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.

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