I have jumped back into the shoes of the beginner learner this fall with “Nia.” Nia integrates concepts from fitness, martial arts and Alexander Technique among others into 55 minutes of choreographed and free movement!
Disclaimer: I have NEVER taken dance before, but have always loved dancing. I didn’t anticipate learning dance would present so many cool movement challenges for me. Learning that I take back to my flute. Many of the moves were quite challenging to execute in the midst of feeling a beat and moving through space. (Hmmm, this sounds like performing music doesn’t it?)
My first reaction to the challenges was to concentrate, to try harder. When I did this, movement became awkward and out of sync. So I decided to employ inclusive awareness and integrate the sights, sounds, tactile and kinesthetic senses into my awareness. This change enabled me to sync with the music and begin to move in new ways. Shifting awareness is a game changer that is often the key to moving with greater ease and poise.
Two very cool movement challenges stand out in this new learning process…
The first, learning to move my hands in more expressive ways. I know my hands as they relate to playing the flute and computer keyboard, but I hadn’t explored the expressive capacity of hand movement, (although I have thought about it and noticed it in beautiful movers.) Getting to know my hands in this new capacity is an exciting addition to the movement potential of my hands. This is influencing my approach to the flute, giving me a new way to relate to my instrument. This new approach is a more delicate contact with the flute, which allows me to utilize less force to move keys. The second challenge has been for my feet to interact more gently with the floor. This challenge has a little to do with the feet themselves, and everything to do with how my feet connect into legs, pelvis, spine. In fact, softening my feet almost magically changed the way my hands move, revealing a very cool elastic relationship between the hand flexors and extensors.
In a recent class, I was thinking about the expressive possibilities for my hands when I suddenly realized that I wouldn’t find the movements I was looking for if my feet were resisting the floor. So I softened my feet, allowing the soles to caress the floor, and almost magically more expressive hands was revealed. Do you ever consider these distant connections in the body when you are looking to refine movement?
I don’t think I would have thought of the beautiful and powerful connection between feet and hands without this experience. NIA is a great addition to the colorful palette of movement explorations I enjoy each day, a great addition to the movement filled lifestyle I am cultivating. For me, NIA, like trapeze, offers a fun way to move and learn as I build coordination and strength. What learning opportunities await you this fall?