For the first time, I’m taking back-to-back classes. After finishing Breezy’s yoga class I stick around to dance with the Nia-phytes. There are others who like this double as well. The two classes while significantly different nonetheless complement each other.
Nia, in a word, is dancing. At its most basic level the steps are doable, even for a clodhopper like me. However, like most classes there are multiple levels attainable. So, if you really know how to dance, the basic steps turn into something elegant and beautiful. There’s a real flourish possible for each move that the “good” dancers seem to effortlessly manifest.
The cool thing is, nobody seems to care that vastly different skill levels are sharing the same space. Folks are just having a good time. It’s really all about, the music, the movement and in the process some pretty great exercise.
I would guess that most members don’t really know what the heck Nia is - even though it’s been at the Club for over 15 years. Unless you’ve seen it or done it, you may have the wrong idea about Nia.
Nia means “movement with purpose” in Swahili and the official slogan for Nia is “the joy of movement”. This discipline is based on three movement modalities; dance, martial arts and healing arts. As I told Susan last night, when I think of the movements as aikido (something I practiced for many years) they become more accessible to me than “dance” where I have only the slimmest of backgrounds.
This evening’s instructor is Susan Sell-Garrett, who teaches the bulk of the Nia classes offered at the Club. Susan earned her Nia license ten years ago, almost the same time she started working full-time at the LRAC in our Membership Office.
You can bet your booty that Susan can dance. She adds flourish to each move and makes them really fun and beautiful to watch. A lot of that ‘icing’ to my eye is an innate sense of rhythm and an ability to move the hips in a way that mine seemingly cannot. I’m not saying it’s not possible for me - just something with which I am not familiar. Between Nia and Zumba I’ll keep getting practice so who knows, maybe there will be an Elvisian breakthrough one day.
One thing that occurred to me during class was how much teachers have to practice to offer an hour of choreographed movements. For instance, last night’s routine was a new one for Susan. That means, she received a new DVD from the Nia folks, which she then had to watch, learn and teach to all of us without pause for an hour. Yikes! Her skill at cuing made the moves immediately accessible to us. I was amazed at how quickly most of the class caught on.
Attendance was strong with more than twenty folks in class. There were two other guys (yea!) present who I learned were regulars and like everyone else, seemed to be having big fun. I’d also like to mention, two of the women who were present; Margaret Hatchett and Priscilla Youngblood. Both Margaret and Priscilla have been coming to Nia on a regular basis since this class started. On the rare occasion when I show up, they are always so sweet and encouraging to me and I love seeing them too.
The $25 gift certificate goes to another long time Nia dancer – Yulonda Wallace. She tells me that the back left corner of the studio is her “real estate” and where she can regularly be found.