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Dancer In The Dark (And How I Saw It)

    darkdancersThe other day my dear, dancing friend from Sirena Tales guided me towards a cool site that lists every class in NYC. I popped over to Dance ‘n Tell to take a peek, and was immediately drawn towards Nia Love — happening the very next day at Abrams Art Center– a mere 1 block from my place.

    I had taken Nia before, I even posted on it here. So I considered myself lucky to have stumbled upon this offering so close to home.

    Then I read the class description.

    It wasn’t Nia Dance. It was the instructor Nia Love who would be teaching Modern Roots — stacking sequential rhythmic patterns built on cardio and core work with an urban approach that partners-up with African, postmodern, Butoh, funk and blues sensibilities.

    Okay, I definitely got the cardio and core work. African– I have tried it before. But postmodern, Butoh, funk and blues –not so much. And what is stacking sequential rhythmic patterns?

    I wavered back and forth on whether to go, but with a little encouragement from my dear dancing friend, and my own thought process which values the discomfort that accompanies personal growth– I decided to go for it.

    After arriving a bit early, I spoke to Nia to get some more info on the class. I’m not a *real* dancer so didn’t want to be thrown in the deep end with a bunch of pros. She confirmed that indeed it was open. We would be moving our bodies for expression, and will hopefully learn something as well.


    Class began in a circle of introductions. Nia told us about her herself — which included her yoga and pilates background.

    This is getting even better.

    The introductions continued around the room revealing a diverse bunch of choreographers, movement artists, another yoga and pilates person and an aerial silks guy.

    Aerial silks!

    Then we went into the warm up which did have some yoga and pilates stuff thrown in.  I was feeling pretty great holding my plank pose while we went around the room announcing our birthdays — mine was the previous day, so that was fun. Then I learned the others were born while I was in high school.

    Next, it was time to move across the floor.
    And let me just say, there were no run-run-leaps going across this floor.
    It was real-deal choreography– the kind of stuff I LOVE watching others do –in poly rhythms, and a lot of fast ‘n fancy footwork (counting in trios nonetheless!)

    In yoga, there are a plenty of poses that I can’t do– handstand, scorpion, king pigeon, to name a few– but my body understands how to practice getting into those poses. My body doesn’t really do choreography so well.

    I started off okay. Ish. But as soon as more moves were added ( is that the stacking part of the online class description?) I got lost.

    There was a moment– just before my turn–the sweet French guy with 10 years of dance experience asked me if we were starting on the right or left.

    I didn’t even know MY right from left, let alone the choreographed right and left.

    Then Nia chimed in.
    Feel the funk. This isn’t serious. Have fun!

    Well, I’m always down to get funky with Fela Kuti, or whatever that Afro-Cuban blend she was blasting.

    So I felt it.

    Did it help my steps? Um, maybe a teeny bit.
    But it helped my soul. My moves became my expression.

    Will this become a regular movement practice for me? It could.
    And I bet it would feel pretty EFFIN’ fantastic to express my moves IN that choreography.

    Daft Punk said it well.

    Doin’ it right
    Everybody will be dancing
    And we’ll be feeling it right
    Everybody will be dancing
    And be doin’ it right
    Everybody will be dancing
    When we’re feeling all right

    What’s your experience in taking class outside your comfort zone?

    5 thoughts on “Dancer In The Dark (And How I Saw It)”

    1. ST, Thank you for all of it. No need to apologize for causing me unhappiness. I was not unhappy. I was challenged, and confronted by my fears of looking ignorant, clumsy and foolish. I was out of my comfort zone, and that’s a good thing! I got to express myself in a new way. And that communication aspect you write of betw. teacher/ student and other students is useful info to take with me next time. Perhaps one of these days we will get to be in class together! xoxo

    2. SirenaTales

      FANTASTIC YOU! FANTASTIC POST! TT, You are intrepid, and an inspiration. I do want to apologize for any unhappiness I may have caused. That said, I think you are amazing not only to have taken this risk, but then to have stuck with it AND made it your own. And even forged new territory for yourself-so exciting, and unnerving. Believe me, I get it, even after all of these decades of moving. I STILL am embarrassed, uncertain, self-critical, etc.–a lot. What I strive to focus on at this point, with varying success, is that dance class is a dialogue. Between the teacher and me, but also between me and the other dancers, and within myself. It is about what the teacher is trying to express and have me express. Just as you found in “finding the funk” and expressing that, thereby “succeeding,” I try very hard to get at the nugget of the communication. Which means I often do not get the steps precisely. But I may get how the movement is supposed to feel, or make the viewer feel. As you know, that’s a lot harder, including because (almost) no one wants to look ignorant, clumsy, foolish. You are spot on with the Daft Punk quote. Now I want to go to class WITH you. Rick on, GF. Xoxo

    3. SirenaTales

      Oh, yay for all of that! Thank you. Your soul’s grace speaks through your words and your movement. Stay cozy. Xoxo

    4. So you’ve tried Nia!! I teach Nia (I think you know that though). My passion is in sharing Nia. It is THE most fabulous fitness and lifestyle practice I’ve found — and I’ve tried quite a few. I’m happy you tried something new and that you were challenged and that it brought up stuff. I’m forever inviting my students to step out of their comfort zone, to express themselves in new ways (Nia offers unlimited possibilities to do so) and to celebrate the wisdom of their bodies. Sounds like you had quite a delicious time!!!

    5. Niachick, I did know you teach Nia! I haven’t taken it in awhile so I was excited to do it that morning (when I misunderstood the class description). Well, it all worked out– I was challenged and it did bring up stuff, and that’s okay. Perhaps I’ll find a Nia offering nearby soon. Thanks for chiming in!

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