In Nia we use the clock a lot. We don’t actually USE the clock, but we use the idea of a clock face on the ground. When we are moving and dancing we often times refer to the hours on the face of the clock to indicate where to put our feet or move our body. I had mentioned this in my post about Katas. I find that it works well when I am learning the routines. I note the “o’clocks” on my bars. I find it works well when sharing the moves in my Nia classes. And I find that Nia students appreciate having a reference point. It REALLY helps me when there is an actually clock in the room in my line of site. I know that probably sounds silly because the reason we use a clock to assist in the dance is because it is something familiar and constant, but sometimes it just helps to be able to glance up and be able to say, “Step to one o’clock.” I use the clock a lot.
Often times our stepping isn’t exactly on an hour. Often times I feel as if it is BETWEEN the hours, say between one and two, but it is still a great reference point. As with many of our moves in Nia it could be that we are stepping on the foot we have placed at a specific hour or it could be that we are pointing or tapping on the hour. Using the hours of the clock as a reference can help prevent confusion when required to state which foot is being used. Since we are moving to music one does not always have time to state, “Cross your left foot to the right diagonal and stop.” And saying, “Left right diagonal” could be confusing, so it is nice to have a set “direction” by using the hours on a clock. So I can say, “Left at 1:00″ and that is even more clear than saying either one of the instructions previously stated. It is clear that the left foot is to cross over and land at 1:00.
Also it seems to even work better than just saying the directional left and right. If I were to say, “Put your left foot out” I have not actually indicated WHERE to put your left foot, but when I say, “Left to 9:00″ it is clear where the left foot should go when it goes “out”. Another example is a bow, it could be executed with the leg directly behind or crossed back so again the clock adds a greater level of instruction.
Of course, the participants in a dance exercise class are watching the instructor but giving them verbal instructions allows them to do it in their own body’s way instead of just trying to do it the exact way the teacher’s body is doing it. Some people might have a LARGE clock face on the ground on which they are dancing and other’s might have a smaller one. It all depends on where they leg reaches, but at least they know what direction.
In Nia there are even moves that refer to the clock. Within our 52 moves we have a “slow clock” and a “fast clock”. So as I said we use the clock or at least the idea of a clock a lot in a Nia class.