Breaking New Ground on a Global Dance Floor: How I became the first Nia teacher in Beirut, Lebanon
By: Junaline Bañez-Moussi | October 4, 2013
I discovered Nia early 2012 on a late night Youtube watching spree. What I saw amazed me: movement that was easy, joyful, flowing and synchronized, drawn from the martial arts, healing arts and dance arts. I live in Lebanon where, at the time, there were no Nia classes. It made me think how someday I wanted to take a Nia class.
Months passed and I forgot about Nia. I went to Greece to join the Awakening Women’s Institute for their annual women’s leadership training. I met Fedra Fox Cubeddu a Nia teacher from Italy. Already a yoga devotee, my rediscovery of joyful movement and dancing was ignited. As I got to know Fedra, and observed her moving ‘her body’s way’ in our free dance exercises, I returned to Lebanon more intrigued about Nia. My body, through dance and through movement, began calling me back to the dancefloor.
During my annual family visit to Canada, I took The Nia White Belt Training in Sammamish, Washington with Nia Faculty Trainer, Randee Fox. Having no prior Nia experience I was pleasantly surprised and inspired by the thirteen White Belt Principles. It felt like home. Through Nia, I felt at home with my body. Music, movement and magic intertwined in a beautiful alchemy of somatic awareness, sensory pleasure, self-healing and expanded consciousness. The White Belt Training enabled me to deepen and get to know Nia first hand, as they say in Zen, with a “beginner’s mind.” I had no expectations. I was simply there to learn something that my spirit was asking me to do.
I returned to Lebanon and rented a studio where I could dance, practice and get confident in how to teach Nia, practicing rigorously to the Nia Teacher DVDs. I thought, “I love this so much it would be a shame if I was the only person in Lebanon dancing Nia alone.” Fueled by a calling to share Nia, I signed up for The Nia Green Belt Training, four months after my White Belt Training, with Nia Faculty Trainer, Ann Christiansen. There I found the tools to deliver the promise of Nia.
In February 2013, I presented a successful Introduction to Nia Playshop & Class in Beirut, my first foray into the art of teaching Nia. The Lebanese and expatriate community enjoyed their first Nia experience.
I now teach weekly Nia classes in Beirut. Recently I was interviewed on the popular Lebanese network LBC (live broadcast from Lebanon to the rest of the Middle East/Gulf region) where I talk about the benefits and joy of Nia. They even showed taped segments of my class. After that interview I received calls from ladies wanting me to teach Nia in their cities/villages all over Lebanon. I never expected it would turn out like this, but I guess if my joy is apparent, then everybody wants to be a part of it.
I love the joy of empowering and inspiring others to move and heal their bodies and their lives. Most of all, I am loving Nia for the joy it is bringing to my mind, body and spirit, so I can pass it on in everything I do.