As I turn seventy it is a good time to reflect upon my first year of Nia training which encompasses almost 300 classes/hours of dancing Nia.
I moved to Boulder a year ago after living overseas for many years. My immediate discovery was Jackie and Marty Diner’s Joy In Motion (JIM) studio right across the street from where I live. What luck! Whereas previous worthy life pursuits had me traveling halfway around the world or at least to distant cities by public transport, karma now granted me this precious gift of a magnificent practice studio right in front of my face and body.
Of course, the beginnings of the practice were not at all that smooth. Indeed, for awhile it was touch and go whether I would continue.
My very first class was a little scary, as I wasn’t used to choreography. I had envisioned myself as a freestyle dancer who just did her own movements. All well and good, but I gradually realized that left to my own devices I would have stayed strictly within my own comfort zone, limiting myself to only non-challenging moves and not being motivated to stretch my capabilities.
Because of the choreography and lots of encouragement from Jackie, I started to move body parts which hadn’t moved in decades, particularly my upper body. Who knew that there were so many joints and muscles and sinews yearning to be free! This realization led me right to the “love your body” philosophy and the joy of movemen. It was further strengthened by the mind-blowing, expansive White Belt training I took with the marvelous Jackie after a few months of regular Nia classes. It is one thing to be told about a particular philosophy but quite another to learn to experience and embody it wholeheartedly.
Oh yes, then there is creeping and crawling. The other issue I had to address on my Nia self-discovery journey was my relationship to floor play. Floor work was more like it.
I really had trouble at the beginning getting down on the floor and getting up from it. The whole concept of changing levels was dizzying. A couple of years ago I participated in a weeklong dance program of a different modality. I was shocked (shocked!) to see how other participants immediately started rolling around and crawling on the floor to warm up before the dance class even started. Not me, I thought. My joints and bones were just too angular to do all that bending and torsion. And also, I had a great aversion to rolling around on hard, dirty floors. I had never done it (not even as a child) and I sure wasn’t going to start in my mature years!
The picture of Vala is one of 100 images of Nia dancers in a series titled: Emotions In Motion by Bruce Thayer.
(The entire Emotions in Motion photo show traveled to StudioNia Santa Fe last month, and will be at StudioNia Houston in April.)