Terre Pruitt's Blog

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Perfect In Our Imperfection

Posted by terrepruitt on February 2, 2012

In a post in which I spoke about learning a Nia Routine I said we need to know it perfectly.  I would like to explain.  First of all I have written before about how when I am learning a Nia routine there comes a point where I just can’t learn any more by myself and I have to take it to class.  Always fascinates me how I can spend weeks working on learning it then in one hour in class I learn more than all the time I had spent on it previously.  Dance exercise is like that.  Teaching something is always different learning, it is a different level.  Anyway I had recently said we have to know a routine perfect and what I mean by that is the better we know the music and the choreography, the closer to perfect we can get it, the better.  I can do a routine without flaw in my living room then when faced with trucks driving by, kids screaming at the school,  people laughing in the lobby I can get distracted.  If I don’t know my music perfectly, if I don’t know the choreography perfectly then I will obviously mess up.  But when I know it “perfectly” then I can not do it right, but still dance and lead the routine fine.   I can mess up without saying, “Oops!”   If I know where I am and what is coming I can keep going.  Maybe I missed my cue to change movement, but when I know the music I can decide if I just want to stay with the move we are on or go to the next one.  If I decide to go, do I want to cut the amount of times short because I was late or do the correct amount because it too fits perfectly with the music?  When I KNOW it perfectly, I am free to play and really let the dance of Nia show.  I can be perfect in my imperfection.

I might not teach the routine exactly as it is taught on the DVD, but I know what I am doing different and I know where I am going with the music.  We teach tight, but loose.  I know the moves, I execute them correctly, I do the choreography exactly as the DVD — when I can :-), but, when I mess up I am loose enough to keep going.  I am loose enough to see my students enjoying one particular combination of steps, so I can elect to stay and let them enjoy their movements.  I know my routine tight enough that when my earring falls off and I get a bit distracted, I can keep going AND expertly step over and around it as it lays on the dance floor.  I am loose enough to be able to change the choreography by having to HOP over the fallen jewelry instead of exectuing the normal step.  I am loose enough to have fun but tight enough that even when I mess up, I might be the only one that knows.  It could be that there are students in class who know the routine well enough that they recognize I am not doing the choreographed move, but they can keep following and dancing because I am tight enough to be able to lead and dance in the now.

Because Nia is about dancing in the moment and having fun we are allowed a lot of freedom.  I say this often because Nia allows for people to move in their own body’s way and that is an important part of Nia.  But I also like to remind people that Nia IS choreographed.  The moves fit the music well and there are proper and safe ways to do them.  I like to express the fact that Nia is not just a room full of bodies flaling about.  We are all encouraged to be perfect in our imperfection.  Our bodies might not move exaclty as they are designed, but we can move with awareness.  We can move with purpose.  That is how I teach.  I like it best when I know the routine so well that I can play and be perfect in my imperfection.

6 Responses to “Perfect In Our Imperfection”

  1. I’ve learned a lot about my body and dance these last two weeks by taking a Zumba class with a friend. I’m not talented in picking up steps right away, but I do get them. I am in love with dance.


  2. Michele said

    I like this. Keep on moving my friend, you are an awesome teacher by example!!


  3. niachick said

    Oh man, you have me smiling and laughing and dancing!!! I’m sitting here reading this blog post saying, Yes! Yes!! Yes!!! All of the things you mention are so right on — even the losing and stepping over the earrings part. I have done that so many times!!! One time I had on a bangle bracelet but it was really loose and I did an outward block with alot of energy and it went flying across the room, thankfully not hitting anyone in the face, head or any other part of their bodies!! What a hoot. I started laughing but went right on dancing!

    I love being “tight but loose” with a routine. When I’m learning it, I’m pretty darned loose and after a couple of times teaching it in class it become a little tighter each time. I’m always so delighted when I actually get to the point of hitting all the cues, etc. But in all truthfulness, I’m more of a loose kind of girl — with my routines I mean!!

    Thanks for this post. Still smiling!!!



    • Ha. This was the first time I had an earring fall out of my ear! Once I caught a bracelet and broke it. I’ve taken earrings out that turned out not to work with the particular routine I was doing. I am happy your bracelet didn’t hit anyone!

      I too am delighted when I hit all the cues, but what cracks me up is one day I can do it pretty near perfect then the next day it is like I have never done it before. What is up with that? Cracks me up!

      I like the ability to be tight and the option to be loose. I love that I get to decide.

      Yay! It is an EXTRA GREAT day when I make you smile!


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