The No-Show Class

In Duncan, jazz, katas, music, Nia, Nia Class, teaching, Uncategorized on July 20, 2011 at 5:06 am

There are times in the Nia teacher’s early career (the first 5 years – like any new business) where she is faced with the empty class. The prep work is taken care of: the routine is learned and solid (usually!), the advertising has been thorough – posters, cards, Facebook and Twitter announcements, word of mouth, begging friends – and the free classes have been offered weeks before hand. Basically, all the grunt work has been accomplished with flying colours and a fantastic smile! But for whatever reason, the Universe, one’s subconscious, The Powers That Be… seem to conspire against the new Nia teacher, and she comes ready to dance and share herself, and no on else shows up. She stands alone in the studio space.

To dance, or not to dance; that is the question. The options for not dancing are endless and very reasonable. There is always more laundry to do, not to mention getting groceries at this time would free up time tomorrow, and be less busy at the store. Depending on the teacher, he may or may not choose to dance in the space alone. I almost always dance whether or not students show up. I enjoy dancing all the time, and it’s a good time to practice. Especially when there is a beautiful studio just sitting there, empty.

I had a no-show class today. I usually don’t take these occurrences personally, but today was hot and really humid. It made me feel tired and heavy and lethargic, and I had quietly been hoping that the energy and enthusiasm I usually have for Nia would ooze from some of the students in class… but students there were NONE! Oh woe! I thought. How beastly and lonely I feel! It is an insult to SUCH a gorgeous studio (The Art of Fitness) NOT to dance in it! Fine! I will dance anyway – to hell with the heat and my lethargy. No one is here to judge me. I will dance at level 0.5 if I have to!

So, I proceeded to creep and slither across the floor, digging into the depths of my body and spirit to find some energy to dance. I chose not to play the traditional routine’s music for Butterfly, but a playlist I found on my iPod called ‘Butterfly-Rock’. I didn’t quite remember the songs I’d chosen, but it sounded more exciting and the surprise would keep me on my toes. Nia teachers will often fiddle with music once they are comfortable with the original routine. It allows for our personal flare and creativity to be expressed in the class, and it’s just plain fun! The routine started off the same as it always did, and by the third song in, The Way of the Priest by Purekane, I was losing hope about it being the uplifting and surprising boost I felt I needed. Sometimes I just add one song at the end or in the middle of a routine, and that’s not very exciting – well at least, this sticky and hot afternoon it wasn’t! So I muscled on. I got into Butterfly Heart by Chris Coco, and experimented with different arm swinging movements to entertain myself. Truth be told (ssshhhh) I can get bored with some of the movements, so here I played around with different ideas – some of which I plan to use! Then there’s the free dance portion. Those of you who know me will know that I LOVE free dance. But today, I wasn’t feeling it! Crazy, I know! But on the second round of free dance, I kicked myself in the arse and forced myself to skip like a kid through the park. I waved my arms around (very Duncan dance), and got myself to feel the “wind” in my face from my speed. The end of the piece uses the skipping forward while lifting the arms slowly upwards, and then running backwards in repeating sets. This worked up my heart rate and I was panting and smiling by the end – my running backwards at the end usually turns into a silly, “Aaaah! Run from the crazy dog!” sprint! So I was climbing out of my sticky hot hole of alone-ness… and then…

NA NA NA COME ON!!! Yells Rihanna from the stereo!

WOO-HOO! This is what I had been yearning for! I had reached the ROCK part of my ‘Butterfly-rock’ playlist. I had risen out of my doldrums with Butterfly Heart, and this took me up, up and away! I had substituted this for the sometimes seemingly long and repetitive Summertime, also by Chris Coco. I like it-like it WAY more with this music. There are blocks,

jazz squares

and kicks

in this kata that repeat in a particular pattern which can feel endless with the original music. So I had changed it! And it was fanTAStic!

The routine continued with different songs mixed in with the originals and I felt energized and enthusiastic again! An all-time favourite among the Southern Ontario Nia teachers (and beyond, I’m sure) is the track, Rock Your Body by Music Instructor. I had added this to the mix too! I use it as a mixture of guided movement and free dance. The choreography is a lot more interpretive allowing for lots of creativity from students. But today, I just tore up the space and flew through the air and played the strings!

The weather did not keep me down, and I left the studio feeling refreshed despite the thick red-gold sun-soaked air. The lesson for me in this was: dance. No matter how I feel. Just dance. No matter what, I will feel better! Even with no one to share the space with. This was a rare opportunity to fill the space totally with myself! Expanding one’s energy field further than the usual day-to-day size is liberating. It feels like breathing in much much more deeply and fully. It is a way to let one’s spirit truly soar. Dance ESPECIALLY when you don’t feel like it! Use my experience to your advantage!

  1. Thank YOU, Kirstie! You are a terrific writer and dancer!!

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