Monday, January 25, 2016

2016 Itinerary - a work in progress

It's the time of year when I sit down with maps and sketch out my route for the annual road trip.  This is the seventh year that I have travelled around the USA as a vagabond Nia teacher, and the sixth year that River has accompanied me.

Each year, the scale of the trip has grown, and this year is no exception. It is the most epic and most ambitious schedule I've mapped out yet.  It is still in the planning phase, but today marks the day I overcome the first hurdle, which is drawing up a basic outline. I think I managed to cover all of the cities I planned to see and I ended up drawing two large loops.  The first one hugs the coast all along the west, south and east as far north as New York City.  Then, after a quick trip to Chicago, I'll follow Route 66 as best I can, all the way back to California. I'll stop along that route for a visit to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks before rejoining Route 66.

Then, I'll make a fairly quick beeline back up to Seattle for a brief respite at home. Then I'll traverse across the middle of the country, hitting places like Boise, Boulder, Lincoln, Kansas City and Iowa City. Then I'll do New England and the Great Lakes and head home via the Badlands, Montana and Idaho.

Something new I'm planning to do this year is to purchase an annual pass to all National Parks, Monuments and Forests and making as many stops in these places as possible.

Here is a list of my proposed stops and dates. I'll update this listing as I contact people and firm up teaching gigs. Those dates marked * are ones that have been confirmed and booked.

WASHINGTON:
April 28 - Bellingham
April 29 - Anacortes
April 30 - Seaside

OREGON:
May 1 - Coos Bay

CALIFORNIA:
May 2 - Arcata
May 3, 4 - Santa Rosa
May 5 - San Francisco
*May 6 - San Jose - Terre
May 7, 8 -Santa Barbara
May 9 - Carlsbad
May 10 - San Diego

ARIZONA:
*May 11 - Phoenix -P.Casey
May 12 - Tucson

TEXAS:
May 12 - El Paso
May 13 - Del Rio
May 15 - Corpus Christi
*May 16 - San Antonio -Adelle
May 17 - Austin
*May 18, 19, 20 - Dallas - Jan, Jule
*May 21, 22 - Houston -Kristie

LOUISIANA:
May 23 - New Orleans

ALABAMA:
May 24 - Decatur
*May 25 - Cullman -Ann (thurs morning)

GEORGIA:
*May 26, 27 - Tucker / Decatur -Sandy

FLORIDA:
May 28 - Tallahasee
*May 29-31 June 1 - Venice -Rebecca
* June 2 - Pompano Beach -Jody
*June 3 - Gainesville -Sarit

SOUTH CAROLINA:
June 4 - Florence

NORTH CAROLINA:
*June 5, 6 - Charlotte -Sherrie, Demi, Terese
* June 7 - Durham -Kate, Haven

VIRGINIA:
June 8 - Virginia Beach
June 9 - Richmond - Niki

MARYLAND:
June 10 - Baltimore

WASHINGTON D.C.
June 11 - Bethesda

NEW JERSEY:
*June 12 - Colts Neck -Ines, Bobbie

NEW YORK:
June 13-17 - Manhattan

OHIO:
June 18 - Canton

ILLINOIS:
June 19, 20 - Chicago -Kendra

MISSOURI:
June 21, 22 - St. Louis -Sally
June 23 - Springfield

OKLAHOMA:
June 24 - Oklahoma City

TEXAS:
June 25 - Amarillo

NEW MEXICO:
*June 26 - Albuquerque -Diane

ARIZONA:
June 27 - Holbrook
June 28 - Flagstaff -Stephanie
*June 29, 30 - Sedona -Alba
July 1 - Kingman

NEVADA:
*July 2 - Las Vegas

UTAH:
*July 3, 4 - Zion / St. George - Zeke
*July 5, 6 - Bryce Canyon / Cedar City -Zeke

CALIFORNIA:
July 7 - Barstow
July 8,  9 - Santa Monica / Venice
July 10 - Mammoth Lakes
July 11 - Auburn
*July 12 - Nevada City - Aimee

OREGON:
July 13 - Klamath Falls
*July 14 - Eugene - Janet
July 15 - Eugene -Amy
July 16 - Newberg -Caz
July 17, 18 - Portland -Sam

WASHINGTON:
July 19 - Centralia
July 20 - Olympia / Lacey
July 21-26 - Seattle
July 27 - Leavenworth

OREGON:
July 28 - Pendleton / Bend

IDAHO:
July 29, 30 - Boise

WYOMING:
July 31 - Evanston
Aug 1 - Lyman

UTAH:
Aug 2 - Salt Lake City

COLORADO:
Aug 3 - Grand Junction
Aug 4 - Boulder
Aug 5 - Lyons
Aug 6 - Denver

NEBRASKA:
Aug 7, 8 - Lincoln

KANSAS:
Aug 9, 10 - Kansas City

IOWA:
Aug 11, 12 - Coralville

INDIANA:
Aug 13 - Indianapolis

OHIO:
Aug 14 - Columbus

PENNSYLVANIA:
Aug 15 - Pittsburg

NEW YORK:
Aug 16-18 - Manhattan

CONNECTICUT:
Aug 19 - Milford

MASSACHUSSETS:
Aug 20 - Cambridge / Boston

MAINE:
Aug 21, 22 - Portland

NEW HAMPSHIRE:
Aug 23

VERMONT:
Aug 24 - Newfane

NEW YORK:
Aug 25 - Albany

MASSACHUSSETS:
Aug 26 - Pittsfield

NEW YORK:
Aug 27 - Cornwall-on-Hudson
Aug 28-Sept 1 - Manhattan
Sept 2 - Buffalo

OHIO:
Sept 3, 4 - Cleveland

MICHIGAN:
Sept 5 - Lansing
Sept 6 - Traverse City

WISCONSIN:
Sept 7 - Green Bay
Sept 8, 9 - Brookfield/Hubertus

MINNESOTA:
Sept 10, 11 - Minneapolis
Sept 12 - Duluth

NORTH DAKOTA:
Sept 13 - Fargo

SOUTH DAKOTA:
Sept 14 - Rapid City

MONTANA:
Sept 15 - Billings
Sept 16 - Red Lodge
Sept 17 - Bozeman
Sept 18 - Helena
Sept 19 - Missoula

IDAHO:
Sept 20 - Sandpoint
Sept 21 - Hayden

WASHINGTON:
Sept 22 - Spokane
Sept 23 - Pullman

IDAHO:
Sept 24 - Boise

UTAH:
Sept 25 - Ogden

COLORADO:
Sept 26 - Grand Junction
Sept 27 - Durango

NEW MEXICO:
Sept 28-Oct 2 - Santa Fe

UTAH:
Oct 3 - Moab

WASHINGTON:
Oct 4 - Kennewick
Oct 5 - Seattle HOME!!!!






Thursday, December 24, 2015

JAG's 2016 Menu

Here's what I've put together to present in 2016.

1- AMAZING.   This routine is a fun celebration of collaboration. It was co-created with JAG and several different Nia communities across the USA.  It contains some familiar songs in a variety of genres, from country music, to disco.  Many of the songs are about the cities from which the creative choreography comes. The focus of the routine is on Connections and Directions and the intent is to Explore Something New and Return Home Renewed.  Read this blog entry for a full description of the story behind this routine.


If your community is interested in participating in a choreography playshop exactly like the ones we used to create the Amazing routine, that can certainly be arranged. It requires about three hours. 
Here is a sample of the flier for this class:
****************

2- ORCHESTRA.   This routine was co-created by JAG and Marcelle Rudnick, Brown Belt from Kansas City. It uses all Classical Music. Ravel's 'Bolero', Tchaikovsky's '1812 Overture' and Beethoven's 'Fifth Symphony' are some of the pieces we will be moving along with. This is a wonderfully complex and satisfying routine and it's great fun to do Nia to this largely untapped style of music. The focus is on the 13 Joints and the intent is to Notice Parts Creating the Whole.


Here is a sample of the flier for this class:
************

3- WOODSTOCK EXPERIENCE.   This is a JAG routine using bands that played at the original Woodstock Music Festival of 1969 like Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Moody Blues. This is a free-spirited routine with a focus on FreeDance. The intent is to Dance Your Body's Way. Although no drugs are used during the routine, many people have reported feeling 'high' afterwards.


IMG_0004
joy, transcendence, love…it was a true woodstock experience!!LORD it was fun. i was so so high from it!!! don't miss it next time!!!!!
Posted by Amy Palatnick on Friday, August 28, 2015
Here is a sample flier for this class:

**********


4- FLOORPLAY.  In the fall of 2015, JAG created a playshop / extended Nia routine called Power FloorPlay.  In December of the same year, Debbie Rosas released an official Nia routine called FloorPlay. JAG can either present his Athletic FloorPlay routine, or Debbie's standard FloorPlay routine as shown on the recent DVD release. Or we could do a combination of the two, blending JAG's athletic style with Debbie's classic Nia to present a loving tribute to what JAG calls "my favorite part of class."  The health and fitness benefits of playing on the floor are increased strength and flexibility. Agility and confidence are improved as well. This can be taught in a standard one-hour class format, or as an extended playshop.
I haven't yet made a flier for this class, but here are some photos of FloorPlay:



*************
In addition to the above routines, JAG can also present playshops based on any of JAG's original or standard Nia routines, or any Nia concept.

IMPORTANT NOTE: River will be there, too.  We BOTH look forward to seeing many old and new friends in 2016.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Stalking Impeccable Language

 As Nia teachers we like to be impeccable about our speech.
To that end, we have a few words that we carefully stalk the use of: namely “Try" “Because" and “Hard”. All three of these words have a weakening effect on our speech and our psyche as the speaker and as the listener. We have declared these words as dangerous because of the messages sent by their use.

“Try" is giving ourselves permission to fail. Instead of saying “I’ll try” we suggest saying “I’ll do it”  
Saying “i’ll try” is almost the same as saying “I’m not going to do it.”  And we know how important it is to set our intention.  So we use this word VERY carefully, and for the most part, avoid it altogether. 


“Because” can easily be abused in many ways. It often wastes time explaining ourselves when just the answer is sufficient. 
For example, “I’m going to invite my sister because she’ll enjoy this.” Would be more impeccable as simply “I’m going to invite my sister.”
“Because” also sets the stage for telling stories, which are more often than not untrue and not impeccable. 
“She didn’t come today because it was raining." This only works if she specifically told you that she didn't come for that reason. And “I won’t go there because then I’ll be embarrassed.” is predicting the future. 
These would be more impeccable as "She didn't come today." and "I won't go there."
But I think the most heinous abuse of the concept of "because" is when it is used as the lead-in to a follow up to a question. “Do we need to wear our hats? Because I thought that was optional. I wore mine last week and I was the only one wearing it.” 

“Because" demonstrates insecurity in this case.  The question is sufficient. The explanation for why you asked the question is pointless. The word 'because' in this case means, 'here's why I'm asking the question.' The majority of the time, not relevant to the answer. 



Calling something “Hard” is making a universal judgment on something, when in truth, everyone has a subjective experience.
For example, “Cuing between the 3 and the 6 is hard.”  is not true. I disagree and find it quite natural to cue between 3 and 6, so it’s not true to say that it’s hard.
"I struggle with cuing between the 3 and 6.” is ok. “I’m practicing cuing between the 3 and 6” is even better.

It is more that just the words that are to be avoided, but the ideas they represent. 
Simply using a synonym, or omitting the word but keeping the intent, is not the solution.
I’ve heard all of these techniques used at some point:
“She yelled at me BECAUSE I made her mad”
is the same as
“She yelled at me. I made her mad.”
The ‘because’ is still implied by continuing on to say the second sentence.
The idea of eliminating the word “because" is to eliminate the explanation part, so skipping the word and going on to the explanation is missing the point.

“the 8BCs are HARD.”
is the same as
“the 8BCs are DIFFICULT”
the idea is to acknowledge that they are not hard, but rather that you are struggling with them. 
Once you understand them, they will no longer seem hard to you.
They are not inherently ‘hard’. Nothing is.

“I’m going to TRY to mention the focus twice in each song today.”
is the same as 
“I’m going to ATTEMPT to mention the focus twice in each song today.”

There is a way to be impeccable in all of the examples above:
“She yelled at me.”
“I’m still learning to do the 8BCs”
“I’m going to mention the focus twice in each song today."

As Nia teachers, you have most likely already been exposed to these instances, and we all practice them to some degree, as we see fit.

But I’d like to suggest we consider stalking a phrase that isn’t included above.
And that is the phrase “just a White Belt”.
Obtaining one’s White Belt in Nia is a huge achievement and deserves to be acknowledged and respected for what it is.
It is condescending to use the phrase ‘just a White Belt’ as it implies that it is a frivolous achievement and that more is expected. 
In fact it is quite an extraordinary undertaking that should inspire pride and reverence. 
Example, “Are you a Blue Belt? No, I’m just a White Belt.”
Could instead be, “Are you a Blue Belt? No, I’m a White Belt.”

It seems like a small adjustment, but actually the meaning and implication is very different. 
I admire all of the work, expense and dedication it takes to commit to being a White Belt. It is a very important achievement, and I’d like to see it being referred to as such.
There should be no spoken or unspoken implication that one holding a higher belt level is somehow more worthy of respect.
I’d like us all to remain aware of the use or misuse of our words and what kind of messages we are sending with our choices.

Thank you,
with utmost respect for you all,
JAG
just a First Degree Black Belt ;)


Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Story of "Amazing"

AMAZING is the name of a Nia routine I'm going to be offering in 2016. Here is the story of how it came to be.

First, a little background: I'd been holding between two and fourteen weekly Nia classes on a regular basis in Seattle, Tuscany and/or New York City, without missing more than a week, since I first became a White Belt in 1996.

In 2010, I was living in New York and signed up to attend a yoga event in Santa Monica. I decided it might be fun to see if I could also arrange to sub some classes in the area while I was there. I made some phone calls and ended up booking gigs all along the coast. I flew from New York to LAX and did the entire trip on public transportation; planes, trains and rented automobiles. I took a few busses, too. I taught a newly created Nia routine of mine I called Bond Girls in Santa Barbara, Eugene, Portland and Seattle, and stopped to visit several old friends (I grew up in California and lived for many years in Seattle.)  It was so much fun. And I caught a bug for the adventure and excitement of combining teaching Nia with traveling.

After that, I went back to teaching my regular classes in NYC but continued to teach them for less than a year, until the spring of 2011, when I canceled them all and moved back to Seattle without any intention of starting up new ones.  Instead I rescued a dog from the animal shelter and devoted my energy and attention to his difficult rehabilitation.

River

After getting a sufficient handle on River, I loaded him into the passenger seat of a rented motorhome and we spent a week camping at several different Washington State Parks. It was a low-risk experiment to see how River would take to the idea of vagabonding. He seemed to love it, and did really well. I decided my next experiment would be to take him with me as I taught a few Nia classes. I took him first to a class that I was attending in Seattle, and then took him to one that I was subbing. I brought his cage and set him up and, outside of a bit of whining in the beginning, he did well enough that I set about planning a road trip with Nia and River.

I learned, on the camping trip, that the RV option was too cumbersome and expensive, so on the next trip I rented a Mustang. It was only a couple of weeks and covered the three Pacific coast states I was already so familiar with. I learned a lot and we had a great time. I made several adjustments each time we went on a trip. But all was going well so I set about exploring longer and longer trips.



By the end of 2015 we had taken at least a dozen trips, covering much of the USA. Some of them were over two months long. Each time I take a trip I learn more about myself, about Nia, about River and about America. I've gone through three Mini Coopers, four dog trainers, and four JAG Nia routines. I've created a new one each year to take "on tour" all over the country.

So far, just for these trips, I've created the original routines:
  • Woodstock Experience
  • Rock In - (a 60's version and a 70's version)
  • Bond Girls - (which was re-worked a few years later and re-emerged in 2014 as...)
  • Goldfinger
  • Frankie Say Nia

It didn't take me long to notice, as I visited all of these Nia communities across the country, that there was a great big family that I was a part of. Everywhere I went, I was welcomed warmly as if I were one of the gang, even if we had never met. We all spoke the same language and had similar passions. We all enjoyed this Nia thing with our bodies, our minds and our spirits. Through Nia I felt as if we were all one.






I was struck by how creative this family is. We share the love of expressing through moving our bodies to music while honoring the sacred uniqueness of each body's way. We share a common language and movement vocabulary. There is something very special about the big picture I was seeing, that I didn't think many people had the benefit of experiencing.

So this is what inspired my AMAZING idea.

It began as a wondering, back in 2014.

I wondered if I could be the needle and thread, stitching together the tapestry of a Nia routine created by the Nia family as a whole. I wanted to be the catalyst, focusing the creative energy of my Nia brothers and sisters into a classic-format, seven-cycle, vertical Nia routine. Something inside of me told me that it could work, though I had no idea what I was going to do, or how it would come together.

So in the winter of 2014/2015, as I was putting together my trip for the upcoming year, I included in my offerings, the opportunity to participate in this project I was calling the Community Network Synergy project, or CNS for short. I asked each community that wanted to participate to come up with a song. I suggested songs that had a special meaning to the community, but I avoided making any creative input into their decision. Some of the communities chose a song and others chose several and asked me to make the final choice. Once the song was chosen, I would arrive and ask them to FreeDance to the song until we found clicks and eventually full choreography for the song.

I had no idea if I'd get enough participation to build a standard 55 minute routine, or if I'd get so much participation that I'd have to edit it for time and not use some of the material. I was also unsure whether I was going to get a variety of song types, or if everything was going to be full on, high energy jams. I made a commitment to myself to be impeccable about not adding my creative energy to this process. I promised myself that I would only work with the material that my colleagues came up with.

One of the delightful and unexpected pleasures of this project was allowing myself to have no expectations or agenda, and to trust the process of receiving. Since I was offering as little input as I could get away with, each community tended to do the process differently.

For example, in Santa Monica, I arrived to discover that they had already choreographed several songs, which they demonstrated for me when I arrived. I got to choose which one to take. I chose the one with all the tae kwon do energy; a modern rock song called Counting Stars.

In Texas, several teachers in Houston each chose a different "Texas" song and presented them all as their Friday night Jam when I arrived. I then chose my favorite song from that jam but couldn't remember the choreography. I asked the teachers to give me some moves, but by then they had dispersed and I wasn't getting responses to my email requests. I finally cornered one teacher in the parking lot just before leaving town and she gave me a couple of movements, but I left Houston without actually having the song fully choreographed. I was bummed that it didn't work our for Houston. It was the first time a song didn't get finished. But when I got to my next stop, I brought it up before my class in Dallas, asking the Nia students there for some Texas-style moves that I could add. One of the students gave me the move that brought the whole thing together. So while most of the songs in the Amazing are from cities, I consider that this song comes to the project from the state of Texas. Collaboration!

Since the beginning of the CNS project, I had a few songs in my mind. I wanted Johnny Cash's "I've Been Everywhere" and Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again". Neither of those songs ended up in the routine, and of course it was against my rules to suggest it to anyone. But I also wanted to use the song, Route 66. So imagine my surprise when in Santa Fe, they suggested using a Depeche Mode remix version of Route 66!

I allowed an exception to my no-participation rule in Seattle. Since I considered myself part of the Seattle teacher community, I allowed myself to throw a song suggestion into the ring. Of course, the deck was stacked since I was also the one with the final say on which song we used, my song, "Seattle" by Bobby Sherman was the one we ended up using.

In Boise, we hadn't planned to do the project at all. They invited me there to teach a weekend workshop and my 80's Nia class. By the end of the day on Sunday, we had covered most of the material and still had a couple of hours left. I gave them some options for ways we could spend the remaining time based on what we covered and what I had left. But I also threw out the idea of creating a song together and they liked that idea. It was a total left turn. I asked them to throw out some song suggestions and a few were offered until one of the students suggested something that I actually had in my phone; a hauntingly beautiful duet by Jane Siberry and K. D. Lang called Calling All Angels. I played it and we all decided we liked it. We quickly did the 8BCs on the dry erase board and started dancing. Ninety minutes later, we had barred and choreographed the song that ended up being our Warm Up.

Another coup was when, in Leavenworth, one of the suggestions they came up with was Craig Armstrong's version of Weather Storm by Massive Attack. I first heard the song when teaching in Tuscany and fell immediately in love with the intense drama of its gorgeous sonic landscape. I will admit, that I mentioned to that group that I was trying to create a full routine and I didn't yet have a FloorPlay song. I suggested that this song lent itself perfectly to playing on the floor. I danced with them and I admit that it was tempting to not do it on the floor. But we eventually came up with something very lovely that works so well to bring the class to a short FloorPlay session and to a nice final closing.

Another moment that demonstrated how accurate my feelings were that I was part of a big family came when I was preparing to arrive in Richmond, VA. They had only one suggestion, "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge. My memory may be failing me. Perhaps they did have other song suggestions, but when I heard "We Are Family" I immediately knew they were on the same wavelength as I was.



In the end, 13 communities decided to work with me during 2015. I ended up with exactly 54 minutes of material. I had a delicious Warm up song and several mild Get Moving songs which would also work as a Cool Down song, a couple of good kick-ass high energy songs, some great FreeDance moments and a FloorPlay song. Quite frankly, I was amazed at how well it came together. By the way, this amazement I kept feeling is where the name of the routine comes from. That, and the fact that one of the songs in the routine is called "Amazing" made it seem inevitable.

Several times during the process, I was emotionally moved by the profound collaboration. The ease with which it all came together was a perfect testament to the Nia "family" I had been sensing.  And I was overwhelmed by being able to receive so much of the creative energy I had only been teased by in past visits when I was there only to present my work. It felt to my like a great honor to be the spider, knitting this Nia web.

When we got home from my last trip, in October of 2015, I hit the studio and started to play around with what order the songs belonged in. Several times, I was moved to tears as I felt the thread. The routine has such a strong sense of cohesion as if it were created by one mind. There are some katas that show up repeatedly, giving the routine a holistic feeling of completeness. I especially love that many of these songs are ones that I would not have chosen, and some of the movement is new to me. It felt as if I was receiving such a gift from my community and from Nia.

I'm delighted to present this "Amazing" routine in 2016. I will be careful throughout the year not to say that I created it. I did create it, in a way, but not in the standard sense. I like to say that I catalyzed it. It was truly a collaboration and co-creation between me and the Nia communities in:

Boise
Colt's Neck
Kansas City
Leavenworth
Minneapolis
New York City
Richmond
Santa Fe
Santa Monica
Seattle
Sedona
and Texas



If you live in the Seattle area, you may get a sneak preview as I practice it now and then in 2015 or in the winter of 2016 before we hit the road. But for most people, who don't live in Seattle, I hope you get the opportunity to experience "AMAZING" in 2016 and that you find it as delightful as I do. I think you will. 





Saturday, September 12, 2015

iPhone Video Dump

I take lots of video of my dog, River, when we're on long road trips and then I don't do much else with them. Occasionally, I'll post a short video to Facebook, but other than that, I let them accumulate in my phone and watch them or show them to unsuspecting people at random times.

I probably would continue to store all of the videos in my phone, rarely seen by most of the world, if it weren't for the fact that I eventually run out of disc storage.

Yesterday, I got a message that I couldn't perform a simple function I was attempting because I had less than 500 MB of storage available on my phone.  So I deleted a bunch of useless things, but it only made a tiny dent. A more thorough investigation showed that the majority of space was being used up by two main things: my music library and my videos.

I need my music on my phone for my work, so I couldn't really do anything about that, but I was able to do something about the videos.  I decided to dump all of them into a movie editing app on my computer and create one long video of all of the clips I took during my travels this past year.

I added some titles and some music to help move it along during the slow parts, but otherwise it is pretty much just all of the video clips I took laid out end to end, forming a kind of loose narrative.

Then I deleted all the videos from my phone and it freed up about 6 GB!  Now I'm ready to shoot more videos!  In the meantime, please enjoy this slice of 2015 featuring River and me across the USA.




SOME NOTES ON THE VIDEO:
You may notice that when the video begins, I'm still driving Georgia, the brownish-green 2014 Mini Cooper Countryman. But shortly into it, I've switched to Babe the Blue Ox, a 2015 Mini Cooper 4-door Hardtop.

You may also notice that in the early part of the video, River and I have a 50 foot long red leash. I forgot to load it into the car after we stopped to play in a lake. I went back to the same spot the next day, but it wasn't there.  I replaced it with a green leash the next day. I wouldn't have chosen to get a long green leash because of how much time we spend on grass. The red leash was always easy to find against the grass. The green one, not so much.

There are a few moments in the video when I'm talking and I also have music playing that makes it really difficult to hear and understand me. That was intentional. Sometimes, when I was shooting, I would babble. Trust me, when there's anything even remotely worth hearing, I turn the music down.

Toward the end of the video, when we're in the Trinity Nat'l Forest in Junction City, California, I'm shooting on a cliff, looking down into a big river and I pan around to show the forest. I don't know if it's obvious, or if it looks like it's a foggy day, but it's actually a bright sunny day. What you're seeing is smoke from the nearby wildfires. Notice on the hill across the street from where I'm parked, you can see the ground and some of the blackened trees still smoldering.  There's also an eerie yellowish tint to that section of the video, but it's not a special effect; that hue was actually happening as the sunlight filtered through the smoke. It smelled like a giant campfire.

And what the heck... As long as I'm cleaning media off my hard drive, I might as well also post these random pictures here so I can delete them from my phone:
River on Columbus Ave; NYC

Medford, OR

Medford. OR

Stopping to switch seats.
Cottonwood, CA.
March 26 - River officially becomes a back seat driver

Waiting for class to start since we arrived an hour early.
Sandpoint West Athletic Club parking lot
Sandpoint, ID

Black Hills National Forest
Custer, South Dakota

I-94
Dickinson, North Dakota

Cenex Gas Station
Bismarck, North Dakota

Motel 6
Lakeville, MN

Motel 6 / Nashua, NH

Motel 6
Virginia Beach, VA

Highway Rest Area
Blacksburg, SC

Truck Parking Area
Crescent Valley, CA

Motel 6
Sparks, NV

Five Guys Parking Lot
Indian Hills, NV

Saturday, May 9, 2015

JAGs Birthday Bash

My 49th birthday is June 15, 2015. Forty-nine is a big year for me because it completes the seventh cycle of seven years.  Every seven years I undergo a major shift in personality and perspective.  It isn't usually an instantaneous thing, but something that happens over a several-year period. The most recent change could be felt beginning in February of 2014 during my First Degree Black Belt training and continued throughout most of the year. And I feel like I'm still adjusting to the new me; I can't wait to see what I become this time.

In the meantime, to celebrate this event, I'm inviting all of my Nia family to come and party with me. I have reserved the Century Ballroom on June 13 from noon to 4pm.




At noon I plan to teach my latest routine, Frankie Say Nia.  I have taught it plenty of times in Seattle, but that was before I took it on the road. When I take it around from place to place, I get a chance to refine and improve it at every stop, based on how the students respond to it. So it is now at a place that I feel very proud of, whereas when I had taught it in Seattle in the past, I was still feeling my way through it.

After that, at one pm, I want to play around with a song for inclusion into my 2016 routine. The working title of the routine is Community Network Synergy. The idea is that I am calling on the creative energy of my friends and colleagues to co-create all of the choreography this year. So far, I have worked with six different communities (Santa Monica, Santa Fe, Sedona, Kansas City, Dallas/Houston and Boise) and we have put together six songs. I'm halfway done with the routine. I want to include Seattle in the mix and I have chosen a song that I'd love to work with, but I'm also open to hearing other suggestions. I would like the song to be something that 'speaks to' the community or that represents the community in some way. It could be from a local artist, or a song about the city, etc. This is not a hard and fast rule, but simply a suggestion to help in coming up with song choices.

Then, when the song is chosen, what I'll do is share the method I use when I create choreography for my routines. But instead of using my creative energy, I want to use the creative energy of the teachers and students in attendance.  I will orchestrate it so that we use my method of creation, but I will be plugging in movement 'clicks' and inspirations entirely from my colleagues.

So far this has been an incredibly rewarding experience as I am inspired to use movements and songs I never would have thought of. I'm thrilled at how this routine is going to get me outside of myself and forge a new path for me in my creativity.

Here is the song I am considering for using in Seattle.  As I said, I'm open to other suggestions.

In my experience, it takes about 2 hours to fully realize the choreography to a song using the group method. And then, with the last hour, from 3 to 4 pm, I will teach a song or two from Frankie Say Nia so that the teachers in attendance will be able to teach them in their classes.

In the future, I may put together an entire playshop for learning the routine, but for now, this is the only means for learning the songs from me.

So what is the cost, you ask?  Nothing. It is my birthday, so it is my pleasure to present this to my community. I will be putting out the donation bowl in case anyone would like to contribute to the JAG & River Road Fund. Every little bit helps as we trek across the country. Staying in motels and filling up the gas tank every day can get a bit expensive.

So come and play with me on my birthday. Enjoy some Frankie Say Nia "80s New Wave" Nia and help to co-create next year's routine.


EVENT: 'Frankie Say Nia' routine and Choreography Creation Playshop

DATE:  Saturday, June 13

TIME: Noon - 4pm

LOCATION: Century Ballroom; 915 E Pine St.; Seattle WA

COST: FREE!  (donations gladly accepted)

WHO: Anyone is welcome; teachers, belts and students alike!


Friday, May 8, 2015

Western Road Trip through the eyes of Nia

I started this trip the next day after a Wisdom Comes Dancing playshop with Phillipe and Sabine.
It was a beautiful send-off to a long and eventful Nia adventure.

I taught my latest routine, Frankie Say Nia in 22 cities:
Forest Grove, OR
Eugene, OR
Nevada City, CA
Campbell, CA
San Diego, CA
Santa Monica, CA
Phoenix, AZ
Flagstaff, AZ
Durango, CO
Albuquerque, NM
Santa Fe, NM
Austin, TX
San Antonio, TX
Corpus Christi, TX
Houston, TX
Dallas, TX
Kansas City, MO
Lyons, CO
Boulder, CO
Boise, ID
Spokane, WA
Bellingham, WA

Eight of the engagements listed above were at places I had never been before. The rest were return engagements.

In addition to that, I taught my FreeDance Playshop three times and a Choreography Co-Creation playshop three times. In one city, I focused on teaching the local teachers my Rock & Roll Nia routine. In another city I participated in a teacher Jam and in another I battled it out with a fellow teacher, pitting my classic 80's songs against her 80's cover songs. Along the way, I took a few classes from other teachers as well, including a Move IT class taught by Mark Frossard.


This video was put together by a student in Forest Grove. 




 FUN LINKS:




Video posted on Facebook from my class in Albuquerque




Blog post about my visit to Campbell, including FreeDance Playshop and Frankie Say Nia routine.

After class in Phoenix, AZ

the "Tidal Wave" in Boulder, CO

After a FreeDance Playshop in Lyman, WY

Post Frankie Power in Albuquerque, NM

Post Nia Claw Hand Power in Durango, CO

Sweaty Personal Power in Nevada City, CA

80's Nia fashion poses in San Diego, CA

Teacher Jam in Houston, TX

Originals vs. Covers: Nia Duel in Dallas, TX

Frankie Say Nia at 6am in Houston, TX