Friday, February 15, 2013

Closing the Vault

Like so many things I do in my life, I jumped in with both feet. Now having had the experience twice, I realize it wasn’t the right time or the right idea, so I have decided to “Close the Vault” and no longer offer playshops teaching the old, retired routines.

What I learned was that there wasn’t enough interest in the older routines to make the venture worthwhile. I think because the new routines are always coming out and offering so much good material, there isn’t really time or a need for the older routines. Sure, they were great. And I’m so glad I have some of the more esoteric ones under my belt, as it seems like the ones coming out now are more homologous.

I will still maintain my teaching license and of course still travel around the country and the world teaching both old and new routines, as well as some that I have created myself, but I will no longer be attempting to put together a monthly Routine From the Vault playshop in Seattle.

I'll never forget, at my Black Belt training, Carlos looked me in the eye as we were all walking out the studio door for one of our 'field trips' and he said "Don't push the river." 
Long story short, I did and there were many repercussions. But I did learn from it. My tendency is to push the river. But now I'm jumping back in it. I think when the time comes to teach the right vintage routine playshop, it will happen. But I'm not going to push the river.


I have scheduled a classic Nia class in Seattle this month.  It will be Sunday, February 24 at 11am.  I’ll be teaching the classic routine AO (Alpha Omega), which was one of my favorites. The cost for this class is $10.

Check out this blog for info on this class and all upcoming JAG Fitness events.
If any teacher is interested in learning any of the older routines, or even if they need help embodying one of the current routines, I will still offer my private tutoring services at my rate of $80/hour.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

To Seattle or Not To Seattle.

        (That is the Question.)

In early 2011, I decided to temporarily retire. People love to tell me, ‘You’re too young to retire.” But I’ve always done things when I was too young. When I was in third grade, I opened up a candy store in my bedroom and sold to the neighborhood kids. In junior high I was also an enterpriser, but this time I delivered gum and was usually sold out daily by second period. At 15, I was driving a car and had a job, both things that the state of California said I couldn’t do until I was 16. I bought my first car the same month I got my license (as soon as it was legal). When I was twenty years old, I already owned two condo units and ran a branch office of an auto insurance agency. At 25 I branched out and started to sell life insurance, too. At the age of 26 I walked away from that business and all of my real estate investments and moved from California to Washington state without a clue what I was going to do with my life.

In Seattle, I experimented with being a UPS driver, considered being a park ranger and also took a job cleaning houses that didn’t work out. I ended up in the fitness, massage and acting business, and after a few years doing this in Seattle, I moved to New York City to ‘make it in the big apple”. I continued working in fitness, doing body work and acting on stage, TV, films and commercials; and I also got a lot of work doing commercial print modeling. 

I enjoyed that life for eleven more years until I decided it was again time to hang up my hat and re-invent myself. I withdrew from all of the acting unions and didn’t renew my Nia license. I moved back to Seattle and I promised myself I wouldn’t pick up the same life I had established in NYC. I was ready for a complete change. I told myself I’d wait for the call; whatever it was.

So I got to Seattle and the first call I answered was that I needed to rescue a dog from the animal shelter. I spent about two weeks going to the shelter every day waiting to see the right dog. Funnily enough, I had already picked out the name, so I was looking for the dog to fit the name. There were a few that I bonded with but couldn’t bring home for one reason or another, but then I finally found the one. He had JUST been brought in from the waterfront where he was tied to a stairwell and abandoned. It was River! I brought him home and spent the next year teaching him how to be a well-adjusted dog who was loved, rather than abused and mistreated.

Throughout this whole first year, I was getting a strong appeal from the Seattle Nia community that I should teach. One woman even said, “If you have the ability to bring this much Joy to a roomful of people, it’s a crime not to do it.”  I didn’t want to get back into teaching a class on a regular basis, as it was too much like the life I retired from. So I came up with the idea to present monthly playshops, bringing some of the old Nia routines out of retirement with me. It was an experiment, but it seemed right to me.

In the meantime, I had been meditating and waiting to hear what new life was calling me. I discovered that I had a wanderlust. I rented an RV and took River on a camping trip. And then I rented a car and took him on a trip where I was teaching some fitness classes out of state. This turned out to be so much fun and so satisfying that I realized it had something to do with my next ‘life’. Despite my initial resistance to doing so, I bought a car so that I could take road trips with River. And as I experimented more and more about how to make the road trips work, I realized that I could set up teaching engagements in cities across the USA. These out-of-town trips have proven to be very successful and fairly simple to put together. They seem to just come together effortlessly.

So far I’ve set up two playshops in Seattle.  I had to cancel the first one because no one signed up. I turned it into a regular Nia class, but only three people showed up for that. I had a great time, but was surprised and disheartened at the lack of support. Interestingly enough, I set up the exact same playshop in New York the following weekend and had enough people signed up the day after the announcement went out. It was very eye-opening to compare the different experiences I had in the two cities. I vowed to give Seattle another chance, so I set up another playshop for this month. So far the announcement has been out there for a couple of days, but I have only one person signed up so far. If I don’t get at least three people, I’d lose money on the event, so I’m waiting to get three before I’ve committed to going ahead with it. The space that I’ve rented wants one week advance notice to cancel without charging me, so I need three people signed up by February 16 or it will have to be cancelled. Click here to read more about it, and sign up on this page.

If this playshop doesn’t come together, I’ll take it as a sign that it wasn’t meant to be in Seattle. Despite the outcry that I’m needed and supported in the community, I’ll have to chalk it up to “actions speak louder than words” when I hear so many people in Seattle telling me they want me to teach, but then not signing up for my events when I do. Seeing as how I’m able to successfully set up playshops and classes in other cities, it is clear that it isn’t that me or my material that’s lacking, but rather the level of interest in this particular city.

So in five more days I will make an important decision regarding my future of teaching Nia in Seattle. In an effort to keep a promise to myself that I made many years ago, I’m not going to fight an uphill battle to make this work. If it is meant to be, it will be. If not, I’m sure I’ll be happy sharing my talents and passions on road trips with River.

Stay tuned for further developments.

If you would like River and I to pay a visit to your town, please let me know. I can teach Nia classes and playshop as well as a wide ranch of fitness-related workshops. I also do amazing, pain-reducing body work called Body Tuning and give health and fitness consultation as well as private yoga or Nia tutoring. Check out my schedule and see if there’s a place you want to fit in.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Routines from the Vault - AO: Alpha Omega

February’s Routine From the Vault will be in the format of an 8BC Playshop.
The focus of the weekend will be on the AO routine, and my intent is to transmit and assist the students in receiving the routine using Nia’s 8BC music and choreography notation system.

AO, short for Alpha Omega, is a retired Carlos routine using the profound sounds of Bob Holroyd’s “A Difference Space” album. I often refer to this as a Perfect Routine because of it’s cohesiveness and sense of completeness and resolution. It’s a perfect example of dynamic ease and balance. The focus of the routine is on “the beginning and the end” of each movement, (hence the Alpha and Omega; the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet). The earthy/spaciness of the music provides a mystic soundtrack to this very satisfying Nia masterpiece.

Listen to snippets from the album, here.

The choreography in AO is wonderfully fun and grounded, which lends to using it for self healing or increasing strength and allows for a lot of expressive creativity in the upper extremities.

If you are well-versed in the 8BC system you will leave the weekend with an impressive, new routine under your belt that you and your students will want to do again and again. You may still need to practice and rehearse before you teach it, but at least you’ll HAVE it.

On the other hand, if you are not familiar with or not well-versed in the 8BC method, this will be a great opportunity to get intimate with it. As we listen to the music and practice our barring, I will teach you how to make doing the 8BCs your ally and turn it into an indispensable practice. With my help, you will bar the entire routine on Friday night. By the time we start moving on Saturday, you will be very familiar with the music.

There is no other routine quite like AO. It is instantly recognizable and widely loved. I want to bring this routine out of the vault and keep it alive in the Nia community.

The weekend will look like this:

Friday, February 22 6:00 pm -10:00 pm   
“Music and the art of creating your bars”
@Casa d’JAG in Capitol Hill

Saturday, February 23 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
“Movement and the art of noting choreography”

Sunday, February 24 11:00 am - Noon
“Nia Jam: The Magic of teaching AO”

Saturday and Sunday will be at Velocity Dance Center; 1621 12th Ave; Seattle

The Jam is open to the public for an admission of only $5.

I will be teaching AO twice over the weekend. Once in private, for the teachers in the playshop, and once as a Jam for the public on Sunday. Any teachers registered in the playshop who want to teach a song or two in the Jam are enthusiastically encouraged to do so and will be receiving the utmost support from me and everyone. Please tell your students and friends to come and share the experience with you.

The Jam only is $5 paid at the door.

 The cost of the full weekend will be $59. After February 15, the cost goes up to $80. Please pre-register. :) As soon as your payment is received you will get a copy of my 8BCs and a link to the music you can use for the course. I'm not giving the music to you, but just letting you use it. It is your responsibility to purchase your own copy.  I've seen it used on for a little as $0.90. The sooner you have music, the sooner you can begin working with it.

Register here for the playshop.