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Nia and Duncan Dance

Posted by terrepruitt on January 23, 2010

As you might now be aware Nia includes elements from three disciplines from three different arts. From the dance arts, we borrow from Duncan Dance. Duncan Dance was brought to us by Isadora Duncan.  Isadora believed in the freedom movement.  She did not care for the stucture of ballet opting for movement of a more natural flowing nature. 

Duncan Dance, like Modern Dance, helps bring freedom to Nia.  For me I think of “child-like” when I think of Duncan Dance in Nia.  It encourages us to skip, run, do somersaults, jump, hop, giggle, growl, laugh out loud, kick balls, jump rope, catch a balloon, and just release our adult contraints and enjoy movement for the sheer joy of moving.  We are not moving to get to one place or the other.  We are not moving to build a muscle or burn calories, in this modality we are moving because it is fun.  Because, like a child we have so much engergy inside we need to skip-run-jump-hop-hop-hop across the floor.  Then, while we are having so much fun we will be moving our muscles and burning calories, but we don’t THINK about that.  We imagine we are chasing a balloon and trying to catch it.  We imagine that we are playing kick ball or blowing bubbles and chasing them, we imagine we are having fun and we end up having fun.  We let out our inner child that gets tucked away during our normal busy day.

While infusing our workout with this energy one might notice their ankles joints and spine opening and moving more freely.  With the “child mind” one might tend towards being more “open”; standing tall, reaching up, reaching out, and standing on tippy toes.  With these movements come exercises in balance, while standing on tippy toes reaching for your red balloon you are not even going to notice that you are having to balance.  With being more “open” physically it sometimes helps with being more open mentally, this can assist with releasing the stress and tension of the our adult lives. 

The form also encourages spontaneity, like that of a child.  With less stress and tension you might find yourself giving in to your inner child and you might find yourself racing across the floor.  Nia encourages it!

I think with all of the different ideas, concepts, movements, and energies that are woven together to form Nia, there is something for everyBODY.

Please note:  The photo is a portion of the “Nia Energy Type Questionnaire” in The Nia Technique, by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.

2 Responses to “Nia and Duncan Dance”

  1. niachick said

    Duncan Dance is probably my favorite of the dance arts. No, maybe it’s Modern Dance…then again there’s Jazz. Okay, okay, I like them all…but Duncan Dance does have a special place in my heart. I’ve adored Isadora Duncan’s influence on dance for years. I have several books about her life and the movie starring Vanessa Redgrave was just awesome.

    I have to slyly grin whenever I think about the oh-so-austere audience that must’ve peed (or worse) in their pants when she came out to do her ballet performance naked as a jaybird (never quite understood that term, since jaybirds really aren’t naked). Can you imagine? I don’t know whether I’d have the guts to do something like that, although these days it wouldn’t receive quite the jolting effect as it did in Isadora’s day.

    The reference to “child-like” is so right on. Duncan Dance is elegantly playful, and playfully elegant. I love to take the essence of Duncan Dance in my classes and open my arms to the heavens (arms open wide to the sky), to the community (arms open wide and running as if ready to greet someone and give them a big bear hug), arms open to the earth, then twirling about the room.

    The element of “FreeDance” in Nia is taken from the essence of Duncan Dance…which must be why I love FreeDance so much! I did a whole class with the focus on FreeDance and my students were totally gleeful and exhausted by the end of the hour…it’s a great workout.

    Thanks again for your delightful posts about the elements of Nia!




    • Well, some of the information I read said that a lot of people consider Isadora Duncan the “mother of Modern Dance”, so sometimes the two seem so much the same to me.

      I was not aware of her “naked dancing” so thank you for sharing that story. What a woman she HAD to have been to be able to do that. How awesome!

      Ooooo, I love that: “Duncan Dance is elegantly playful, and playfully elegant” Gonna use that in class!

      My students are not yet at the point of being gleeful at Free Dance. But I hope that one day they will get there. When I was holding Free Dance sessions the people that did attend were always amazed at what a great work out it is. So fun.

      Thank you for stopping by with your great comments.


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