I have posted before about the 13 Principles in the Nia White Belt. The fourth principle, FreeDance, has eight stages. I am working my way backwards posting about each stage. This post is about second stage: Being Seduced by the Music – The Art of Listening. In the second stage of Nia FreeDance the exercise we perform is stillness. We keep our bodies still while we listen to the music. We allow ourselves to be seduced by the music and practice the art of listening. When listening to a song that is not familiar or doesn’t have that “get-up-and-dance” beat it is not so difficult, but when the song is one that makes every part of your body want to move, when it is familiar, or one you love it is not easy sitting still. It is not easy to sit with a tall spine that does not gyrate to the beat. But when we do practice the art of listening with only our ears we might hear sounds we had not been aware of before. While we are listening the idea is to name instruments and sounds that you hear. Sometimes you might not know what you are hearing, either you don’t know the name of the instrument or it isn’t really an instrument at all, so you can give them their own names. For instance something might sound like rushing water or trash can lids. I know a Nia teacher whose husband is in a band and she is familiar with a lot of different instruments and the sounds they make. She is very good at naming them when she hears them. Me, if you look at my bars you will see a lot of spaceships. There is a sound that I think of as a spaceship so I use that symbol to signify that sound. I HEAR a spaceship.
This stage might sound a bit like RAW, where we are Relaxed, Alert, and Waiting while we listen to the music, but it is not. Our bodies might be in the same position, of a lengthened spine and a relaxed state but in RAW we are just listening without opinion or too much thought. We have no inner dialogue so there is no naming of sounds. In RAW we are just waiting to receive. With Being Seduced by the Music we are practicing the art of listening and naming what we hear. We are engaged in the music even though we are not moving.
For me this stage of FreeDance might even produce a few pearls. It could be that I don’t know the instrument so I think of what it sounds like which allows us to move “as if we are sloshing in mud”. Or it could be that the sound just makes me think of a certain movement such as “throwing your arms in the air with a burst of sound”. While I might not be purposefully trying to think of pearls with the seduction I just let my mind flow. If there is a dialog then there is, if not, that is fine. I just let the music flow and I listen giving names to this sound and that sound.
Listening to the music without giving it dance or without it allowing to move us in dance allows us a deep relationship with it. We are not imposing our own ideals onto it as we move or we are not interpreting it, we are just letting it in. We are just listening. With that we learn about it. We hear things we might have missed while floating about the space. It is nice to be able to have that connection with the music.
Stage two of FreeDance, Being Seduced by the Music – The Art of Listening is just another toy in our toy box that Nia has given us to play with to become better teachers and better dancers.
Have you ever been sitting still listening to a song you have heard many times before and heard something you hadn’t heard before?