By Jaime Tam
As an ethnic dancer, belly dancer, African dancer and yogi, I have learned much about the extraordinary power we carry in our hips and our pelvic floor. It is when we become fully submerged with a physical discipline that we learn so much about our own body knowledge, kinesthetics, and just how powerful it is to move energy.
Moving our hips in a circular motion and exploring pelvic tilts, shimmies and sways awaken our innate primal energy. This movement helps release toxins, frees up anxiety, and can also orchestrate the sound of live percussion as a sense of direction when leading a class or drum circle.
Every Thursday night our studio offers an Expressive Yoga Dance class that is highlighted with the primitive sounds of live percussion, rhythm sticks, and crystal healing bowls for the relaxing meditation at the close of each class. Our drummer friend Joe Montelbano often says “I just follow your hips and they tell me the rhythm I need to play”. The nature of the class is free form, yet guided with creative dance instruction. Both women and men indulge in this class opportunity and together, we awaken our inner fire utilizing sound, dynamic animal movements, barefoot dancing, and a whole lot of hip action!
My most sacred experience while dancing with live percussionists was an evening where several artists had been displaying paintings inside a cozy lounge-type setting here in Las Vegas. There was an inspiring energy in the air, lots of live music, and a fabulous group of drummers in a circle reaching these waves of ecstatic energy with one another.
I was drawn to the musical circle and dove right into the sound bath of rhythm. I began to dance, to let go, loosen and undulate, feel the music, and dance inside the music. Together the dance and the live percussion wove a bridge of pure harmony; it felt as though each movement had been choreographed, yet we were only improvising and simply exploring while having fun. As time passed it seemed as though a trance state came over us and we continued to express ourselves through movement and sound.
It was then that I had been drawing slow circles through space with my hips in sync with the tempo and flow of all ten drummers. It was like a slow trance movement, yet the music streamed faster like a deep droning sound, calming everyone in the room. Other dancers became engaged outside the circle and the energetic journey progressed. It was a very powerful feeling I experienced that evening, dancing in the very center of the drum circle almost guiding the percussion with the direction my hips would move.
Just then something fascinating happened. I suddenly changed the direction of my dance. My hips had been circling to the right for a few steady moments along with the movement of my hands, fingers and ribcage. When I rotated my hips in the opposite direction the sound of the 10 drummers in trance state instantly disengaged and turned into the sound of a warped record playing in reverse motion. All the parts collided and tumbled into a very brief moment of silence. After a short moment of hesitation, the drums picked right back up and a new rhythm was created, just like that.
We laughed for a bit as we all found our way back in motion and on track. The drum circle went on and on that evening and everyone enjoyed it. I had walked away later on remembering that very special moment, the transition that had been dictated by the power of my hips. I hadn’t been so aware until that night that the power we carry in our hips is like our creative life force, a pulse of fire that is so very powerful! It was an incredible sensation and I realize now that we all carry that same primitive power in our hips, we just need to tap into it and bring it to life.
I later learned from a few midwives during a pre-postnatal training that women preparing for birth are highly recommended to keep that circular movement alive in the hips and best done to the sounds of percussion or getting real earthy, like gardening outdoors to good music. I soak in that advice now, as I am pregnant with my first child and dancing my way through all the emotions and joys of the full experience. I also very much cherish my ability to enjoy a therapeutic massage regularly in my Human Touch® massage chair. This combo of dance and massage has been very helpful for me in my pregnancy.