Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch!

    Nia: Thurs at 9 am

    Yin Yoga: Mons at 11:30 am

    Gentle Yoga: Tues at 10:30 am and Thurs at 6:00 pm

    Stretch: Thurs at 10:30 am

    Please see my website for details! I sub for the City of San Jose and the YMCA so check my website for dates and times!

    I am also available for private Nia / yoga / Personal Training!

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Posts Tagged ‘Authentic Movement’

Dancing Free

Posted by terrepruitt on February 19, 2015

Do you ever just dance?  You might be one to turn on the music and start dancing.  Perhaps you have a favorite song you like to dance to?  Or you might be one who breaks into dance spontaneously.  You could be in the house and a song comes on and you don’t even really think about it, next think you know you are moving to the music.  Perhaps you are one that is so gusty or you just don’t care so you dance in the aisle at the grocery store.  Music moves us.  It is easy to dance to a song we like.  Sometimes we “can’t help it”.  We just burst into a dance.  But dancing without choreography in a dance exercise class?  No one telling you exactly how to move?  Just move to the music?  Without having consumed any alcohol?  It is a concept not easily grasped by many.  It is a concept that we practice often in a Nia class.  We call it Nia FreeDance.

As I mentioned dancing without choreography in an exercise class is a new concept to many.  Moving without having a structured plan doesn’t sound like exercise to many people.  Some people are very resistant to Nia FreeDance because of this reason.  Some people cannot understand how you can “get a good workout” without having a structured plan, without moving the same way over and over again.  The way we have been programmed to exercise includes repetition and structure.  It includes traveling in a straight line from point a to point b, it includes being told how to move.  So just moving without any idea of what comes after the present movement is vastly alien to some.

Yet, I have people who actually let go and try it.  Those who push beyond their own skepticism and doubt come up to me and say, “Wow!  I am sweating.”  Those who let the music move their bodies without thinking about it have said, “Who would have thought that I would have gotten such a great workout?”  Some realize, “I might be sore tomorrow.”  They MIGHT be sore the next day because they moved their bodies in ways that their bodies are not accustom to moving.

Nia FreeDance is there to help stimulate movement creativity.  So if you do it with full abandon you might end up with muscles that talk to you the next day.  Your body will have moved in new and different ways.  So Nia FreeDance is not the dancing you would do at a club or a dance lesson.  It is just free movement.  Yes, some of those cool club moves or patterns you learned in dance class sneak in because we dance what we know.  We think about it and move in that way.  But there really is more to FreeDancing.  It might have a pattern for a moment, it might have structure for a moment, but it moves away and comes back.  It is free.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose,  Nia at the San Jose Community Centers, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex City of San Jose, San Jose Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYoTo assist with FreeDance and to deepen the practice there are eight stages that can be a guide, because as I said, it is not necessarily an easy thing to do.

Stage 1: FreeDance
Catch Phrase: Anything Goes, Movement-Wise

Stage 2: Being Seduced by the Music
Catch Phrase: Art of Listening

Stage 3: Feelings and Emotions
Catch Phrase: Pretend, Fake It, Act As If

Stage 4: The Creative Source
Catch Phrase: The Real You

Stage 5: Authentic Movement
Catch Phrase: Change!!

Stage 6: Witness
Catch Phrase: Interfere…Judge…Not! Observe

Stage 7: Choreography
Catch Phrase: The Accidental Click

Stage 8: Nia Class
Catch Phrase: Levels 1, 2, 3

The catch phrases have changed slightly since I participated in the Nia White Belt Intensive in 2008, but it is all basically the same.  The catch phrases give you a clue as to what the stage is for.  All the stages help you to FreeDance.  You can dance each stage separately or combine them in any fashion. Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose,  Nia at the San Jose Community Centers, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex City of San Jose, San Jose Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo The idea is just to give you something to help get you moving and then give you something to keep you moving.  Moving in new and different ways.  The new and different active body, mind, emotions, and spirit.  FreeDance is one of the key things that makes Nia unique.  If you click on the stages above you will go to the post that I have posted for each stage.

I am very excited about the Special Nia Class and Nia Free Dance Playshop that I am producing next month.  So I have been thinking a lot about FreeDance and how great it is.  This post is a result of my excitement and my attempt at getting people excited and curious about FreeDance.  Reading about it is one thing, but getting up and actually DOING it is another.  These are the stages used to deepen your practice, but they are not what we will be covering in the Playshop.  As the flyer states, we will be learning Jason’s tools for FreeDance!  I hope you will join us!

Are you a dancer?  Do you break into dance?  What is the current hit that you can’t help but dance to?

Posted in FreeDance, Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Anything Goes Is The Tagline For The First Stage Of FreeDance

Posted by terrepruitt on July 5, 2012

Nia is both a dance exercise and a life practice.  Kind of like yoga.  You can go to a class and get the exercise you want and have it end there or you can learn about its principles and take them into your life.  There are levels of the practice.  Nia has chosen to use a “belt” system as their levels.  Instead of just having numbers or names, they have assigned belt colors to the levels.  There are five levels; White Belt, Green Belt, Blue Belt, Brown Belt, and Black Belt.  The intensives to gain the belts can be taken and enjoyed by people who aren’t teaching. Each belt has 13 principles, except Green. Green does not have its own set of principles because green is the belt level that is actually designed specifically for teachers and helps them hone their teaching skills.  It delves into the 13 principles of the White Belt.  The White Belt’s principle #4 is FreeDance.  FreeDance as a practice has eight stages.  I have posted about eight through two.  This post is about stage one.  Stage #1 of Nia’s 4th White Belt Principle is Freedance – Anything Goes (movement wise).

While you are dancing any movement is great if it is authentic movement.  With Nia there is choreographed moves, but within the patterns of movement there is the ability to freedance.  Also with many routines there is sometimes just freedance where we are allowed to dance free to the music without any choreography.  Stage one:  Freedance, anything goes, allows us the greatest of freedoms.  You can dance using the wall, the mirror, a chair, the floor, or a ballet barre that might be in the room.  You can dance fast, slow, high, low, or in the middle.  Anything that you sense your body wants to do to the music.  It is up to you.

The idea with freedance is to just let the body go.  Don’t think about it.  When you think about it often comes the judgment.  Sometimes the judgment can interfere with movement, especially if it is judgment along the lines of, “Oh I must look silly doing this.”  “Oh that probably isn’t pretty.”  “Oh, I am not graceful enough to spin.”  “Oh, I need to do this or that.”  This is all inner dialog that clogs up the muscles and their movements.

Freedance also, as I believe I’ve mentioned before, in not club dancing.  We are NOT just bouncing or undulating to the beat, we are moving to the music.  We are moving our bodies towards as pleasurable sensation of health and well being.

Freedance is also not patterned dancing, we save the patterns for our choreographed movements.  Freedance is just free.  It is spinning twirling, diving and whirling.  It could be hopping or dropping.  It really is whatever your body does.

Freedance is not easy.  It takes practice.  It is not easy to just be on the floor and not think about how you are going to move and just let your body go.  It is a challenge.  But once you can stop thinking and talking in your head you will find yourself moving to the music.  Sometimes you might even notice that you are moving in a way that you didn’t think about and it is really amazing to have that sensation.  But don’t think too much, just keep moving.

I would like to invite and encourage you to make some space in your home or if you are so inclined find a space to dance outside . . . find a space turn on some music and just dance.  Let yourself go.  Let yourself be free.  Allow the time, space, frame of mind and spirit to freedance.  Remember, anything goes!

Wahoo!  I have to add that in the middle of typing this up I secured another class to sub for the City of San Jose.  So exciting to be able to share Nia through the city!  Yay!

Posted in FreeDance, Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Authentic Movement – Change – FreeDance Stage 5

Posted by terrepruitt on January 14, 2012

Nia, the dance exercise that I teach, is a great cardio workout.  Classes are fun and full of energy.  To become a Nia teacher one must take the White Belt Intensive.  It is 40+ hours of intense learning, discovery, play, dance, reading, listening, moving, sitting, and so much more.  A person that is just interesting in learning more about Nia as a practice may also take the intensive.  One does not have to have the intention of teaching to participate in an intensive.  In the Nia White Belt there are 13 Principles.  These principles are what teachers and practitioner use to expand their Nia practice.  Working and playing with the principles actually help bodies to move “better”.  Nia is a body centered exercise so these principles actually help us move our bodies.   The fourth Nia White Belt principle is FreeDance, this principle has eight stages.  The list of the eight stages is in my post Nia Class – Levels 1, 2, 3 – FreeDance Stage 8.  The fifth stage is Authentic Movement – Change.

Nia is “about” many things.  One thing Nia is about is Authentic movement.  Our dance is not a performance.  It is not meant to be pretty.  It is meant to allow us to move in our own body’s way.  The idea is that we will move in our own body’s’ way and we will move as we need to move.  With freedom and authenticity we will be working our bodies as they each individually need to be worked.  Yes, we do have specific steps in a kata or song.  But everyone’s body does the steps maybe a little differently — to their own body’s ability.  With practice the body will be able to do the steps and the moves in the Body’s Way, moving the way the body was actually designed to move.

With authentic movement we are letting the body move to the music in its own way.  We don’t think of how to move it, we just let it sense the music and it moves.  If one is practicing the Nia 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 songs the body will have gone through all of its “normal” movements.  You will have danced out all of your movement tendencies.  You will have danced all of your bodies patterns and your body will seek new moves.  Your body will do things it does not usually do.  You might be one that often moves your hips a lot, but after a few songs and continually changing the way you move your hips you might realize that you are out of hip moves, so your body plants your feet and you end up kicking up one leg at a time.  Maybe kicking is not part of your typical dance move repertoire.  Maybe once your legs start kicking your arms start punching.  And this was not thought out or planned it just seemed natural.  Leg kick, arm punch.

So the idea is to exhaust the normal and journey into new territory.  If you have never done anything like this I want to warn you, you might be a little sore the next day.  If you are a booty shaker and you change to a “how-low-can-you-go-er” you will feel it the next morning.  If you always keep both feet on the ground and you start kicking or even just doing knee lifts to be different, your body will remind you the next day that you did something different.

If you let your body just dance to the music and switch it up, your body will give you great feed back on how you have never moved your foot/arm/head/butt/ankle/knee/whatever-you-moved-that-was-new the next day.  You will go to move foot/arm/head/butt/ankle/knee/whatever-you-moved-that-was-new and probably sense it.  This information will help you learn your movement tendencies and you can learn what new moves might help you improve your body’s movements.

Try it!  Put on some music and dance with Authentic Movement, then change.  Keep doing this through at least five songs and see where you end up.  See what new moves your body comes up with.  Ready?  Go!

Posted in FreeDance, Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Witness – Do Not Interfere or Judge. Observe. — Nia FreeDance Stage 6

Posted by terrepruitt on January 10, 2012

I think this is one of the most difficult stages of Nia FreeDance.  And there is a reason they are numbered one through eight, and I don’t know why I started my postings about them backwards, but when I’m done they will still be here and they will tie together. On its own Stage 6 is a powerful tool, but it can also be applied when dancing Nia FreeDance stage one (FreeDance) and five (Authentic Movement).  Stage 6 of Nia FreeDance is witness.  We witness our movements.  While we are dancing we acknowledge how we are moving.  We observe our tendencies.  We observe our structure.  We are witness to all that our body can and can’t do, yet we do not interfere.  We just let go and move.  For many Nia FreeDance is a challenge because we are set free to dance without structure, we are set free to move as we sense the music.  In stage 6 we do so — move without structure and as our own body senses the music — without interfering or judging.  We are to just observe.

While you are dancing and witnessing, interfering would mean to change what you are doing maybe because you judged it to be a certain way.  As an example, say you heard a specific stand-out beat in the music and your body sensed it as little hops so you started hopping.  As you are hopping you start thinking and judging, you think, “Why am I hopping?  I must look silly.  No one else is hopping.  I should stop.”  While there was witnessing (YAY!), there was judging (not yay.) and then as a result interfering (not yay.).  Movement was changed because of a judgement.  Movement was changed not because your body sensed something maybe a new move from the music it was changed because you judged.  This is what Nia FreeDance Stage 6 is about witnessing but NOT interfering or judging.

Even if we observe our tendency to do the same type of move over and over.  This witness does not have an opinion, it just observes.  If you are dancing just stage 6 of FreeDance then you just keep going.  Observe, don’t judge or interfere.  Now is not the time to change.  Just dance.

This is not an easy stage.  It is not easy to witness, just observing and not judge or interfere, but this stage is a huge eye-opener.  This stage can tell us many things about our dance and our bodies.  We can see our tendencies and our comfort zones.  We can learn our strengths and weaknesses.  We can embrace the sense of self.  This stage is not easy, but it is powerful.  It is a great tool in the Nia tool box for both a Nia Practitioner and a Nia Teacher.

So while you are dancing in the shower, in the kitchen, in the living room — wherever it is you get to truly dance — try stage 6 of Nia FreeDance; Witness – Do Not Interfere of Judge.  Observe.  And see where this takes you.  See what you learn.  You could learn things like, you don’t allow your neck free movement,  your hips don’t get to dance, you are always bent at the knee, you can do a great shimmy, your hands are like graceful birds . . . . so many things.  What have you witness in your FreeDance?

Posted in FreeDance, Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Nia Class – Levels 1, 2, 3 – FreeDance Stage 8

Posted by terrepruitt on December 27, 2011

In Nia there are 13 White Belt Principles.  The principles provide a foundation, something we can learn, practice, explore, and build on.  One Nia White Belt Principle, Principle number 7 has two parts.  The second part of the principle is levels of teaching.  I wrote about this when I was sharing about each Nia White Belt Principle.  The three levels of teaching come up again as the eighth stage in Nia FreeDance.  The eighth stage is Nia Class – Levels 1, 2, 3.

The eight stages of FreeDance are:

1-FreeDance
2-Being Seduced by the Music
3-Feelings and Emotions
4-The Creative Source
5-Authentic Movement
6-Witness
7-Choreography
8-Nia Class – Levels 1, 2, 3

In addition to learning, practicing, exploring and building on the 13 White Belt Principles, Nia teachers are taught to use the eight stages of FreeDance to learn our routines and also to expand our Nia Practice and to have fun with Nia.  FreeDancing to the music is often a step I skip.  So is might go without saying that dancing the first six stages of FreeDance is something I often don’t do when I learn a routine.  I am going to work on using this tool, FreeDance and its stages, to learn my routines going forward.  I am also going to use this tool when I go back and practice and delve deeper into the routines I already teach.

In regards to Stage 8 – Nia Class – Levels 1, 2, 3, this is something that Nia teachers need to be able to share in a class.  As I stated in my post about the second half of the 7th Nia White Belt Principle, everyone’s levels might be different, but the point is that I need to be able to show you different levels.  The move itself does not change, it just might be done bigger or covering more floor.  If the move is a cha-cha step, then my level 1 is a cha-cha, as well as my level 2, to make it more challenging in level 3 I don’t change it to a jazz square, I just make it bigger.  Or I might even show the example of it being more bouncy.  There are different ways to change the level and we all have different levels so we have different needs when it comes to changing the level.

Level 1, 2, and 3 does not necessarily mean “planes” as in low, middle, high, it means level of intensity.  Now how “intensity” is interpreted DOES depend on the move.  As I just mentioned it could mean bigger or more bouncy.  It all depends on the move itself, but either way the spirit and the energy remains the same.

I do find that sometimes I don’t have enough time to show all three levels for all of the moves.  Sometimes I just stick to level one if it appears that the move is challenging to most students.  Then I might briefly demonstrate level two, but go quickly back to level one because I can sense I am going to be leaving most of the class behind.  In that case, what happens is if there is a student that is ready for level three they get their on their own.  It is fabulous.

I do think that it is really good for me to continue to remind my students that EVERYBODY has a different level 1, which automatically means that their level 2 is different, which dominoes into the level 3 being different.  When playing with dancing freely to music it is fun as a student and a dancer to experiment with different levels of intensity of a move.  Sometimes the music dictates the intensity as the music itself might change intensity.  Sometimes it is just amusing to change it up to challenge the body, brain, and spirit.  So, even as a student of Nia or dancer that dances because you love to move you too can also experience different levels of dancing free.  This is a brief look into Nia’s FreeDance and Stage 8 Nia Class – Levels 1, 2, 3.

Ready to turn on some music and dance?

Posted in FreeDance, Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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