your demonstrations are always heartfelt and they gave me a colourful palette of moves to choose from. They also come at at the right moment to help understand the nature of a rhythm."

"It was amazing to watch Layah move and feel her strength and affirmation of personhood in and through movement - the claiming of space and gentle/fierce connection with body was particularly inspiring and validating for me. She created a space where any movement was valid, created gentle reminders and challenges for us to both go deeper and claim space for and into ourselves."

"I appreciate your grounding, inspiring, heart filled presence and the invitations you always offer us to feel ourselves deeply through the 5 rhythms. You so sensitively responsd to the energy of all of us."

"Layah is amazing. I feel so safe with her. I feel called to her as a teacher. The space she offers allows me to feel empowered in my exploration. She opens the door, and invites you to step in, but she won't step in for you. I just absolutely love her teaching style."

"Layah, you are a thoughtful and skilled teacher who models compassion and creativity. You use very accessible language to explain what I (we) needed to know in the moment - not too much, not too little. Also your encouragement and suggestions make it possible for all participants to find their own unique voice through the 5Rhythms process. You are a deep listener. It helps tremendously that you model "the ways of 5Rhythms" through your own movement by participating & demonstrating. I look forward to more."

"Layah inspires movement with her breath, her wholly committed body, and her musical selections. She is also a diligent listener, taking in what is said, taking a breath with it, and responding from her gut with what she knows. She neither rushes in nor assumes, and at the same time is clear about setting limitations and expectations. She is a talented facilitator with lots of heart."

"You are a pleasure to watch and engage with Layah- you live and breathe the rhythms in a way that conveys wordlessly the essence of the practice. This is very humbling and wonderful to see. Thank you!"

“It was an absolute pleasure to be guided and supported by your expansive and nourishing energy throughout the workshop last night. I am still basking in the delight of discovering dimensions of dance and myself that I had only dreamed of knowing prior to yesterday. Thank you for leading me to exactly where I needed to be right now in my movement journey! SO much gratitude.”

5Rhythms FAQ's

Q. I'm new to 5Rhythms. What can I expect at my first class?
A. First-off, "welcome!" Classes often start with some time to warm up, with minimal verbal instruction. Just stretch, roll on the floor, walk around the room, or learn from how other dancers are warming up, until there’s enough happening around you to feel comfortable beginning your own warm-up. Please feel welcome to go to Layah and tell her you’re new tonight. It’s totally normal to feel self- conscious! It will pass. You’ll see :-)

In each class, there will probably be people with a wide range of experience in the 5Rhythms - from first-timers to old-timers. You are different every time you walk into the room, so is the group, and so is the teacher, so each class holds completely unique possibilities. Don’t worry about understanding intellectually what’s happening at all times - just keep moving your feet and let the rest follow.

Q. Do you have some tips for newcomers?
1. Go at your own pace.
2. Be responsible for your own body (stay aware of injuries and limitations).
3. Keep your eyes open and stay aware of others.
4. Dance barefoot or in dance shoes only - socks are too slippery.
5. Move how you feel and stay open to this changing moment to moment.
6. Know that everything alive has a dance, and your only task is to find and express yours.
7. Enjoy yourself! This is freedom in motion. Have fun!

Q. What is the difference between classes and workshops?
A. Classes are short-format Waves sessions, the foundational 5Rhythms map, that occur on a regular (generally weekly) schedule and typically last for 2 hours. Classes are open to anyone from newcomers to long-time practitioners of any age or physical condition unless otherwise noted in the class listing. Workshops are longer-format events (from half-day to multiple days) that explore one or more of the 5Rhythms maps (Waves, Heartbeat, Cycles, Mirrors, etc.) providing an opportunity for in-depth study. Attendance at workshops may require prerequisites of a certain number of hours of, or previous attendance at, other 5Rhythms classes or workshops. Layah is trained in the Waves map of the 5Rhythms work, so all workshops with her, are based in the Waves level. Layah produces workshops with visiting 5Rhythms teachers, and some of these workshops are rooted in the other 5Rhythms maps.

Q. Do I need experience or some minimum level of fitness?
A. No experience or level of fitness is required to begin your 5Rhythms practice.

Q. I have/had an injury. Can I still do 5Rhythms?
A. The 5Rhythms is a simple and flexible practice that can be experienced by anyone regardless of their physical limitations. Because there is no specific “routine” to follow, you will be able to participate at your own pace, within your own capacity to move.

Q. What happens in a 5Rhythms class?
A. While every class is different each class will provide basic instruction in the 5Rhythms, whether that is the full Wave (the 5Rhythms in sequence) or focusing on one or another of the rhythms and its energies. There will be a warm-up period (often uninstructed but may include facilitation), a teaching, and exercises for exploring the teaching. Teachers may use a variety of different kinds of music, or no music at all, to support embodying the rhythms. There may be a combination of individual, partnered, and group work. Some classes are more structured than others but all classes provide the opportunity to be moved by and with the 5Rhythms.

Q. What do I need to bring to a 5Rhythms class?
A. Please dress comfortably in clothing that you don’t mind sweating in and that allows you a full range of motion. You may want to bring a cover-up so you don’t get cold, and/or a small towel to dry off with. We dance bare-footed or in light-soled dance shoes (athletic shoes/trainers are not allowed on the dance floor). Bring a bottle of water and your curiosity. That’s all you need.

Q. What if I’m REALLY terrified?
A. First of all, take to heart that the 5Rhythms practice has the room for you to move with however you’re feeling. There’s nothing to get right and you can’t get it wrong so there is nothing for you to “do” except move in whatever way feels right in the moment. You will not be the first person to be so terrified that you just barely made it over the threshold of the door. Once in the room you will be encouraged to move to your full potential and I also give space to move into your potential from wherever you are. Lastly, if it feels like it would help you, I invite you to call or email me and communicate about any of your questions, or concerns.

Q. How much does it cost?
A. Most 5Rhythms classes cost what an average yoga class would cost. Check the individual class and workshop listings for the specific cost of the classes/workshops you are interested in attending.