I’ll set the scene this way: 14 girls, one guy – the girls wanna dance. Let’s just say the guy can’t dance a lick (this is all hypothetical you understand). The girls don’t care; don’t even notice the two left feet and arrhythmic gyrations. They’re impressed that he’s even there – ability would be gravy. The guy feels the love and out of nowhere he’s back on beat. Awesome! ------ (It’s possible of course that the girls didn’t even notice “the guy”. They wanted to dance all right, just not with “him”. But this is my blog and I can be delusional if I want).
NIA was sort of like that (the awesome part, not the delusional part). It’s free form dancing with a leader demonstrating carefully choreographed moves to pulsating music. If you can match the teacher – great, if not, that’s cool too. In fact, there’s a lot of encouragement to “make it your own”. In that way, getting lost in the music and the moment is kind of the point.
NIA is unique. There’s really nothing quite like it on our schedule nor is it offered elsewhere in town (as far as I know). It’s also challenging to adequately describe what NIA is all about – like some things that are humorous – you just gotta be there.
NIA is the brainchild of Debbie and Carlos Rosas of Portland OR, who developed this technique back in the ‘80’s. The Rosas’ infused their creation with elements of jazz, ballet, modern dance, martial arts, subtle energy work and great music. It was designed, I believe, to accentuate the joy of movement without being overly concerned about the exact form that movement takes.
Sommers Collins a local artist and skilled dancer introduced NIA to Little Rock. She met my sister Katherine and me in the studio one day in the early ‘90’s and demonstrated a class. Before you know it, we had NIA at the LRAC and it’s stayed here for 18 or so years.
My sister, who had a background in teaching traditional aerobics fell in love with NIA and got certified to teach it. For a while, I used to regularly attend her classes. But that was then. I haven’t gone to a NIA class in years but it’s just as fun as I remember it.
One difference between the early days and now is the lighting. These days only the soft yoga lights are on instead of the brighter fluorescents. The darker ambiance facilitates letting go and reducing inhibition; at least it did for me.
Our instructor last night was the vivacious Antoinette Mims. As you might expect, Antoinette can really dance. She also provides lots of energy, encouragement and joy to the class.
Antoinette received her white belt NIA certification in 2005 and has been teaching at the Club for about 3 years. She’s originally from Austin, Texas – having moved to Little Rock four years ago. She said her goal as a NIA instructor “is to help students develop stronger body awareness, acknowledge that exercise can be fun, and leave feeling better than when they walked into the club”.
The $25 gift certificate winner for this class is Insook Kim.
Okay, that’s six down, a whole bunch to go. Next up, 5:45 a.m. Pilates.