Tai Chi takes many forms, as it did on Sunday morning, February 3, at a small dance studio next to the Carnival Flea Market in Delray Beach. People from Miami to Stuart came to join in this event, called Ecstatic Dance. It is not billed as tai chi, but tai chi exercise took place.
Tai chi is a systematic movement approach to make us stronger, better, happier, more balanced in the mind and is billed that (not that there are droves of people needing to label it at all). We move our bodies in graceful, wave-like motion to relax the joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones in order to relax the mind.
Because tai chi is a method of living obtained by doing the movements, its principles can fit into many scenarios, including dance of all kinds. That's what happened this past Sunday with Ecstatic Dance.
There was continual music, usually hovering between 100 and 115 beats per minute. These rhythms drove the participants to move in their own individually created non-patterned and free movements, conscious of self but not self-conscious in the negative way it has been referred to in the past several decades.
The reason movements are initially instructed in tai chi is so that people have a framework in which to learn principles of martial arts. Once this movement becomes familiar, it looks like almost nothing. Although the participants at this Ecstatic Dance did not seem to be doing martial arts movements, those of us who have studied tai chi combined our tai chi, foremost a martial art, and the dance.
Many people were moving their arms and legs in ways that were akin to the formal tai chi movements that are taught. The freedom that every tai chi practitioner looks to achieve was present in everyone who danced with freedom. This seemed to be everyone.
Included in the group and learning freedom were all kinds of movers, those who are comfortable and those who were getting comfortable. There was also a 2-year-old who was having the time of her life. This free type of movement taught at any age teaches openness and confidence rather than inhibition.
Tai chi turning into Ecstatic Dance was a remarkable experience, not only for me, but for each smiling face that danced for 90 minutes straight. The true, always evolving nature of tai chi was alive and well at this event.