Sadly, in my 24 years as a Nia teacher I have danced through terrible tragedies, personal and world-wide. The first was the Oklahoma bombing. I was teaching Nia at the University of Texas. It was a time when high energy aerobics just wouldn’t be appropriate. Fortunately, Debbie Rosas had choreographed a routine called Heal Our Land. It couldn’t have been more perfect. We were able to enter the class with the gravity of the situation and dance our way to our feelings. It was a powerful moment for me as the teacher. It felt like I was leading a memorial service for all those that had been hurt.
I experienced this again most notably with the week of 9/11. In the midst of a White Belt training at NiaSpace in Austin we were all shaken to our core. That morning, after the event, we broke for a while to make phone calls and connect with loved ones. We ultimately decided to continue the training and open the studio to our students. At class time, people began pouring into NiaSpace, each with the look of shock and despair on their faces. That night we danced the routine Moodfood. It took us in the soft rhythms and layered sounds, through the voice of Martin Luther King, and into a deep place of self and sensing. Many of us were weeping through the class. That experience continued to happen in each class that week, drawing our community closer together.
Last week, once again, I was rocked by the violent event in Las Vegas. I found myself feeling bored and agitated, not wanting to teach. With some reflection I realized I was masking my feelings of sadness, despair and helplessness. I knew in that moment that I needed to craft a class to meet these feelings, not run away from them. I wanted a class that would soothe and strengthen us. I wanted to feel to heal. Powerful music took us on a journey of compassion and self-healing.
Nia continues to prove that Dancing Through Life includes it all, the happy, the sad, the ecstatic and the tragic. Emotional energy is a powerful tool. Nia helps us move with our emotions, transforming the helplessness into action, energizing our beings to bring more good into the world.