Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch!

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Posts Tagged ‘core moves’

Jazz Square Using The Clock

Posted by terrepruitt on October 12, 2013

I took dance lessons when I was young.  I cannot remember a time when I didn’t know the Jazz Square.  Of course there had to be a time because one is not born knowing what a Jazz Square is much less how to do one.  But I don’t remember not knowing how to do it.  So I actually must have learned it prior to my dance lessons, because I was young when I took my lessons but not THAT young.  Whatever the case . . . . unfortunately it was all too long ago for me to truly know . . . I knew what a Jazz Square was when I entered my first Nia Class and when I took the Nia White Belt Intensive.  While the Jazz Square is not included as one of Nia’s 52 Moves it is something we do a lot in our routines.  It could be considered part of the Jazz Dance that is one of the Nine Movement forms that make up Nia.  Well, not everyone has had dance lessons or knows how to do a Jazz Square.  So we can use the clock to help them.

Nia has a core set of moves called Nia’s 52 Moves.  Three of them actually have “clock” in their names.  One is Rock Around the Clock, another is Slow Clock, and another is Fast Clock.  So it makes sense that with those moves we would use a clock image to do the move and/or help explain and instruct the move.  I have posted before about how we use the clock to help direct other moves.  Well, the Jazz Square is one of them.  While it is called a square it sometimes might be more of a rectangle, but the idea is to use the four corners.

First thing to know is that the Jazz Square is just four steps.  So often I will just have my students march or step four counts.  Sometimes we will get the dance going with that and then move to the square.  Some people stay with the marching and that is fine.  Another VERY important thing to know AND DO is to weight each step.  As in, put all your weight onto each step you take.  When you are learning the jazz square this is of the utmost importance.  This will ensure that you are taking a left, right, left, right (or right, left, right, left) approach and not trying to use the same foot – as in left, left, right, left – and just getting tangled up.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia at the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Zumba, PiYo, Gentle YogaLet’s do a Jazz Square left-over-right.  So we will be starting with our left foot and having it cross over the right foot to the right side.  The left foot comes over to the right and lands on 2 o’clock, the right foot comes back to the back right corner and lands on 4 o’clock.   Then the left foot steps back to the back left corner – 8 o’clock, then the right foot steps over to the upper left corner – 10 o’clock.  That is one jazz square.  To keep going the left foot swings around the right foot to the upper right corner – 2 o’clock and you continue on.

So right-over-left is: right foot to upper left corner (10 o’clock), left foot to back left corner (8 o’clock), right foot to back right corner (4 o’clock), left foot to upper right corner (2 o’clock).  To keep going the right foot must swing around the left foot back up to the upper left corner (10 o’clock).

Sometimes when we are doing a fast jazz square my square turns into a diamond with step one being more at 1 and the corners a little askew.  But I have corners!

As with many things sometimes it is easier for a person to do it one way than the other.  So it might be easy to do left foot over right foot, but when you switch it is not as easy.  Sometimes that is when a student will march.  Or they will do the jazz square but not the hand or body movement that we pair with it.  Continuing to move is the key so whatever they do is great.  Eventually with practice, the can do it!

Perhaps this will help.

Key things to remember:

  • FOUR steps
  • Put your weight on every step
  • Step to 2, 4, 8, 10 – left, right, left, right or
  • Step to 10, 8, 4, 2 – right, left, right, left
  • Marching is an option
  • Have fun

Do you do the Jazz Square?  Does this help?  Can you do the Jazz Square and a shimmy?  Both ways?

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

More Dance Moves

Posted by terrepruitt on September 24, 2013

I have stated in previous posts that we do moves in Nia that are not exclusive to Nia.  Since Nia is three different arts; Martial Arts, Dances Arts, and Healing Arts, with three different movement forms in each art there is a large possibility that you have experienced the move before if you have participated in any of the movement forms.  The nine basic Nia movement forms are T’ai chi, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Jazz Dance, Modern Dance, Duncan Dance, Feldenkrais, the Alexander Technique, and Yoga.  Even if you have not practiced any of the movement forms you still might have found yourself doing the cha-cha, a jazz square, a side kick, or sitting cross legged.  Nia does however have moves that are a part of Nia, say the core movements.  We call them the 52 Moves of Nia or Nia’s 52 Moves.  Two of the 52 moves are crosses.  There is the Cross Front and the Cross Behind.  The action of the cross is done with the feet.

The Cross Front is where you step across your body to the other side.  Some what like taking a diagonal step forward.  To practice this you can stand in an open stance and use one leg to step in a forward and diagonal direction.  The ideal of the Cross Front is with a heel lead.  Practice is done with arms and hands swinging freely.

The Nia Technique book states that benefits from this move is the strengthen of your inner thigh muscles.

This is a great practice in stability.  Especially since often when we are doing the cross front it is combined with another move.  We do not normally cross front continually from a standing still open position.  So the cross front often takes on a personality of its own.  Knowing how to do it in it simplest form allows for the energy and playfulness that it is normally supplied while dancing to come out.  This is often a move used to play with agility because in the dance we are moving and there is a start and a stop as we cross front.

The Cross Behind, like all moves, even the one mentioned above, has its proper way to be done.  To practice the cross behind start in an open stance then step with one foot back/behind on the diagonal so the moving foot comes behind and to the side of the stationary foot.  The moving foot lands on “ball of foot“.  The end result is the ankles look like an “x” is being made.  With this further practice can be done to allow for you to sink into a lower position . . . just a little bend in the knees.  But you keep the foot that crossed behind on the ball of foot.  Further practice has you rising on BOTH feet onto the ball of your foot. This move helps with mobility and stability in the legs.

Again, that is the way to do it in practice.  While moving, practicing, and playing with all the moves.  There are routines that call for the movement to be done exactly like stated.  We have our ankles crossed in the X and we are on ball of foot.  That is a true cross behind.  But in dancing it is often adjusted into looking a little different.

It could be that the ankles do not land that close together as we start to sense the music and dance it in our own bodies way.  Could be we land on whole foot.  There are many ways to dance and find this move adjusted.  But as with many things, it is important to learn the base, the correct way to do it and then play from there.

So as you can tell we do a lot of moves in Nia that are familiar.  I would not be surprised at all if you have done these on the dance floor at a club or a wedding reception.  Maybe not exactly as we do in Nia when executing them with precision to allow us the flexibility, agility, mobility, strength, and stability available, but in a way that would make doing it in a Nia class familiar.

So where have you done the Cross Front?  And the Cross Behind?  Are you a grocery store dancer?

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »