Monday, December 17, 2012

Routines From the Vault


I’ve been teaching Nia for 16 years now. And most of those years, I’ve gotten four new routines from Nia. That comes out to over 60 routines over the years. I’ve also created quite a few of my own routines. And along the way, certain routines have fallen out of favor for one reason or another. 

For example, a great routine called Commitments, which uses the music from the soundtrack to the movie of the same name, is one of my first ones. I learned that routine so long ago that I have the music on cassette tape and I watched the routine on VHS. It has been retired “To the Vault” for many years. Ditto for routines called Genesis, Roots and Adagio.

Some routines have been taken apart and used to build other routines. For example I took all of the Angelique Kidjo songs from the classic, Agolo, and put together a routine using only songs from her album, Aye (which means "LIFE" and is the name of the routine as well.)  I split up the songs from the repetitive routine Firedance (music from the Broadway show, Riverdance) and now they can be found as part of my Celtic themed Ceili routine, and other routines I put together like Alphaville and Fire and Ice use songs from Firedance as well. 

Many routines I have been teaching for over ten years and still teach the way they were originally presented because they are so perfect in my mind. Routines like Trance Vision, Mantra, Sanctuary, Mandala and AO fall into this category. 

Routines like Miracle and Fantasia have simply fallen off my radar because I have the music on cassette tape.  It would be simple to get digital copies of the playlists, but I just simply never have because I’m satisfied with the routines I do have. 

And then there are the routines that I have completely built from the ground up, like Millenium, Bond Girls and Rockin. 

So when all the smoke clears there is a list of about 30 routines that I consider to be in current rotation. Teaching one of these routines each week, it takes over six months to go through the list. Many of my students get the impression that I never teach the same routine twice because by the time they see a routine repeat, they’ve been doing Nia with me for six months and have had so many different experiences that they may have forgotten the specifics of each particular one. 

I recently had a great, fun idea. I want to teach the routine from my Vault to teachers, so that they are still available for the new generation of Nia teachers and students. 

So, once a month, I’ll get one out and dust it off and break it down to any teacher who’s interested in adding it to their repertoire. Here’s how I see it working.

The first night, we could have a music appreciation get-together. I envision possibly having a pot-luck style dinner together while we passively listen to the playlist a couple of times through. After eating, I would present each student with a copy of my 8BCs for the routine, and we’d go actively through each song and begin the process of flowering the bars. We could discuss the music and I will point out the important music cues.Then, I’ll send the students home with their bars and a copy of the music so they can practice more at home if they like.

Then, the next morning, I’d teach the routine to the group of teachers. After class we would spend about three hours breaking down the moves, the katas, the music cues and the routine. We will really immerse in the experience of the routine. By the end of this second day, we will divvy up the songs among the teachers present and each of them will teach those songs at a Nia Jam the next day.  The teacher/students will have all night to prepare for their debut the next day.

On the third day, we are offering a Nia Jam to the public. We will team teach the routine to the best of our ability. It will be fun and no pressure. I’ll always be up in the front of the room, moving along with the teachers, so just in case they get lost, they can give the “safe word” and I’ll take over teaching until they are able to take over again. Each teacher will be able to teach a song or two, depending on how many teachers and songs we have. 

I’ll be offering a new Routine From the Vault each month. 

Classic Nia logo circa 1996
As I’m still in the planning stages of this format, I invite any teacher, student or know-it-all type person to give me feedback and input regarding the playshop template I’ve laid out. Any comments or suggestions, including which routines you'd like to see come out of the vault, are invited and encouraged while I’m still in the embryonic stage of development. 

Thanks for reading this, and I hope to see you in the Vault. 

I’m planning to teach my first Vault Session in January, and I’m looking at a venue in West Seattle. Stay tuned for more info. 

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