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Nia and the 8BC System

Posted by terrepruitt on January 5, 2010

Music and the 8BC System is Nia White Belt Principle #3. This is part 2 of the principle, a brief bit about the 8BC System.

To learn our music, us Nia teachers, literally map out our music. We measure our music using a system of notations called bars.  This is our map. We count out our music 1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and-5-and-6-and-7-and-8-and.  Each bar has 16 counts. We count out the song noting the bars on a page. Then we go through and “dress” the bars adding marks to the page making notes of the sounds we hear.  We use the noted sounds as cues for the choreography in a routine. No matter if the movements are matching the music or going opposite to it, the instruments and sounds are our cues.

By mapping our music, (“barring” our music) we get to know our music really well.  Knowing our music really well allows us to easily play with the choreography, while at the same time, sticking to the basics of it.  We can also take the music that we have learned while learning a routine and add different choreography to it.

Also practicing this barring system ensures that we can take any music and dance the Nia choreography to it.  We just match the Nia music up with music that has the same count and we can pretty much just “plug” in the Nia choreography.

All of this allows us to have fun while exercising and doing our Nia routines/Nia workouts.

I have taken to the practice of mapping out my music and then scanning it so that I will have a completely mapped out song so when I am ready to add different choreography to it, I can just print my music map and put in the movement portion on my barred music.

Mapping the music allows for so much creativity.  Instead of just dancing to the beat you can dance to one instrument, you can allow your body to “BE” the cymbal or the flute, or you can shimmy to the melody, or sway to the harmony.  It is fun to play with the music.  And you can do whatever you want and lead your class through it all because you have a map!

Since music is such a big part of Nia, I am sure that I will visit this topic often.  I might even come back to the Nia White Belt Principle #3.

7 Responses to “Nia and the 8BC System”

  1. Melisa said

    That’s really cool! I had no idea Nia had its own system of notation. The language teache rin me loves it!


    • Thanks, Melisa.

      It is really cool. And I can see how the language teacher in you loves it because music is like a language and we document it—and in our own way . . . .no two teachers bars would look exactly the same. The number of bars should look the same, but the notations, the dressings, would be different.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting!


  2. OMG!!!! I love this Terre. I’m printing it off…my bars do not look like this!!!! You’re an inspiration!!!




    • I am so glad you love it.

      So that is just the dressed Culture bars, but NO choreography. I add that AFTER I scan, then I scan it again. I want to have an electronic record just in case.

      I am still learning the process of barring. As you can probably see, I don’t have the “other”, “vocal”, “chorus”, “instrumental”. I don’t often match up to HQ’s printout when I do that part. I am still working on getting that right. I am also working on “loose”. Ya know, tight but loose, as you know it goes for more than just teaching . . . . I feel I need to loosen up a bit on my barring because it takes me forever. I want the sound noted EXACTLY when I hear it, it has to go in the right square, on the left if it is a number and on the right if it is an “and”. When it would work just as well to just put it on the correct bar. But I keep thinking that I am going to use these notes forever and I as I get more routines under my belt I might not visit one for a long time. So I want my notes/bars very detailed so when I look at them later it will be easier for me to pick it up!

      But Nia is a practice and I love that. I can keep doing and learning and learning and doing. Ahhhhh. Yay! And I have such great people to learn from. You are such a joy and a great teacher. Thank you!!!!


  3. […] a new Nia routine.  After getting coffee this morning I sat down to listen to the music and bar it.  I had done some work on some of the songs already, so I was continuing.  I had opened up a […]


  4. […] Another step is to listen to the music all the time.  Listen and allow it to seep into the body. Then we are encouraged to FreeDance to the music. We are instructed to dance six of the eight stages. Keep in mind this can be over the course of days or weeks, whatever it takes. Then they advise us to just WATCH the DVD without working out to it. The last step in Stage 1 is to do the bars. […]


  5. […] White Belt Principle #4, stage 5, then the authentic movement is done for two bars, two measures of how we count our music.  After two bars change the movement.  Do this for each song.  The idea is that after a few […]


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