After tallying the votes, we're thrilled to announce Dana Hood is the 2011 Nia Teacher of the Year. This award reflects both a dedication to the Nia practice and a strong community of students who have been personally moved by that commitment.

Located in Denver, Colorado, Dana is a Black Belt certified Nia teacher who has loved dance since she was a child. After her first Nia class in 2006, Dana knew she had discovered a new path to pleasurable fitness. She fell in love with how Nia encourages fun and energetic movement with self-expression, while also emphasizing creativity, conditioning, community, spirit, acceptance and love for the body just as it is. 

It is Dana's passion to create powerful, expressive and healing movement experiences. Students in her classes discover a new and fun way to move, sweat, heal, tone, balance and stretch the body, mind and spirit.

As Jenel says, "Denver is a thriving Nia community and Dana Hood has made it that way. Beyond the incredible classes she offers almost every day, she has been the first teacher in the area to create a sense of community. She is always putting together jams, events and workshops. Last fall she spent hours of her time mentoring and coaching a group of thirteen White Belt graduates who had never taught a class, to bring them to a place of readiness. The event she did at the studio I attend gave all the funds to charity and many White Belts grads who would have never had the courage to teach are now teaching because of her. She is definitely a perfect person to win this award."

Kathryn shares, "Dana so embodies what a Nia teacher can be! She has devoted so much of her time to encouraging new White Belt graduates to teach..... giving freely. She definitely walks the walk! 

Mark explains, "I have often felt uncomfortable being the only man in a Nia class. Her class is the first that not only made we feel welcome, but also motivated. She has an excellent mix of masculine and feminine [energy]. She is dynamic and fun."

KL says, "I was big into Zumba and had never heard of Nia. Then one evening, Dana was a sub for my Zumba class and she introduced me to Nia with a routine called Aya. I will never forget that night or any of the details because it changed my relationship with my body forever.  Before then didn't realize I could dance and get a great workout with awareness. My knee often hurt after Zumba, which never happens now. Since then I have been doing Nia at least 2-3 times a week. I take from other teachers as well, but Dana remains my favorite. Her energy and enthusiasm brings me back again and again. She has an ability to not only bring people to try Nia, but to also keep them coming." 

Nia Co-Creator Debbie Rosas adds, "Congratulations, Dana. I am honored to celebrate you as Teacher of the Year! Your ability to share yourself, gifts and talents through Nia has touched many, and I have no doubt this is only the beginning. You reflect my vision beautifully: Nia teachers inspiring, educating and motivating people to change their bodies and lives! Enjoy this special moment of recognition."