Terre Pruitt's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘dance awareness’

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.

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