Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

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Posts Tagged ‘dance routine’

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.

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

Choreography – The Accidental “Click” – FreeDance Stage 7

Posted by terrepruitt on January 5, 2012

The principles of the different belts in Nia provide a foundation for our Nia practice.  There are 13 Principles in the Nia White Belt.  The fourth principle is FreeDance, this principle has eight stages.  Eight things you can focus on that can become a part of FreeDance.  When I attended my Nia White Belt Intensive we danced through these stages when we danced FreeDance.  Dancing through the stages is something that can be done for fun.  It doesn’t have to be because you do Nia.  It can help you express yourself by turning on some music and applying the stages to the music.  Dancing through the stages is also used as a technique for Nia teachers to become better aquainted with the Nia music.  It is a tool that can help in learning a Nia routine.  The seventh stage of FreeDance is Choreography, the tagline is:  The Accidental “Click”.

I mentioned in my post about the eighth stage of FreeDance, Nia Class – Levels 1, 2, 3, that I often skip over dancing the first six stages of FreeDance when learning a Nia routine.  Part of the reason is because I actually forgot about it being a step.  I don’t skip them entirely, I do FreeDance about four of the stages to the music, but I don’t do all of them.  I do believe that doing all six can be a great tool, so as I mentioned, I am working on implementing this action back into my “learning of a Nia routine”.  Today in fact I started employing it with a the next routine I am learning.

Stage 7 of FreeDance, Choreography – The Accidental “Click”, is something that probably happens to all dancers and group fitness teachers alike.  It kind of seems to happen in more than just dance actually, but with dancers the “click” is to the music.  Often with the eight stages of FreeDance you are using more than one stage at a time.  With experiencing the accidental click there is going to be stage two going on.  There is going to be a lot of listening.  The listening is to ALL of the music; the silences, the beat, the tempo, the instruments, the words the vibrations–all of it.  With Nia we are taught to dance to all music, not just the kind that we turn on and can’t help but move too.  We are taught to move to music we might not actually like.  Many people are the type that when you turn music on something on their body starts moving.  A foot might start moving, a head might bob, fingers might tap, this happens often.  There seems to be some songs that EVERYBODY moves to, they just can’t help it.  But then there is music that often clears the dance floor.  The “everybody move to” music is easy to dance to.  But the floor clearing kind sometimes can be difficult to dance to.  In Nia we are taught to dance to it all.  We are taught to listen to it all.

I will be the first to admit that sometimes there are songs I don’t like in a Nia routine.  Sometimes there is just one noise that is to incessant or a beat that feels off, whatever the reason, I don’t like it all.  Sometimes I like the music but not the moves.   Sometimes I just can’t get the choreography and the music to mesh—in my head or in my body, whatever it just doesn’t work.  So I keep doing that kata until it “clicks”.  Eventually it will because Debbie Rosas Stewart and Carlos AyaRosas are great at creating routines, but sometimes it takes me a bit.  The “click” is what state seven is about.

Stage seven is connecting to the sensation of your body.  I think that often times I “don’t like it” (it being either the music or the move or whatever it is that is hanging me up) is all in my head.  So if and when I stop thinking and get into the sensation of the body, I will find that the moves DO go with the music, I was just thinking they didn’t.  Amazing how the thinking gets in the way of moving so often.

Here you have it the seventh stage of Nia FreeDance.  Yes, I am posting about them backwards, from 8 to 1.  It just happened that way.  The days I went to type up a post my eyes fell on “Nia Class – Leve 1, 2, 3 for inspiration.  So now I am going through the stages backwards.  I bet even if you aren’t trying to learn a dance routine you can think of or recognize things in your life that click.  Could be you are trying to remember a way to do something and you do it over and over and keep referring back to the instructions then one day “click”.  In Nia it’s Choreography where we eventually find The Accidental “Click”, but in life it could be with anything.  “Clicks” happen all the time.  Even if you aren’t learning a dance routine, you’re familiar with that click, right?

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

Best Intentions Derailed

Posted by terrepruitt on July 19, 2011

Wow.  I was practicing a new-to-me Nia routine this morning.  I had taught it Monday but to me there is always room for improvement.  I can always know my music more intimately.  I can always cue better.  I can always do a move differently.  That is the thing about Nia.  There is always so many ways to do the move.  I find that it is best to keep it simple when first introducing a new routine.  It is best to just do the basics and let the class get it down a bit before showing them any alternatives.  The Nia students that get the basics down quickly can easily pick up on alternative ways to do the move themselves.  Because they are already at the point of expanding.  But I try to remember to keep it simple so I like to practice and learn it better.  It is not always easy when the music just “makes” you move.  It is easy to get carried away in the music and just start dancing.  That is what Nia allows you to do, stick to the routine or dance your own dance.  Well, this morning I kind of had a “routine”.  Well, at least I had a plan.  Ok, maybe more accurately I had a list.  But sometimes even though you start out doing the first thing on the list and even the second thing, you get off the path.

It doesn’t even have to be a big thing that gets you off track.  It doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  Sometimes it could be a little thing or a good thing that derails you.  But either way, you are off track.  You find yourself at 11:00 pm with nothing to post about.  I thought I had all afternoon to think of something, research it if necessary, write it up, then post, but I got off track.

THEN . . . I typed up this entire post.  I was just about to add a link and save it and the laptop I was working on shut down.  And I was writing in Notepad because I don’t like writing in the little box that WordPress gives me nor do I like the “full page version”.  I write in Notepad, the laptop doesn’t have MS Word so it doesn’t automatically save. So this is my SECOND attempt at this post.  And I am sorry to say, but the first one was much better.  I had deposited all my thoughts onto the screen so I forgot them.

I am that way.  I write something down so I don’t have to remember it and believe me, I don’t.  I type up a thought, an idea, a post, I don’t remember it.  It as if putting it in type takes it out of my head and leaves a blank spot.  Which I guess can lead me right back to my post.  I had a blank spot for it.

I even found myself click on “random articles” on Wiki.  I figured I was safe clicking on “random” on wiki it is not like video roulette where I don’t know what I’ll get.  I got a few about people I had never heard of.  One person had been in “Charles in Charge” so I have been signing that for an hour.  But another was about “Feather Bowling”.  Made me laugh.  Apparently:

Feather Bowling is a game played with wooden balls shaped like wheels of cheese. The balls are rolled down a dirt or synthetic alley towards a feather sticking out of the dirt at the other end. The object of the game is to get the ball as close to the feather as possible.

The only place to play the game in the United States is the Cadieux Cafe in Detroit, Michigan.

Who knew?  Well now we do.  And some of us might even have the theme song from Charles in Charge in our head.  Either way, I posted and I shared and that is where I am right now.  How about you?  Signing?  Dancing?  Writing down thoughts and forgetting them?  Feather bowling?  Staying on track?  Talk to me . . . .

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

Nia and Modern Dance

Posted by terrepruitt on December 1, 2009

As you might now be aware Nia includes elements from three different movement forms from three different arts. One of the arts is the dance arts and one movement form is Modern Dance.  With Modern Dance concepts added to Nia it allows us to play with balance, play with shapes, and play with space.  We can form any shape we want.  We can use arms and legs, fingers and toes, torso and head to make the shapes we envision.  We can allow gravity to pull us to the ground, or gravity to pull us heavenward.  With all that Modern Dance inspires us to do we can gain strength and flexibility.  Agility plays a part also as we shift our weight and change our speed.

Jazz Dance allows us to play and be showmen, and Duncan Dance allows us to play and use our imagination, and Modern Dance allows us to play and in addition really use our bodies.  Muscles get a great workout as we expand and contract, shifting our weight, and making shapes.  An invitation to experiment with all planes, directions, and levels only helps to confirm that our muscles will be used as we dance and play.  Bringing Modern Dance into your workout can also be an exercise in timing and speed.  Modern Dance can be the encouragement to make different combinations.  For example, walk across the floor, walk high, walk low, walk fast, walk slow, stumble and recover.

This movement form is a great way to explore the floor, you could fall gently to the earth, then rise up slowly, fall gently and spring up.  Again, multiple combinations can be a result of letting Modern Dance into the workout.  This form also suggest moving one body part and allowing others to follow, so maybe as you are on the ground your hand rises into the air and your body follows and your hand takes you around the space you are in.

Modern Dance really allows for freedom in Nia.  It gives you permission to mix things up and make the steps of a routine your own.  It is another form that gives us permission to play and make the workout fun.

The Nia Technique Book and The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual have additional information regarding the movement forms that were blended to create Nia. The books are by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.

Posted in Movement Forms of Nia, Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »