“Chaos” is one of the words being used to describe the ongoing effects of January’s earthquake in Haiti. On Sunday, Feb. 28 at Camden’s High Mountain Hall, Chaos — and the four other rhythmic energies of 5Rhythms dance practice — will be employed to raise relief funds for Haiti’s earthquake victims.

The 5Rhythms “Love to Haiti” moving meditation/dance event will run from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at High Mountain Hall on Mountain Street/Route 52. The suggested donation is $10 to $20, all of which will go to Partners In Health, which has been providing medical care in Haiti for more than 20 years.

5Rhythms, sometimes called ecstatic dance, was developed by Gabrielle Roth at Esalen in the late 1960s. Roth has long since relocated to New York state and her moving meditation practice has gone global, particularly in the last couple of decades. Maine currently has three 5Rhythm teachers: Anna Witholt-Abaldo of Lincolnville; Kari Luehman of Camden; and Sarah Wilde of Walpole. Although Midcoast-based, they lead “tribes,” as groups of dancers call themselves, all around the state, and many of those dancers are expected to take part in the fundraiser.

Roth defined five rhythms or energies that reflect human experience and developed a dance practice that strings them together into “waves.” The waves begin in Flow and progress through Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness. There is no choreography, no right or wrong way to move; instructors guide dancers in being aware of their bodies, the music (recorded or live drumming) and surroundings. Dancers may explore what comes up for them emotionally or focus purely on the physical.

“The practice is first about self and then about the people around you. This event [5Rhythms ‘Love to Haiti’] ripples out to the larger community,” said Witholt-Abaldo, who grew up in the Netherlands and was introduced to 5Rhythms there while in college.

“I was majoring in psychology at the time and was frustrated by the lack of soul,” she said.

She attended a dance workshop led by a woman she describes as a dancer, psychologist and artist, a dance workshop that explored emotions.

“It was all there — anger, sadness, passion — all energy in motion,” she said. “I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

“The people who fall in love with it really fall in love with it,” said Luehman, who was introduced to 5Rhythms at a birthday party in Belfast. In attendance was Wilde and, while the event was not officially a class, its many 5Rhythms dancers led a wave in celebration.

“After it was all over, I said, what was that? I didn’t know right away I wanted to teach it, but I knew I wanted to dance it,” she said.

Witholt-Abaldo and Luehman teach a weekly class in Camden that draws dancers from as far away as Ellsworth and Bar Harbor and Tenants Harbor. The Midcoast women also teach classes in Lewiston/Auburn, Whitefield and occasionally in Bangor and Bar Harbor and at the Belfast Dance Studio. Wilde teaches classes in Bath, Portland and Damariscotta. They all sometimes lead out-of-state workshops. Gail Edgerly, a fourth teacher affiliated with Maine5Rhythms, currently lives and teaches in Alaska.

That reach reflects what is happening to the practice worldwide, as 5Rhythm tribes are spreading from the United States and Europe to Japan, Africa, Australia, South America and more. The Feb. 28 benefit is part of a challenge the Victoria, Canada tribe made to its counterparts to use the dance practice as a way to respond to the need in Haiti.

As Luehman describes the moving meditation, each rhythm is a whole field of energy that invites exploration.

“Once you learn the five rhythms, you can use them as a way of looking at the world around you and place them on top of anything like cooking a meal or giving birth,” she said. “It’s more than the music and something you do once a week.”

Witholt-Abaldo said what she finds really heartening about the work is that it takes away judgment about movement and just about everything else.

“Stillness is not ‘better’ than Chaos, and Chaos is not less than Flow,” she said. “Everything matters to us in order for life to be alive.”

Dancer Judith Simpson of Belfast agreed, saying “5Rhythms has given me the free and accepting energy to move my body to music in more ways than I’d ever imagined that it could be moved.”

The news from Haiti arouses a whole range of emotional responses and 5Rhythms “Love to Haiti” offers a way to explore and express them physically. The way working with the wave encourages paying attention to the moment at hand is one reason some people say 5Rhythms is therapy wrapped in dance.

“When I walk into a room of seasoned dancers, I find their ability to be present amazing,” said Witholt-Albaldo. “We hold space for each other to go through what we’re going through, and in some ways, I feel like this is what the world is doing for Haiti right now.”

As most people involved in some kind of art — and most Mainers, period — the women hold several jobs in addition to teaching. Witholt-Abaldo runs the gallery of Maine Farmland Trust in downtown Belfast, and both women have young children. In addition to leading their respective tribes, their work together offers each the opportunity to sometimes trade the role of teacher for that of dancer.

“One of the reasons I got into teaching is so I could dance more,” said Luehman.

While there will be many 5Rhythms dancers at the benefit event, it is designed for everyone. Witholt-Abaldo and Luehman will offer a short explanation of 5Rhythms and some suggestions along the way, but they describe the event as more a 5Rhyhms-infused celebration than anything else. The music will be eclectic, drawing on the kind of world fusion recordings they use in the classes. Attendees are asked to wear clothes easy to move in and plan to dance either barefoot or with soft-soled dance footwear.

“As a longtime participant in this form of dance, I appreciate that beginners are always welcome and free to explore how they connect in movement with the music, with gentle guidance,” said Susan Wind of Camden. “Kari and Anna truly provide a safe container for this exploration.”

“We want everyone to feel comfortable in coming,” said Witholt-Abaldo. “The idea is to help people put themselves in motion.”

For more information about 5Rhythms in Maine and elsewhere, including music samples and video clips, visit Maine5rhythms.com and gabrielleroth.com.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.