As I penned the title for this piece, my mind could not help but drift to the characteristic pelvic initiation for the casual, social dancing of my Barbadian island home. Visitors to the island are bemused as they observe the way locals translate music into a variety of movements, all of which seem to originate somewhere in the pelvis. The real entertainment starts when they attempt to replicate these motions, which have their roots in the dances which travelled across the ocean, bound and shackled, four hundred years ago, and which now are the ultimate expression of freedom, frolic and fun in the sun . For a real initiation into the world of Bajan dance forms, we will have to meet in person, preferably on the shores of the Caribbean sea, but for now, I would like to invite you to experiment with dropping your awareness into your pelvis and allowing the weight and subtle shifts in position to initiate your movement through space.
Stand as close to a neutral alignment as possible, and perhaps close your eyes as you place the palm of your hand on your sacrum. Really hug the back of your pelvis, allowing the heel of your palm to rest firmly on the top of your sacrum, all the fingers to spread wide across bone and muscle, and the middle finger to curve down the line toward the tip of your tail bone. Exert a gentle but distinct pressure down and forward on the diagonal, as if you were trying to connect with your pubic bone. Exert some pressure, then release and repeat, and observe the effect this has on the entire body. Feel how this small motion is translated up through the spine to disturb the position of the ribcage, shoulders and head, and down through the legs to affect the distribution of weight across the soles of the feet. Play with increasing the pressure on the back of the pelvis until you are forced to take a step, and then another and another. It might be a good idea to open your eyes now so as to avoid colliding with any furniture or innocently slumbering pets!
Make sure that you never lose contact between the palm of the hand and the back of the pelvis. Each step forward is initiated by the pressure on the sacrum and inspired by the subtle shift in position of the pelvis. As you continue to walk, keep communicating a sense of weight and ease from the pelvis, through the joints of the legs and feet, and into the earth. Balance this with a feeling of ease and lightness through the spine, torso and head. Once you have settled into the deliciousness of this new way of moving through space, experiment with this initiation as you move across the floor in ballet class. As your movements become larger and/or faster, it is a little more efficient to play this game with a partner, whose hand provides the pressure on the sacrum, but even as a game of solitaire you can discover a new sense of freedom in your movement as you temps levé, chassé pas de bourré, glissade and grands jeté from your core. Have fun with this, and I hope we can experiment with it in person, in a studio, sometime ‘soon’!