You don’t have to dance to teach Nia.
I’ve been thinking about this statement for some time now.
I didn’t say you don’t have to move. You don’t have to move all the time. Nor do you have to move only within the structure of routines.
For a brief period of time I was in collaboration with another Nia teacher who is currently unable to teach due to an injury. During much of that time I was only teaching 1 class a week. In the past I did not do well to have so much time between teaching classes. With a week between classes my cueing would be stiff, my imagery uninspired and the choreography a bite rote. During the collaboration when 1-2 conversations anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours might occur, I never experienced the lull, the loss of momentum. If anything, my classes were more colorful and my internal enthusiasm for the process was almost overwhelming and my students very happy with numbers increasing.
We did not talk about Nia routines. We did not talk about technique. We touched on the many principles. What comprised these rich conversations was life; nature, the global economy, the human condition, Nia in the world, healing through connection and how to thrive rather than simply survive. For me, this was Nia.
My teaching changed and continues to change.
Movement Alchemy is a direct result of this collaboration.
This was not dance in the usual sense of the word, but every conversation was a dance. While each and every single conversation sparked overwhelming creativity in me, I did not see the forward movement we were making. I knew I was extremely prolific – I hardly had time to process what was pouring out.
My partner referred to me as the “nuts and bolts” part of the relationship. As someone who has spent my life dreaming and visioning it was the first time I thought of myself in this role. I have to admit, considering myself highly creative and artistic, my ego assigned this as “pedestrian”. Since then I have changed the way I think of myself, my gifts, my strengths and why “nuts and bolts” is absolutely creative and artistic.
I turn concepts into movement.
Then, much like putting together a puzzle, I create a form so that the concepts can be delivered in a coherent way.
For me, it is with minimal talk – I am not a public speaker and I have no desire to become one. Being the human I am, I am acutely and constantly aware of how my body processes life. This makes me unusual. For most, it is thought and a decision that brings movement. Awareness and sensation stems from this (awareness of mind, body, spirit and emotions). For me, it is often the other way around. It was during my repeat of the White Belt intensive that I realized that I sense emotions in my body as sensation before my mind recognizes “it” as anger, sadness, joy, etc. This recent discovery was a gift the scope of which I am still coming to understand. To Ken Gilbert, Stephaney Robinson and Debbie Rosas Stewart, who facilitated this intensive, I am deeply, deeply grateful.
What I understand now is that as teacher I can embody Nia; the Energy Allies, the 52 Moves, the 9 Movement Forms, the routines, the 52 principles, the 5 Stages, the 5 Sensations. I believe that this embodiment is essential to sharing Nia with impeccability. While I will probably spend the rest of my life wading, floating, swimming, though from time to time barely treading water in the 52 principles, I’m seeing beyond.
To be clear, I am in no way implying “seeing beyond just this”. There is no “just” in any part of the work of Nia. This work is not for the faint of heart, mind, spirit or body! It most certainly is a discipline.
Within our collaboration I was invited and I stepped into a much wider scope.
This changed the direction of my life and my work.
I knew there was more; I sensed that in order to create something truly meaningful I would have to remember who I was before I stopped making waves. I would have to remember that I have the gifts, strengths and passions (as quirky, weird or off-center as they may seem) for a reason. I was bullied as a child and teenager, and that created resilience. Laugh, jeer, and get angry and defensive if what I do and say makes you uncomfortable, Change can be unwelcome and difficult. In the end I’m going to remain standing and one of what I hope is many –