The key to lasting comfort in the body is to dance through life. Dance at all times ;-)
David was exposed to Dance at a young age through Musical Theater, and later discovered Nia and Contact Improvisation. Throughout his healing journey the Dance Arts have played an important role. In recent years David has discovered that there is a small dance occurring at all times within the body, even in moments of apparent stillness. His Bodywork practice is constantly evolving to incorporate more fluidity of movement, integration, and relaxation; all of these principles flow from the dance.
What is Contact Improvisation?
Contact Improvisation (CI) is a joyful and expressive form of dance that facilitates authentic connections. This connection could occur between a dancer and the earth, with space, between two or more dancers, and all of the above. As you would guess from the name, there is no choreography nor planning. Dancers move freely through the space, connecting at will with other individuals or groups. CI can be practiced in pairs, in larger groups, and alone.
CI Tools & Techniques
There are many tools to explore :-) here are some themes that I will expand upon over time.
Exploring the space, and playing with Negative Space:
Each class typically begins with individuals exploring the physical space and dance floor in their own way, and at their own speed. Playing on the floor, allowing the eyes to explore and initiate full body movements. Each person in the room leaves energetic trails as they move, and each person influences all of the others in a subtle way. Without ever physically touching, it is possible to have intimate and complex dances with any number of others.
The Small Dance: getting in touch with your own body and balance:
Stand still, close your eyes. Feel inside yourself. Quickly, you'll notice that you are never really still. You can sense the subtle movements of the body and breath, the automatic firings of muscles in the legs and the spine to keep the body upright. The longer one stays, the more sensation and awareness develops. Learning to recognize the subtle movements and reactions in your own body will help to sense these same movements in another.
Meditation or Drama:
In the context of a dance, you have two choices. One choice is to become meditative, to flow without effort, to move slowly and peacefully in tune with your group or partner. The other option is drama, which would entail some type of instigation. When you initiate drama, you are asking something from your partner, perhaps through a push or pull.
Levels... Space, Skin, Muscles, Bones:
When dancing with a partner, different levels of contact and interaction can be explored.
First, is self discovery and the exploration of negative space. Though still interacting with others (with lots of eye contact), we play in the empty spaces created by the movements of another person, without physical contact.
Physical contact begin at the level of the skin. In this dance, both all partners support their own bodyweight and interact only superficially with others. Contact can be a rolling point, or involve sliding or jumping from place to place.
Later, we begin to lean into each other, and explore the level of muscle. In this situation, the partners are relying on equal and opposite force from another in order to maintain their position. Still, rotation and interaction are possible as both partners lean into each other.
Finally, one partner creates a stable base and other other can fly, leaving the ground completely for a short time. It is the structure of the bones that allows for this and even very small people can be the base for much larger fliers. These techniques borrow some philosophy from AcroYoga and modern dance, and with practice it is possible to perform some very advanced acrobatics and tricks.
Here are more themes to explore in the future:
-Translating linear momentum into rotational or potential energy.
-Changing Levels Safely (there is no "falling"
-Landing Gear - your hands are feet
History of Nia
Created in 1983 by Debbie Rosas and Carlos AyaRosas, NIA originally stood for Non-Impact Aerobics, and was the first major fitness movement where people were encouraged to take off their shoes and express themselves.
Later, in the 90’s, embracing NIA’s complexity and the scientific principles that back up its benefits, it adopted the new name Neuromuscular Integrative Action. The reflected the reality that in Nia we are building new neural connections, creating pathways or Joy and expression and reinforcing those pathways with each practice. We are learning more and more about how the brain works and know that the more a pathway is used, the more reinforced it becomes, and Nia helps people to create strengthen those pathways that lead to stress-free living, community, and equanimity.
Alas, the complicated scientific terms never caught on, and Debbie and Carlos ultimately decided that the name Nia could stand on its own, without an acronym to back it up. And so, Nia was truly born.
The the language Swahili, Nia means “Purpose.” It is a formational principle in the celebration of Kwanzaa and carries the theme of coming together, building Community, and seeking to restore the cultural greatness of all peoples. It hardly seems a coincidence.
Nia's 52 Principles
Nia’s foundation is laid out in its 52 principles. Each principle has a lesson to learn and applications to the Nia Class experience and to everyday life. The lessons range from body awareness, anatomy, and alignment to communication, community, and experiencing Joy.
Nia is an extremely thorough and balanced practice, melding mind, body and spirit. With Nia we take the group fitness experience far beyond the physical body and bridge new depths into emotion, expression, and freedom.
Personally, I leave each class feeling like a child – joyful, exuberant, energized, and beaming! I can’t possibly explain in words how it feels to dance Nia. I hope you will come experience Nia for yourself… and you’ll get hooked like the rest of us!
Nia's 52 Moves
Nia’s movements are grounded in the “52 moves,” and brought to life through music and the intentional energy of Nia’s nine seed art forms (Modern-Duncan-Jazz Dance; Aikido-Tai Kwon Do-Tai Chi; Alexander Technique-Feldenkrais Method-Yoga).
The 52 moves form the foundation for choreographed movement. The movements can be performed in isolation or combined and mixed with each other to form complex and artistic patterns.
Here is a sampling of the Nia 52 Moves:
· Stances: Closed, Open, “A”, Sumo, Cat, Bow
· Attacks: Punches, Kicks, chops, Elbow Strikes
· Blocks: Upward, Outward, Downward, Inward
· Feet: Heel lead,Whole foot, Ball of Foot, Releve, Rocking Step, Toes in/out
· Hands: Palm Directions, Webbed Spaces, touching, pumping
· Fingers: Extensions, Flicks, Spear, Catching Flies, Claw, Power, Balance
· Core: Pelvic Circles, Hip Bumps, Chest Isolations, Shimmy, Undulate, Roll
· Head and Eye movements