The taxeem – a vertical figure-eight with the hips – is one of the first movements you learn when you step into an ATS® bellydance class, and it is a step that you will continue to work on, perfect, and deepen throughout your dance career.
And it just feels good. I could taxeem for hours. It loosens up my back and gets me in touch with my dantian or hara – the energetic center of the body, where some traditions believe vital energy originates. It’s a great mindfulness meditation, and allows me to slow down my breathing and become more present in my body. The slower you go, the more meditative the step becomes.
And you can do it anywhere. I’ve been known to taxeem while at my office job (I have a standing desk) or while brushing my teeth, or standing in line at the grocery store.
The magic of the taxeem is in the near-total weight shift that isn’t driven from your feet or knees, but rather from your core. The “empty” hip (the down hip, which is on the unweighted leg) lifts with no help from the knees – it floats up. And once it’s floated to the top, the leg underneath it stabilizes and strengthens so that the other leg can empty out, and the other hip can release downward.
Catch that? The magic of the taxeem happens in three phases: the float, stabilizing the float, and releasing the opposite side.
(If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may see a pattern developing here – go have a look at my meditation on the shimmy if you don’t know what I’m talking about.)
This is just like improv dance, right? We need a stable structure or framework so we can release into it and just have fun. It’s relaxing to dance improvisationally within a structure – without the structure, it’s just flailing, and we develop (or at least I develop) anxiety about where we’re supposed to be and what we’re supposed to do in a group setting. With the structure, the group enters into a shared agreement, and everyone feels safer.
Follow along with Sandi in this sweet taxeem drill.