Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Where the Heck Are JAG & River? Aug - Oct 2017



MON - AUG 14
drive: Seattle to Leavenworth (2.5 hrs)
teach: Nia in Leavenworth @ 12pm / 5 pm -  Gayle^
drive: Leavenworth to Moses Lake (2 hrs)
blog

TUES - AUG 15
drive: Moses Lake to Hayden (2.5 hrs)
teach: Nia in Hayden @ 10:30 - Jamie^
drive: Hayden to Butte (4.5 hrs)
blog

WED - AUG 16
drive: Butte to Helena (1 hr)
teach: Nia in Helena @ 2:00pm - Kathryn^
drive: Helena to Billings (3.75 hrs)
blog

THURS - AUG 17
shop: food, dog food, water
teach: Nia in Billings @ 4:30pm - Sue^
drive: Billings to Riverton (4.5 hrs)
blog

FRI - AUG 18
drive: Riverton to Evanston (3.75 hrs)
visit: Bear River State Park, WY
blog

SAT - AUG 19
teach: Nia in Evanston @ 9:30am - Lisa^
drive: Evanston to Fort Collins (5.5 hrs)
blog

SUN - AUG 20
teach: Nia in Lyons  10:15 - Jasmine^
visit: Rocky Mountain Nat Park
shop: food, water, dog food
blog

MON - AUG 21
drive: Fort Collins to Omaha (7.5 hrs)
***SOLAR ECLIPSE***viewing in North Platte
blog

TUES - AUG 22
teach: Nia in Lincoln @ 8:30 am - Holly^
visit: Platte River State Park, NE
blog

WED - AUG 23
drive: Omaha to St. Paul (6 hrs)
teach: Nia in Minnepolis @ 7:30 pm - Beth^
shop: food, dog food, water
blog

THUR - AUG 24
teach: Nia in Minneapolis @ 8:00 am - Amy^
drive: Minneapolis to Cedar Rapids (4.25 hrs)
blog

FRI - AUG 25
visit: Lake MacBride State Park
teach: Nia in Coralville @ 6:00 pm - Beth^
SAT - AUG 26
drive: Cedar Rapids to Hazelwood (4.5 hrs)
visit: Wakonda State Park
blog

SUN - AUG 27
teach: Nia in Edwardsville @ 10:00am - Sally^
teach: Nia in Edwardsville @ 12:30 pm - Sally^
MON - AUG 28
teach: Nia in Edwardsville @ 8:15am - Sally^
shop: dog food, food, water
drive: Edwardsville to Evansville (4.5 hrs)

TUES - AUG 29
teach: Nia in Louisville @ 6:00pm - Maria^
drive: Louisville to Mason (2 hrs)
blog

WED - AUG 30
drive: Mason to Grove City (1 hr)
blog

THUR - AUG 31
shop: food, dog food, water
teach: Nia in Columbus @ 7:00 pm - Trish^
FRI - SEPT 1
drive: Grove City to Sandston (7 hrs)
visit: Shenandoah National Park
blog

SAT - SEPT 2
teach: Nia in Richmond @11:30am -  Felicia^
blog

SUN - SEPT 3
drive: Richmond to Charlotte (5 hrs)
shop: dog food, groceries and water
teach: Nia in Charlotte @ 6:45 pm - Sherrie^
LABOR DAY
MON - SEPT 4
drive: Charlotte to Myrtle Beach (5 hrs)
teach: Nia in Myrtle Beach @ 4:30 pm -  Mary^
drive: Myrtle Beach to Florence (1.5 hrs)
blog

TUES - SEPT 5
drive: Florence to Norcross (4.5 hrs)
teach: Nia in Tucker @ 7:00 pm - Sandy^
blog

WED - SEPT 6
drive: Norcross to Attalla (3 hrs)
blog

THUR - SEPT 7
drive: Attalla to Cullman (1 hr)
teach: Nia in Cullman @ 10:00am - Ann
drive: Cullman to Ocean Springs (5 hrs)
blog

FRI - SEPT 8
shop: dog food, water and groceries
visit: Ocean Springs Beach and Gulf Islands National Seashore
blog

SAT - SEPT 9
drive: Ocean Springs to Houston (7 hrs)
blog

SUN - SEPT 10
teach: Nia in Houston @ 9:15am - Angela
blog

MON - SEPT 11
drive: Houston to Corpus Christi (3.5 hrs)
teach: Nia in Rockport @ 4:30 - Diane / Dorene
****CANCELLED DUE TO HURRICANE HARVEY****
blog

TUES - SEPT 12
visit: South Padre Island Nat'l Seashore
drive: Corpus Christi to San Antonio (2.5 hrs)
blog

WED - SEPT 13
teach: Nia in San Antonio @ 9:15 - Adelle^
shop: dog food, groceries and water
teach: Nia in San Antonio @ 5:30 - Adelle^
THUR - SEPT 14
drive: San Antonio to Irving (4.5 hrs)
blog

FRI - SEPT 15
teach: Nia in Dallas @ 9:45 am - Jule
drive: Irving to Amarillo (5.5 hrs)
blog

SAT - SEPT 16
drive: Amarillo to Farmington (7 hrs)
shop: food, water, dog food
blog

SUN - SEPT 17
nothing
blog

MON - SEPT 18
teach: Nia in Durango @ 9:00 am - Evonne^
visit: Navajo Lake State Park
blog

TUES - SEPT 19
visit: Navajo Lake State Park
blog

WED - SEPT 20
drive: Farmington to Albuquerque (3 hrs)
teach: Nia in Albuquerque @ 4:30 - Erin^
drive: Albuquerque to Santa Fe (1 hr)
blog

THUR - SEPT 21 through MON - SEPT 25
teach: Nia in Santa Fe
blog

TUES - SEPT 26
drive: Santa Fe to Flagstaff (6 hrs)
blog

WED - SEPT 27
drive: Flagstaff to Sedona (1 hr)
teach: private Nia in Sedona - Alba
blog

THUR - SEPT 28
drive: Sedona to Needles (4 hrs)
visit: Historic US Route 66
blog

FRI - SEPT 29
drive: Needles to Van Nuys (4 hrs)
blog

SAT - SEPT 30
~~~Yom Kippur~~~
visit: Pacific Beaches

SUN - OCT 1
teach: Nia in LA @ 2:00 pm - Paula^

MON - OCT 2
visit: Pacific Beaches
drive: Van Nuys to Santa Barbara (2.5 hrs)

TUES - OCT 3
shop: groceries, water and dog food

WED - OCT 4
drive: Santa Barbara to Vacaville (6 hrs)

THURS - OCT 5
teach: Nia in Walnut Creek @ 10:00am - Danielle^
teach: private Nia training - Miki

FRI - OCT 6
drive: Vacaville to Nevada City (1.5 hrs)
teach: Nia in Nevada City @ 8:30 am - Aimee^
drive: Nevada City to Eureka (5.5 hrs)

SAT - OCT 7
teach: Nia in Eureka - Rose
drive: Eureka to Springfield (5.5 hrs)
visit: Oregon Coast

SUN - OCT 8
teach: Nia in Pleasant Hills @ 5:00 pm - Kellie^
drive: Eugene to Portland (2 hrs)
visit: Oregon Coast

MON - OCT 9
teach: Nia in Portland @ 5:45pm - Samantha^
drive: Portland to Seattle (4 hrs)

TUES - OCT 10
co-teach: Nia in Seattle with Jennifer Lucero-Earle 

and then JAG is starting a new and ongoing class!! 
Tuesdays at 6 - 7 pm 
Sundays at 10:30 - 11:30 am
at Balance Studio in Fremont
418 N 35th St.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

An Invitation to Collaborate

I want to collaborate with another Nia teacher, or group of Nia teachers, on creating an original Nia routine.

Here is my story: I first got my Nia White Belt in 1996.

Prior to discovering Nia I was an aerobics instructor and was choreographing my classes regularly. I had also spent several years studying dance; ballet, jazz and modern. While I never attempted to choreograph outside of the realm of a fitness class, I was certainly exposed to learning a lot of choreography and was very familiar with the language of dance.

So when I returned home from the White Belt, I immediately put together a Nia routine. I was busy learning my first two routines, which were Genesis and Roots, but I also used the sample workout spelled out in a section of the original "Nia Technique" book. I used some of my favorite music and created a routine I called Orbit.

After that, I didn't create my own routine again for several years. I was busy learning all of the official Nia routines I could. In those early years, I learned:

Adagio
Agolo
Chakras
Commitments
Enya
Fantasia
Mandala
Miracle
Moodfood
Spiritual High
Trance Vision
Yulunga

I learned an average of four a year and at the advice of my trainers (Debbie and Carlos) I rarely taught anything but the full routines as they were given to me. I didn't make it a habit to switch out songs that I didn't like or that were challenging to me. I made a commitment to stick with it and learn from it. I feel like it was those songs that I most resisted that offered me the greatest learning potential.

It was a few years later, after I became a Brown Belt that I put together my second routine, which I called Adagio. It not only used the song of the same name, as created by Debbie, but also used my own choreography to a song from Heartland by Tim Wheater (from the Sounding routine which I had gotten at my Brown Belt but not learned yet). Adagio didn't prove to have staying power and has since fallen off my repertoire.

By this time, I was feeling confident enough to start to mix and match songs from official Nia routines to create new experiences. Even many years later, after earning my Black Belt, I still mainly taught official Nia routine songs, pieced together, and peppered with my own creations, occasionally. I remember at one point, someone told me that Caroline Kohles had advised her to look to me as an example of someone who teaches whole complete routines.

I feel like this path helped me forge a very strong connection to what a Nia routine should feel like and what elements it needs to contain. I got a visceral sense of a "Vertical Routine" and the manner in which Nia choreography synchronizes to music.

I continued this way for several years until I reached a point that I was growing uninspired by the new routines. I thought maybe I had burned out of Nia and was considering hanging up my belt and finding a new way to make a living. Despite this, and with some goading and bribery, Helen Terry, convinced me to attend a Men of Nia event at SomaRanch in Texas.

As part of the weekend, she presented her Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon routine. And this was just the spark of inspiration I needed!  I remember having the thought, "We can do that??!"  And this opened up a whole new avenue of exploration for me. I was fired up again and ready to create my own routines.

Since that fateful event, I have been creating my own, entirely original Nia routines at the rate of at least one per year. My emphasis was on pop and rock music and most of my routines focused on a particular decade:

Woodstock - (60s)
Rockin - (70s)
Frankie Say Nia - (80s)

After a few years of that, I started to get the feeling I wanted to collaborate. I began what I called the "Community Network Synergy" project, which eventually grew into the wonderful "Amazing" routine. This was my first official collaboration, with 13 different Nia communities, and it was much more rewarding than I ever imagined.

Around that same time, I also had an idea that I wanted to create a routine with all classical music, but I had a heck of a time getting anywhere on that project until I mentioned it to a colleague. She had had the same idea, but also wasn't able to get any traction on it. When we put our heads together, it was the inspiration that both of us needed, and we put together a gorgeous routine in just a matter of a couple of months. We worked entirely online, never meeting face to face during the whole process. The resulting "Orchestra" routine was sublime, and better, I think, than anything either of us could have put together on our own.

My next project was something I'd wanted to do for a long time, and that is to take an existing routine and find all new music for it, keeping the same movements. We call that 'adapting' a routine. I fell in love with the Deep Dive routine, so that's the first one I did. Funny enough, it was during the process of searching for appropriate music for that, that I serendipitously put together a whole playlist of songs that I wasn't going to use for one reason or another. Also, by accident, I discovered that this auxiliary playlist worked beautifully as an adaptation of another classic favorite routine, Fantasia. So I simultaneously adapted two routines and will present them both on my 2017 road trip as Profound and Fantastic.

And now I want to collaborate again. So I'm putting out an invitation to any Nia teacher who is motivated to create. Let's work together. I'm not sure how it will manifest, but I want to give it a shot. I have some music that I want to use, but I also want to hear what music excites you. What I love about collaborating is that it gets me outside of my world and expands my creative output.

So if you're ready to create with me, get in touch and let's get started.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sedona to Needles via Oatman (Route 66)

Everyone, at some point in their life, should drive through the town of Oatman, CA. It's not so much that Oatman is spectacular, but the drive between it and Kingman, AZ is one of my favorites. 

Originally, I had planned this:
Nia at Dancessense Studio, which meant today's drive would have been nearly 8 hours on the Int and getting up in the morning to teach class.
But it got cancelled due to lack of registrations, so I was able to cut today's drive into two parts and make the detour using the Oatman Highway.  
First, we stopped in Williams, AZ so I could eat a sandwich and River could pose on a giant rock.

This was the real authentic feeling historic highway. I got on Route 66 in Williams but got off in Seligman because it veered too far from my destination, and it wasn't too interesting out there. But in Kingman, I got back on the Mother Road and took a beautiful ride through the Mohave Desert and over the Sitgreaves Pass. This is some of the most winding and scenic roads I know of. It blows my mind. And it takes two hands to drive so I have no evidence of it. Just trust me, take the ride.

video
And the town of Oatman is kind of fun. It's "Where the Burros Run the Town". And it's true. The main feature of the town is free-roaming burros everywhere and tourists snapping photos of them. I think you can buy a bag of food to feed them and the roads are covered with poop. It takes about 50 seconds to drive through the town at 20 MPH. I captured only the briefest of videos because it was too risky to hold the camera.

video

There's a lot of empty road in the desert. But if you look carefully you can be entertained for hours. This is a little taste of what I mean...

This is the stretch of highway where you can find the old Burma-Shave sign ads. I saw several sets of them. Let's see if I can remember any. 

Listen Birds
These Signs cost Money
So Roost a While
But Don't Get Funny
Burma-Shave

He tried to pass
As fast train neared
Death didn't Draft him
He volunteered.
Burma-Shave

If hugging on the highway
Is your Sport
Trade your Car In
For a Davenport
Burma-Shave

'Twould Be more Fun
To Go by Air
If We Could Put 
These Signs Up There
Burma Shave

Cattle Crossing
Means Go Slow
That Old Bull
Is Some Cow's Beau
Burma Shave

If Daisies Are
Your Favorite Flower
Keep Pushing Up
Those Miles Per Hour
Burma-Shave

You Could Drive
A Mile A Minute
But There Is
No Future In It
Burma-Shave


video

As soon as I crossed over into California, I noticed it was about ten degrees hotter. And today, there was no pleasant cloud cover so I got the full force of it.

Needles is right near the Arizona-California state line and that's where I stopped for the night.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Flagstaff to Sedona

Usually it's only about an hour drive to Sedona but between the road construction on AZ 89A and my pulling over to properly take in the awesome beauty along the way, it took me about an hour and a half.

I was meeting Alba at her house and I was going to teach her a routine. I didn't know ahead of time which one she was going to want, so I was unable to prepare. She had her eye on Firedance, but I told her I didn't remember all of that one and I didn't take good notes on it. Also, I didn't usually teach the second half of the routine.

I ended up recalling the choreography for the first half of the routine once we played the music and she recorded me struggling to find it again. We went through and I taught her all I knew of Firedance (which turned out to be more than I thought it would. The moves just kept coming back to me as we played the music. And for the songs I couldn't remember, I described as best I could what was going on. She was fine with that because she was going to rework everything anyway. She was using this for inspiration and ideas, which it was certainly giving her.

After about three or four hours of that, we called it a day and I took River for a walk in the nearby creek. We'd been here several times before so he knew exactly where it was. He lead me down the subtle trail to the creek. There was more water in it than there has been in the three other times we've visited. I almost didn't recognize it, but he sure did. He went right to the same spots as before, and I tried to lure him to explore new places. He ate a lot of grass.

video
While we were down at the creek, I remembered a move to one of the songs that I was drawing a blank on earlier. I hummed and danced a little bit in the dirt trail as River sniffed under rocks, drank for the creek and ate more grass. (Later, I forgot to tell Alba that I had remembered it. Alas.)

Everything was going along fine until River miscalculated the depth of one of the puddles and when we thought he was going to wade across to the dry boulder, found himself neck deep in water. Before I knew what was going on, he scrambled up to the dry boulder and regained his composure. Then he took the biggest leap I've ever seen him do. Like a gymnast he cleared that giant puddle and scurried away while I cheered.

He was pretty much done with the creek at that point and was only interested in taking the trail back to the car. I wanted to play more. It was so breathtaking and serene and secluded.... my ideal place. And we had at least an hour before dinner, so there was no point in leaving. But he insisted, so I relented and headed back the way we came.

I bought some time by making a game out of leaving. I'd stop and get him to stop and hold my body like a tennis player mid volley. And I'd dance around for a second and then bolt away. He'd chase after me, and I'd quickly stop and change directions again, keeping him on his toes and locked into me. After a while, I'd let him run and he'd always, no matter how scrambled up I got him, choose to run back toward the head of the trail to the street.

We hung out by the car for a long time but it was in the direct sun and started getting really uncomfortably warm. So we walked up the street a long way and then back again. There are no sidewalks and the streets are windy and tree-lined, so we had to be aware of cars.

Alba's husband Fitz, made dinner for us and I was blown away by the taste of the tiny tomatoes that came from their friend's garden. They tasted like candy in the salad! I had to refrain myself from eating them all! It killed me when Alba's mother left a big pile of tomatoes on her plate. She wouldn't eat them, she said, because they were nightshades. I wanted to eat them off her plate. But I didn't.

I spotted a big praying mantis on my car as I took River out for his evening stroll.

And then in the morning, I noticed that it was still there.
video
Before we went to bed, I told Alba to listen to my playlists for Profound and Fantastic, since they were really fresh in my body, it would be easy to transmit to her. And if we had time and felt like it in the morning, I could show her some more choreography.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Moses Lake to Butte - Nia in Hayden

I woke up early in Moses Lake, WA and drove to Hayden, ID without incident. 

I taught class and we had a blast. I used the focus of Moving Centers for Fantasic. I wanted to get a group shot after class, and I set up my movie camera to capture our movements. I framed us and then when I got in place in the photo, I crouched down so I wasn't blocking people behind me.  But everyone followed suit and we were all crouched down for no reason. haha.

They're a really fun group and always give a very warm welcome.


video
I hung around on the big lawn in front of the fitness center and let River chase me, and a stick, and a leaf, and whatever we could find. Then we took a nice, long drive to Butte, MT.
We stopped a three rest areas for eating and stretching and relieving ourselves.
We drove through the smoke that I thought I had left behind in Seattle. It was really bad at one point and then by the time I got to Butte it wasn't quite as bad. But it wasn't as pristine as Leavenworth, nor as Seattle by the time I left. I hope I'm not following the plumes eastward.

I have a microwave in the room so I heated up some of my soup and sausage for dinner before taking River for a stroll around Butte. It seems to be a big mining town. The town symbol is an oil well.
I'm staying in 'uptown' which I guess is the old-town.


I called this an oil well, but have since learned, it is not a driller, but it's a framework that holds a pulley system attached to a platform. The platform was used to lower men and mules down into the copper mines, and to pull the loads of ore back up.  I'm told they decorate the structures for Christmastime.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Comparing Grocery Delivery Services

I've tried a few of the grocery delivery services and am going to compare them here.

This post compares:
Full Circle
Blue Apron
Hello Fresh
Sun Basket

Full Circle 

While the other three services are more of a full menu service, this one is a simple produce delivery service that buys from local farmers and puts together a box of locally sourced produce once a week. I used to love getting these boxes.  I don't mind having to come up with my own recipes and buy my meat and grains separately.
PRO: organic, local produce
CON: not a lot of variety, as the emphasis was on locally grown produce
          I eventually had to stop taking delivery from them because I couldn't communicate to the driver how it was important to lock the gate behind them after leaving the box. After several warnings, I finally had to cancel for fear of my neighbors having stuff stolen from the garage.

Hello Fresh

With this service, you choose how many meals you want per week and they deliver everything you need (except salt, pepper and olive oil) to create those menus at home. It was fun to make. The recipes were easy to follow and the food tasted great. I learned about new ingredients and even learned some cool cooking techniques from following the step by step recipes.

On the downside, I was disturbed by the large amount of packaging. For example, if a recipe called for an egg, a single egg would arrive in its own package. Everything, from a tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of rice or a single clove of garlic would all come individually packaged.

There were instructions on how to recycle the packaging, which included two very large freezer gel blocks. The instructions to get rid of the large freezer blocks were to cut off the corner and squeeze the gel into the toilet and flush it.

I eventually stopped taking delivery from them because I couldn't bear to flush the freezer gel into the water supply, and my freezer was filling up with reusable ice blocks. I contacted them and pleaded with them to take them back and reuse them, but that wasn't something they would do.

Blue Apron

This service is exactly like Hello Fresh: all the necessary produce, meat, dairy and grains to make meals from the included recipe cards are packed into a box and left on the doorstep once a week.

The meals were nearly as good as Hello Fresh, although if I had to choose, I'd say the Hello Fresh ones tasted slightly better. For example, if Hello Fresh wanted you to rub a dry spice blend on the meat before cooking it might include a bit of cumin and a bit of cinnamon or whatever. But with Blue Apron, you'd get a bag labeled "chicken spices" and not really know what was in it.  I preferred the simpler and more transparent approach of Hello Fresh.

But what I do like about Blue Apron is that they have a recycling program. All of the packaging that isn't tainted by raw meat can be rinsed and placed back into the box. After two or more weeks worth of packaging is accumulated, including the ice packs, you go online and print out a mailing label to send everything back to them through the Postal Service. I reuse one of the boxes they sent to me.

Sun Basket

Another of the menu services, I was attracted to this one because they claim to be all or mostly organic, which was something I missed when using Hello Fresh and Blue Apron. Perhaps due to this, the price of Sun Basket was about $2 more per meal than the cost of meals through the other two services, which were about equal.

The ice pack was also different. These were made of 98% water and 2% organic cotton, so they say you can just drain it into the trash and the water would evaporate, leaving just a bit of cotton fluff in the garbage. The casing, they say, is then to be rinsed and recycled. Otherwise, the plethora of packaging was the same situation as I found in Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. 

Sun Basket claimed that all of the packaging was recyclable, but offered no means to recycle, so I needed to use my own bin. Many of the item, like single serving plastic cups for a tablespoon of barbecue sauce, claimed to be compostable, but only in commercial facilities.  I didn't compose them, but rinsed them and put in the recycling.

Another disturbing thing about the Sun Basket packaging was the foam liner. Two giant sheets of plastic foam that was recyclable, but I think entirely unnecessarily wasteful. They included two large stickers to use to seal them into a roll for throwing into the bin. A lot of trash and waste.



But what really blew it for Sun Basket in my mind was the recipe selection. They didn't offer much of what I'd consider well balanced meals. I could choose between 'paleo', 'vegan', 'low calorie', or 'breakfast'.  One of the meals I chose was a delicious turkey burger, but they supplied a wedge of iceberg lettuce instead of a proper bun. This upset me, as I'm not on any trendy faddish restrictive diet, and there were NO choices for people like me who prefer 'normal' meals. 

So for the time being, I'm back with Blue Apron, which seems to be the best of all worlds. I only use three meals per week through them and I get delivery on Saturday morning, so it's nice to know that I have all of my meals for the weekend without having to plan or shop. 

Here is what I made for lunch today. It took about half an hour to make, as most of the recipes do. And while I'm a skilled cook, I think these recipes are fairly user friendly and most people could make these meals easily.

 The first step of all the recipes is to get Mise en Place.
Salmon filet, lime cilantro rice and spicy peach salsa. Yummm! 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Healthful Eating on the Road

Every new town I visit, I have to search for healthy places to eat and places that are ok with dogs.

I'm putting these links here so I have them as a reference along my travels and in case they might serve anyone else looking for healthy food choices in a strange neighborhood. I've also uncovered some unknown gems in my own neighborhood using some of these sites.

Eat Well Guide
search engine for finding health minded food establishments by city

Healthy Dining Finder
search by city for restaurants that offer healthy eating options

Green People
huge listing of health food stores and healthy restaurants searchable by zip code

Happy Cow
a resource for vegan and vegetarian store and restaurant options, by zip code

Primo Water
search for filtered water dispensers, including Primo and Glacier waters

Natural Grocers
chain store selling organic and healthful foods

When I travel with River, eating is easily the most difficult task I face. I shouldn't really leave him in the car, or in a motel room or tied up outside while I go into a restaurant or grocery store, but it's just him and me, so I have very few other options. I could go exclusively to drive-thru restaurants, but that's not very good food, usually. And, if I'm driving all day, the last thing I want to do is stay sitting in my car while I order and eat my food. Usually I try to find a shady spot in the parking lot and go either early in the morning or in the evening when it isn't so hot, run quickly into a store or restaurant, leaving River in the car, with the windows down, and shopping in a big hurry. I know I run the risk of someone approaching River and getting bitten, or of someone stealing River or the car or both. I've had plenty of occasions where a concerned citizen chastised me on my cruel mistreatment of the poor dog, which I have to take on the chin as I know it isn't very cool.

To make things even more challenging, I'm mostly into wholesome, fresh healthy food. Burgers are OK once in a while but on that last trip, when I lived on burgers, I gained 20 pounds and got sick twice. I was experimenting with it as a solution to this food problem, but it clearly is not the way to go.

Sometimes, when I stop at places to teach a class, one or several of the community will want to do something nice for me, and buy me some food. This is enormously helpful!

Sometimes, I'm taken to a cute cafe where they'll allow River to come in and lie on the floor while we eat. That is nice. Many times, though, I can't spare the time it would take and sadly have to decline the offer. Or other times, the place we go to might be a bit TOO dog-friendly and we have to contend with River reacting to all the other canines in the place throughout our meal.

I've been given gift cards to food establishments that serve good healthy food. This is greatly appreciated, but still doesn't really help with the most difficult aspect of eating on the road with a dog in tow, which is the actual procuring of the food.

I have this fantasy that I could trade some of my pay for groceries. If I could get paid partially in wholesome and healthy foods that stored well, even without good refrigeration, that would really streamline my life. That would be worth a lot to me.

When I spent a week at Embody Movement Studio, the owner, Christina Mae Wolf, said she wanted to stock the refrigerator for me and asked what I'd like. She did an amazing job and I made a mental note of what she purchased because it seemed like a nearly ideal shopping list for easy but healthful food options on the road.

All of the products were "O Organic" brand except for a few but all products were organic.

peanut butter
jelly
sprouted grain bread
tuna in cans
soup in boxes
cheese
vinaigrette dressing
baby spinach
mixed baby greens
raw baby carrots
raw snap peas
grapes
bananas
eggs
crackers
hummus
microwave popcorn
instant oatmeal

(and I had packed and brought)

raw cauliflower
apple
pear
cheese
cooked shredded chicken
homemade cookies
six jars of fermented vegetables
black organic ground coffee

And all of this kept me fed for nearly a whole week. If I could manage to get just a fraction of that every three days or so, I'd be free from having to forage from town to town.




Saturday, July 1, 2017

My Week at Embody in Centralia

I love teaching at Embody Movement Studio in Centralia, WA. The building is old brick and wood and feels like it's full of history. But inside is a gorgeous, brand new finished wood floor and one mirrored wall with a giant exposed brick wall behind. Multi-adjustable lighting that can go from meditation dim to pretty bright without ever feeling glaring or jarring. The surround sound stereo speakers installed in each upper corner of the room help fill the space nicely, even when the ceiling fans and all three floor fans are on. There's two different kinds of microphone to choose from. The students there are devoted and passionate. They're eager to learn and willing to try new things. It's a joy to present my work here.

So when the owner, Christina Wolf, asked if I could come and spend a week teaching the whole Nia schedule while the teachers went to Dance Camp in Idaho, I was thrilled to be able to say yes. She has a loft that serves as a living quarters upstairs in the back. It has a bed, a desk, a table, a refrigerator/freezer, a microwave, and a kitchen sink. There's a shower in one of the studio bathrooms downstairs, easily accessible from the loft.


Christina was also kind enough to stock the place for me. The refrigerator was literally as full as it could be with all things I liked: fresh organic vegetables and fruit, eggs, cheese, yogurt, oil and vinegar salad dressing, hummus, and a couple of cans of seltzer water. The cupboards were also stocked: with bread, tuna, oatmeal, popcorn, soup, peanut butter (and jelly in the refrigerator), coffee, tea, coconut oil, olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar. I was blown away and so happy I wasn't going to have to forage for fast food in the small town of Centralia.

I arrived Friday evening and Christina showed me around before taking off for Dance Camp. River and I got settled in and explored the alley out back which was destined to be our easy-access pee spot. I realized, when it came to dinnertime, that I had forgotten to bring River's prescription anti-anxiety medication. He was getting a bit antsy. But it was too late to do anything about it. I decided that the best thing to do would be to go back to Seattle after my afternoon workshop. Fortunately, the following day, (Sunday) I only had an evening class to teach, so could stay Saturday night in Seattle and come back to Centralia on Sunday in plenty of time to teach. Though it is only 85 miles of highway, it is a notoriously heavily trafficked area. It once took me five hours to make that journey! Two to three hours isn't uncommon. So I wouldn't consider making the trip if I didn't have at least five hours to spare in each direction. Lucky for River, I did. But he'd have to 'white knuckle it' until Saturday night.

This weekend happened to be the Hot Rod Festival. So all weekend, every motorhead from miles around brought out their noisiest gear and sputtered down the main drag revving sans muffler for all to enjoy. Being a New Yorker at heart, it wasn't unsettling. I'm just glad I knew it was the Hot Rod Festival or I'd just think everyone in Centralia liked to drive huge obnoxiously noisy muscle cars and trucks.

Saturday, June 24

Profound

I had planned to teach this routine several times this week, spending half the week getting it really tight to take on my Aug/Sept road trip. And I was planning to spend the other half of the week working deeply on Fantastic, my other 2017 routine for the trip as well. But what I was hearing from the students was that they'd love to get a variety of routines from me. I told them I could easily do that, and was excited to dust off all my routines for the week. But I went ahead and taught Profound first, since I was ready to go with it. 

I began by explaining how it was adapted from Deep Dive. I set the focus to be on all of the different water-like movements we can make and all the choices we have of what form of water we connect to moving like. We moved like waves, and currents, splashes, and drips, we floated like steam and spun like a cyclone. 

The last time I taught the routine, a student mentioned his issues with the FreeDance section of the song "Spirit Bird". So I made an adjustment in how I presented the song this morning and it seemed to cover the bases. The same student, at my encouragement, also gave me some feedback that he was having a hard time connecting to the movements in the Propellerheads song. And I saw him struggling during that song so I knew what he meant. This time, I took his note subconsciously. I hadn't made any choice to fix, it, but due to a missed cue, I discovered a way to avoid that awkwardness he was experiencing and it did flow better today. 

I asked the students after class today for any feedback, and specifically mentioned that I'd like to hear about negative reactions or confusion about the routine so I can improve it. But I only got thumbs up and positive comments. And I felt good about the routine. I still have yet to make it through one song without an error. That is "Mi Mujer" by Nicholas Jaar. It's a great song and I have it choreographed tightly, I just can't execute it yet. I keep missing cues and doing the wrong move for the music section I wanted to do it in. Once it all comes together and I can cue it all in synchronicity, it's going to rock! 

Martial Arts in Nia (workshop)

I started this workshop cold. Without explaining myself, at the start time of the workshop, I put on a song and started clapping and drawing attention to myself. The song was Calling All Angels, the opening song to my Amazing routine. The curtains were covering the mirror, so we didn't have a front point of reference, but they quickly fell into step as I was simply shifting my weight back and forth with a big grin on my face. And I simply told the class to shift their weight and I directed them to do so to 12 and 6 o'clock. I explained the clock concept as I had them switch which numbers they were shifting to to 3 and 9 o'clock. And then I got fancy and had them wandering through the room and stop and shift on the numbers I called out. After the song ended i explained that I was showing them the power of using the clock as a cuing tool and went on to explain how we learned that from Tai Chi. 

Then I did an introduction and had all the students say a few words about what they wanted to experience. We all seemed to be on the same page, so that was good. Mostly they wanted to learn how to be grounded and to use the powerful movements efficiently. 

I spoke a little bit about the many influences of Aikido, Tai Chi and Tae Kwon Do in the formation of Nia. I gave a little history of what each art is all about and I described how we attribute things we do in Nia to them. 

I did some exercises that gave us a strong appreciation for the power and the purpose of the Slow Dance. We had a discussion and I did a demonstration of the power and purpose of the Dance of Harmonious Spherical Action and then we applied both of those things to songs that I had taught in the mornings class. But with the new activities and awareness, they got a visceral experience of the Martial Arts energy, why it's there and how to use it. 

I spent a good deal of time discussing the blocks, punches, strikes and kicks. I explained their function in Tae Kwon Do and what we learn from that art and apply to our work in Nia. I gave them an experience of the Dance of Precision by not only demonstrating the proper body mechanics, but explaining the purpose behind them. Then I went back to a song from Profound with the same choreography as Warriors by Winalee in the Deep Dive routine. With all the work we had just done on the blocks, kicks and punches, they could really feel the art at play in Nia. 

I spoke a little bit about the purpose of the vocalization "Kya!" that we often do when using explosive movements. I explained how it can be used and how it can be wasted or abused. 

The final lesson was an application of a combination of the Dance of Precision and the Dance of Harmonious Spherical Action, when I broke down the exact mechanics and the purpose behind the move we call the Turn/Return. I finished up that lesson by another song from Profound, and we could feel the turning in a deeper, more grounded way due to our connection to its origin in Aikido. 

I feel very good about what we covered and I'm confident that the students in attendance will feel many moments of connection to the martial arts in the future as they appreciate the power and purpose behind slowing down, harmoniously turning and being precise while practicing Nia. 

Sunday, June 25

I woke up in Seattle and had a leisurely drive back to Centralia. I allowed myself six hours before class and made the trip in just over two hours. Until I was on the drive south, I had no idea what routine I was going to teach that night. But as I drove I felt I had an urge to listen to music, and when I put my system on, the first thing I heard was some classical music. At that moment I decided that it felt really right to do my classical music routine on Sunday evening. So I listened through it on my drive, going over the choreography in my head. 

Orchestra

I explained how I co-created this routine over the internet with Marcelle Rudnick in Kansas City. I described my concept of the members of the orchestra being compared to our body parts, and the whole symphony compared to our body moving in dance. I invited them to focus on the 13 joints for the purpose of crafting their own unique contribution to the full Orchestra of the class. 

Embody has a great sound system, so I was able to find a sound level that worked in the really quiet spots and wasn't too deafening in the loud moments. So we were able to connect to the music during the snare in Bolero and not be afraid when the cannons blast in the 1812 Overture. There was a sea of smiles throughout this routine as well as some passionately glowing reviews afterward, so I think the routine went over well.  Personally, I had a great time revisiting the routine and experiencing it anew with this lovely group. Several women were delighted to share that they'd never connected to this music like they did this evening. 

Monday, June 25

Living Sage

The class on the schedule this morning was Nia Moving To Heal, which is a slightly differently focused Nia class format. It emphasizes the gentler, more nurturing and healing aspects of Nia and is considered ideal for beginners or those dealing with pain or injuries. 

Several years ago, when I had created my Rock & Roll Nia routine and was taking it on tour, I was asked to put together a very low key version especially for some ladies at a health spa called Living Sage. The teacher explained to me that just walking was exercise enough for most of them, and to expect many of them to be in chairs. So I tweaked and gave them a good, gentle movement class but using my Rock & Roll music. I loved the experience with them, and I had saved the playlist all this time, thinking I'd teach it again. But I never had occasion to pull it out again, until today. 

I joked with them in the beginning of class today that this will probably be the first time you hear rock and roll music being played in a healing class. But I promised them that even good old electric guitar music can be healing if it's used that way. I explained to them that they didn't have to impress anyone or prove anything to anyone and that they were here to take care of their bodies. I told them not to do anything they didn't want to, no matter what I said. And I encouraged them to do their own versions of anything I did. I prepared them that during the Blue Man Group song "Time To Start" I was going to have them jump up and down. And I demonstrated how one could 'jump' in spirit without their feet ever leaving the ground. 

I used the following playlist and kept all the choreography very grounded and left a lot of room for individualization. Some of the songs are from my Woodstock routine and some from my Rockin routine. Some were created just for this routine and one was a Carlos Rosas Classic Nia song. 

Last Train Home - Pat Metheny
Speak To Me/Breathe - Pink Floyd
White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane
Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin
Low Rider - War
Hello, I Love You - The Doors
Feel Like Making Love - Bad Company
The Mighty Quinn - Manfred Mann
Everyday People - Sly & The Family Stone
Time to Start - Blue Man Group
We Will Rock You - Queen
The World Needs All the Good - Jana Stanfield
Great Gig in the Sky - Pink Floyd
Beth - Kiss

Rockin'

I wanted to keep the classic rock theme going for the day, so for the evening class, I chose to do one of my older routines. This was a lot of great classic Rock & Roll songs from the 60's and 70's. We had a full room and were drenched with sweat by the time we were done. People were saying afterwards that they had a great time, and no one had anything bad to say, so I think it went well.

Afterwards, as I recapitulated the experience, I noticed how apparent it was to me that I made this routine so many years ago. And since then, I've been through a lot, including a terrible knee injury and my First Degree Black Belt training. So when I look back at the Rockin routine now, I'm aware that there is something missing. I believe that the routine would benefit from a slight tweak, adding a gentle nurturing moment or two.

Maybe I should put in some Fleetwood Mac or Moody Blues.  

I focused on the High Middle and Low planes, which usually guarantees a full body workout experience, and tonight was no exception. 

Tuesday, June 27

Yulunga

I felt like I've been offering a lot of intensity to this group. I'm enjoying sharing with them my take on Nia, which is leaning towards popular music and with an athletic energy to it. But today I wanted to show some balance. I wanted them to know that I also have a nurturing, spiritual side and that we can get a good workout without loud exciting music. 

The music of Dead Can Dance has a beautiful blend of spirit, reverence, joy and dance. It lays the ideal groundwork for a focus on Tai Chi energy and weight shifting. This morning, I enjoyed presenting this classic routine created by Debbie Rosas. Most of the routine is all from one album, "Into the Labyrinth", with a couple of songs off of the "Spirit Chaser" album at the end. 

The word "Yulunga" is from an Aborigine language, and it means "playful or spirited dance." We lived up to that moniker this morning. One student confessed that the intensity of this routine snuck up on her. The focus we used, moving 'slowly' even when we're moving quickly, has a tendency to do that. 

Amazing

I have a strange relationship to this routine. It was created by 13 different Nia communities under my orchestration. And whenever I listen to the playlist, I get really emotional and nearly always get teary or choked up. But it never happens when I'm teaching, no matter how much I open myself up for it. 

I decided to bring it to Embody for tonight's class, so while I went over the playlist beforehand, I was crying a little bit as I remembered the fun times I had and how impressed I am with the creativity I was able to harness for the routine.

But, when I teach it, I get a different feeling. The choreography is very busy and complex. I feel the missing simplicity detracts from the ultimate power of the routine. A lot of repetition is a good thing in this work, and the mostly inexperienced people putting together the choreography all make the very common beginners error of putting too much in and not letting anything percolate long enough.
So, the result is (and this was happening in tonight's class) that people are not picking up on the steps before it's time to move onto a new one. As I say, "the moves come fast and furious in this one". 

It's not that the music speed is fast, or that the movements themselves are inappropriately fast, but that there's too many changes and not enough staying with.  So, it's a really fun routine, but also a bit frustrating for that reason. 

The group seemed to have a good time and smile and laugh a lot throughout. We took a picture of our sweaty selves afterward.

Wednesday, June 28

Chakra Awakening

For today's Moving To Heal class, I wanted to give the students a completely different experience than my Rock & Rock healing class on Monday. So today I combined Debbie Rosas' "ChakraDancer" routine with my own "Awakening" routine and some other Nia songs to create a customized routine for today. I'll call it Chakra Awakening.

In the spirit of ChakraDancer, I didn't give verbal cues during the class. We call it a silent class, even though that may be a bit of misnomer. There is music playing, just no speaking. As a group, we connected on a deeper level since I gave only physical cues and even suggested that some of our communication might come from a deeper place than physical and asked them to turn on their emotional and spiritual "ears" and be awakened to that deeper connection between us. 

In addition to five songs from ChakraDancer, which I used to open and close the class, I also used:
Cool, Cool River - Paul Simon
A Different Drum - Peter Gabriel
Pursuit - African Head Charge
The Warriors Prayer (Second Movement) - Tim Wheater

Afterwards, we were all speechless. (Seems appropriate to me.) After teaching using this silent method, I have the urge to maintain the silence all day. Generally, I notice even groups that usually applaud vigorously after a class, tend to not clap or do so very lightly or silently when it was a silent class. More often, other gestures of celebratory gratitude emerge. People use prayer hands, or tap their hearts or wiggle their fingers to protect the sacred silence we've created. As the teacher, I remain quiet and blow kisses or make the Namaste gesture or pantomime a group hug. I wait for the students to break the silence. Some leave without saying a word and others speak in hushed tones. It's an amazing feeling afterward. "No words for it," described one student. Yes, as it should be. :)

Although I don't think said anything about chakras before class, I was giving them a lot of attention. I had actually meant to talk a little bit about what I was doing with the chakras, but when I was Setting the Focus for class, I forgot to mention them. One student remarked afterward "that was the best chakra workout I've ever had."  Another said simply "cathartic" and another was surprised at how much she sweat and got a good workout when all the movements appeared to be small. I was demonstrating a lot of intrinsic movements and also reacquainting them with the surprising power of moving slowly. that we experienced in the Martial Arts in Nia Playshop. 

One of the students expressed concern that she was going to forget all of the changes she's been going through during my time at Embody. She didn't want to go back to her old self. I re-assured her that all of the learning she is doing is in her body; not in her head. So if she's searching for it in her head, she'll come up empty. But I advised her to trust the wisdom of her body. I told her that her body will remember all of the ways toward ease and pleasure that she is experiencing. It is what the body craves. So as long as she doesn't put too much attention on thinking about it, all of these new changes will be available to her from her body long after I've gone. 

Goldfinger

The people here probably think I'm a bit crazy. As people gathered for class tonight, I was in my disco leopard pants and playing deep house music and asking everyone to wear the prism glasses to get into the spirit of tonight's routine. Traditionally, I announce that we should 'wear something shiny' for doing the Goldfinger routine, but it was on a whim that I taught it tonight, and didn't have time to tell anyone.

I pointed out that each one of us was a genius at whatever we do, and offered that smiling was the best way to unlock that genius. I compared us to crystals and set the intention to "Shimmer Your Radiant Brilliance". The Focus was on the spine (pelvis, chest, and head).

There were a few katas that proved challenging to the group today. They're really good at doing the moves properly and they hardly ever need notes on execution of the moves. and they do have a willingness to try anything, which I think is all very healthy and a sign of having a good teacher. 
(Not myself, of course, but the teachers that I'm filling in for at Embody.)  This routine has a few odd syncopations in it, and some complex counting in it which challenges us to keep our mind and body both fit and working together. 

I noticed something during the FloorPlay section tonight, and it happened also in the FloorPlay last night. Several full voice conversations begin to break out amongst the students. I feel like it might be an escape mechanism if they don't like the FloorPlay. Or it may be that they aren't used to seeing FloorPlay used as an exercise. Some teachers really only view and use FloorPlay as a 'relax and stretch' moment, which is awesome. I love doing those too. But in some of my routines, I like to include sort-of-choreographed FloorPlay experiences, and I can't hear my cues when the students are talking. I also wonder how I would feel as a student in class if the people next to me started talking to each other and I couldn't hear the teacher or the music. It gets a little chaotic and I feel like I've lost their attention.  I'm not sure what I'm doing to lose the group this way. It's something I'm going to ponder. 

I asked them afterwards how they felt about FloorPlay and I didn't get the sense that they particularly didn't care for it, i n general, but they did mention they weren't used to my style of it. 

After class, I and several of the students stayed in the studio and discussed our Nia experiences passionately for about 45 minutes until the cleaning crew showed up and scooted us out. 

Thursday, June 29

Fantastic (silent)

It was a brave undertaking, but the Nia is strong in this group so I felt like we could pull it off. Not only did we pull it off, (and I don't know how it was for the students) but it was transformative for me. I felt my self sink into a deeper layer of understanding the art of teaching. And, in fact, a little piece about myself that has bothered me was touched upon today.

I was surprised at how well I knew the routine; that was a concern of mine going in, since it was so freshly created and yet not recently practiced. But the big 'a-ha!' came when I noticed how a majority of the class was easily transmitted to the students non-verbally. I felt a strong, visceral awareness of which verbalization were essential, and realized that I spend way too much energy speaking about obviously visible things. Whereas, if I were to practice teaching the moves in the manner I did this morning, I'd be free to illuminate other aspects of the movement' perhaps the energetics of it, or some helpful imagery. This would not only make my teaching more colorful and dynamic, but it will also address the over-talking issue I have with myself.

I am excited that after decades of teaching Nia, I'm still growing and learning and improving my art, skill and craft.

After class, since I had asked for feedback per usual, a woman approached and told me that she would have appreciated it if I gave some warning that there was going to be a lot of leg work or deep squatting in the routine. I didn't understand, at first, what she meant by that, so we had a lengthy discussion about it, for which I am grateful to her. Once we got on the same track, I knew what she was saying, and thanked her for the help. She was right. At first I thought she meant that when I spoke before the music starts, that I should say something like "There are going to be a lot of squat movements in the routine....." because she said she'd have liked more 'warning'. But after we discussed, I realized that she was indeed talking about an error I was making in the presentation of the choreography. At the moment, we attributed it to the fact that I was teaching silently and couldn't effectively talk about the movement in preparation for it.

But just an hour later as I was taking River on his walk, and mulling over the deep conversation, I realized exactly what she meant. Another bad habit of mine was exposed here, and I'm thankful to that student for alerting me to it. I tend to go right away into the completed move on its first appearance in a routine. Especially when I'm new to the routine. I guess I get too excited and forget to include everyone. After I get more experience teaching a routine, I find the places where I should pull back and demonstrate a progression of intensity. And that flashed! The word progression as it relates to showing Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. I was hearing "preparing" as being warned, braced or armed, but she was using it to mean, "setting the stage for, easing into progressively". So I will take that note and definitely include it among all the other things I learned when I teach it again tonight.

On our long walk River and I discovered a rainbow of bicycle sculptures scattered throughout the area. We couldn't find the purple one, though.






Fantastic (with cues)

Based on what I learned from the silent class this morning, I set a Teacher Focus for tonight's class: "I'm only allowed to talk ABOUT the moves, not describe them. Except for those places that I discovered this morning would benefit from more advance notice, gradual building in intensity or further explanation, I'm going to invite a lot more of the silence into my teaching style."  

It was another great lesson for me tonight. I knew the routine so much better this morning. So it showed me that my own cuing was distracting me from the choreography. The class went fine, truth be told. It was fun to play with that secret focus and also stay focused on the Focus I had set for class which was the same as this morning, Moving Center. I described how each particular movement has its own center or centers, and set the Intention to Sense the Ease of Control from the Center(s). 

I put in the change on the first song, as the student this morning suggested. I made the first one very slight and described how it was done by relaxing and then catching yourself so there was no effort on the way down, just gravity. I gradually got deeper and deeper, and the students all seemed to find their own comfortable depths. 

I think I figured something out about FloorPlay today. It isn't just Floor)Play that got them to chat, but when the FloorPlay became FloorFreeDance, which I often do. That might bring out the inner child or something. But I did notice that in both classes today, everyone was completely silent during the FloorPlay. It was tightly choreographed. In the morning session I attributed it to the silent teaching, but when it happened again tonight, I realized it was the choreography. 

There was only one student who attended both the morning session and the evening. She said afterward that she preferred the one with the cues. I smiled because I had the opposite experience, but I let her go on to explain that when I don't give cues, she tends to go into her own head and stops paying attention to the class. And I didn't tell her this, but I was having the feeling that when I wasn't giving cues this morning, the group was riveted to me and got the movements very quickly. But tonight, I felt like my speaking was actually distracting them and allowing them to pay less careful attention. 

After class, River and I went to Centralia College to hang out on the big lawn near the clock tower. On the way, we saw this. I'm not sure if it counts as purple though.

I felt sad as I walked past a big hole in the side of the Fox Theater building. It's the one right next to Embody. I can hear someone doing heavy pounding throughout the day, so I guess this hole is what they're doing. I'm sad that they are disassembling the mural. 

Friday, June 30

Dream Song

Dream Song isn't actually a routine, but that's what I called today's class. It was a blend of mostly Dream, with songs from Soul, Cadence, Chakras and one of my own, from a routine I call AyĆ©, which means "life" in Swahili . The last song today was called "Song Is' by Vangelis, so that's where the name of the routine came from, by combining Dream with Song Is. 

The Focus was on The Power of Three. I spoke about recognizing that it is partially the student's responsibility to create their experience in class by bringing attention and awareness and being proactive about their movements. Our intention was to notice "What We Bring" to the relationship created by the teacher connecting with the student. I suggested that we practice recognizing the patterns of movement that we call 'katas' in Nia. The goal is to create a bit more autonomy and reduce the perceived need to cling to the teacher to alert the student to every change, but rather to fall into a repetition and trust that it will repeat until the teacher brings a new pattern. 

It was a wonderful class and it was a Focus I'd never attempted to share before. I feel like it is a valuable lesson and it seemed to go over well and to create a change in the level of involvement the students had in their own experience. 

The song "Smiling" by Jazzbox (featuring Louis Armstrong) is six and a half minutes long, but we did one single pattern the whole time. We used the power of repetition and freedom to tweak and express to create our individual dance within the pattern. 

At the end, during "Song Is" in FloorPlay, I explained the scientific reasoning behind holding stretches for longer than 75 seconds and up to five minutes if we want to increase our flexibility. So we spent about two minutes holding only three stretches and then stood up and test drove our brand new bodies. 

After class, I took River for a long walk. I was determined not to accept that the pink bicycle was to represent purple in the rainbow. The pink ones were situation across from the blue ones as if making a comment about gender? So we walked PAST THE RED, where I'd think the rainbow would end and we'd find the pot of gold. But no, then there was a yellow one and I was thoroughly confused. But I kept going in the same direction. I was going to go until we went a whole block without seeing any bikes. And at last, lo and behold, our quest was fulfilled. We had found the purple bicycle!

 We also found an old hot rod truck that I thought was pretty cool.


The Nuts and Bolts of FreeDance Playshop

This work always blows me away. The change that I see come over people in such a short amount of time is so delightful and incredibly rewarding. I love this work and I love it when people get it. This time was no exception. We spent the first half an hour talking about what our notions of FreeDance were and what about that scared us and I wrote it all down on the board. I then presented some of the tools of Free Dancing until we could erase all of the fears from the board because they were no longer an issue. We ended up with a board full of tools we could use to inspire our FreeDancing in Nia classes, no matter what's going on. By the end of the experience we were absolutely a roomful of FreeDance juggernauts. I could sense their eagerness to go into a Nia class and be asked to Free Dance! The shy ones were suddenly bold. The repetitive ones were now creative. The unsure had become confident. We learned that it was ok to be serious about it, and ok to be silly. But more fun to be silly. 
Two hours into the three hour workshop, I took a poll of the students. The poll in itself was a kick. We gathered in clumps in designated spots in the room as ways to cast our vote for how we wanted to spend the last hour. As we discussed the three choices and got more clarity around what each experience would entail, people would hop from cluster to cluster, changing their votes, until it was eventually pretty clear that we had a strong majority.
The choices were to 
A) continue as we had been, adding more and more tools and trying them out
B) do a regular Nia class but with a lot of moments of FreeDancing in it.
C) a Nia FreeDance class.

We went with C. We had an amazing time dancing for an hour as I played DJ. I sometimes got into the mix and danced with them, because they were so compelling and having such a good time, I couldn't not join them. But I stayed alert to the music and the feeling of the group, and guided them through the four parts of Nia Free Dance class. I didn't have a playlist in mind going in. I was jumping in the river and then learning to swim. But I cued up songs I selected from my iTunes and from Spotify playlists I'd be putting together as possible to use in Nia Free Dance. 

Here is a link to most of the playlist I used. Two songs are missing because I played them off my iTunes and couldn't find them in Spotify when I built this list from my history after class. 

Commitments

I don't know what compelled me to pull this one out, but this goes WAY back. It is one of the first routines I ever learned and while I didn't particularly care much for the music, the moves are fun and people seem to go nuts for the music. 

Such was the case this morning. Even when I was setting the focus on The Joy Of Movement, as soon as I mentioned Commitments, several of the students cheered in delight. My host, Christina was scheduled to be back this morning, so I was prepared to pull out some of the songs for her to co-teach something as a welcome home.  But when I saw her this morning, she said she'd prefer to be a student in receiving mode, so I taught the whole routine.

It was a packed room and everyone seemed to be having a great time. I was surprising myself with how well I remembered the routine. I remembered it so well, in fact, that during one song, I could tell right away that I had used the wrong version. Originally I had the music on cassette tape! So I had to rebuild the playlist on Spotify, and I guess I chose the wrong version of "More Love, Less Attitude" by Curtis Salgado. As I said, I could tell right away something was off about the energy of the song, but it was the same song. I really knew I had a different version when the darn song wouldn't end! It must've been two whole minutes longer than the original version, so I had to 'riff' until the end of the song. 

The routine ends with three songs from the Twin Peaks TV show soundtrack (The original one, on ABC). It was interesting for me to do this today because back when I was first teaching the routine in the 90's, I wasn't so good at leading FloorPlay. So as I led it today and it was all going perfectly smoothly, it felt weird. The music and the moves triggered those old feelings like I was off or lost or something. Feelings that didn't match how in control and on the music I was. I almost had an out of body experience as I successfully pulled off what I had such strong memories of choking on. So, on a personal level it was a perfect end to a perfect week.

Teaching to this group was a joy from beginning to end. I really fell in love with Embody Movement Studio and I am eager for another opportunity to come back and visit.