As Nia teachers, one of our key tasks is to learn a new routine. We are fortunate to have a team of Nia choreographers that produce an eclectic collection of Nia routines. The routines are built on the framework of Nia’s 52 moves, so there is a uniting language for them all. However, the music, the patterns, and the intent change with each routine. New routines are filmed annually and distributed to Nia’s body of teachers worldwide. They, in turn, share with their students, adding diversity and novelty to everyone’s movement practice.
Embodying a new routine takes us through a cycle called Learn-Move-Energize. The first stage of embodiment, Learn, engages the mental realm above all else. It takes thought, analysis, and understanding to learn a routine, whether you are taking on the movement as a student or memorizing it as a teacher. For those of us who are somatic movers, this stage can be uncomfortable, and even unsettling at first. The phrase “learning curve” applies to this and can be quite steep or long, especially for the teacher who will be leading the hour of choreography.
We begin the Move cycle when our attention can return to the somatic experience of completing the movement patterns and sequences. In this stage we begin to notice how our core engages with each step. We notice the sensations in our base and how our upper extremities are expressing themselves. We sense the conditioning and changes that occur in our bodies while moving. We tap into our source of joy, the sensation of dancing! Our bodies respond as we integrate each step with the music that inspires it all.
Energize is when we bring the artistry alive. Adding visualizations to generate movement quality and using vocalization to enhance sensation are a couple of examples of this. Tapping into the emotional message of each song also awakens an expressive aspect of movement, shown by the gentle movement of a hand, a smile or tear adorning a face, or a powerful expression of confidence while shouting YES or NO! Energizing is when we add our uniqueness to the routine and make it our own.
I’m in the Move stage of learning a new routine and loving it. The routine is Sacred, choreographed by Kelle Oien, Nia teacher and trainer from Santa Fe, NM. I love this stage as I begin to relax into the experience of delivering this body of work. As I continue, my students will do the same. Before long, we will all be wearing our skin in a new way, thanks to the endless opportunity for movement variety that a new routine represents! Thank you, Nia choreographers, for all you create for the world!!!

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