“When we know that the transmission of experience is somatic, we can see how to find our way back to a somatic reference. It brings another body into existence. This mimics creation. From our body’s deep desires, tissue consciousness grows. The body communicates it in stories we call myth."
—Stanley Keleman, Myth & the Body
I love so many things about Nia and one of my favorite practices is something we do called FreeDance. Unlike the structure of what many people imagine as "dance," FreeDance is rooted in freedom, providing you with a way to play with movement, music and emotion. The result, time and again, is the endless discovery of new ways to move your body and express your own authentic dance.
FreeDance is one of the underlying foundations for exploring the body and self through Nia; so much so that it is the name and focus of White Belt Principle 4. It is the "freedom" compliment to the "form" of Nia's 52 Moves, which blends martial arts, dance arts and healing arts into one self-expressive movement form. The practice has eight unique stages. When combined, these stages stimulate movement creativity, a sense of vitality and renewal, self-healing and well-being. The best part is: anyone can learn to FreeDance – all you need is music and your body!
FreeDance is a fitness practice you never have to talk yourself into doing; it feeds your mind and body’s appetite for discovery, expression, spontaneity and improvisation. With regular practice, you will naturally begin to tune into the uniqueness of each moment and find yourself more "in" your body, connected to life through your body. I promise: no dance will ever feel the same because as FreeDance reveals, you are never the same.
FreeDance ignites your desire to learn more about who you are – and who you can be – by encouraging you to move differently, listen to music more intimately and deeply connect to your emotions. The practice expands your movement choices, helping you break rigid or repetitive movement habits and inspiring you to express yourself in more dynamic ways. FreeDance allows you to move without "editing," without interfering with your natural movements, bringing your unconscious creative self to the surface. I call this "self" the Sacred Artist, the one who has access to a movement palette filled with possibilities, poured onto a canvas of creativity where magic happens again and again.
Unlike many forms of dance, FreeDance is a practice of connecting you to you, to Your Body’s Way, naturally revealing your current ways of moving and expressing the possibilities of your true self. It shows you there is always more – another feeling, style and expression that reveals who you are in this moment and who you desire and dream to be. Every beat, each pulse, contraction and expansion of your cells, the movement of your tissues and liquids, represents your body moving, changing and reproducing. Going with the flow and riding the waves of your own spontaneity puts you in direct contact with the sensation of The Body’s Way, an inspiring and motivating sensory voice that says to you, “I am alive, healthy and reproducing myself as something new.”
I love the simplicity of FreeDance, how it provides a playground on which to explore all my emotions, bringing me closer to the source of my “real” emotions. I love the process of consciously seeking and creating movement variety, new pulses, contractions and expansions, each one a sensation that for me defines a new edge and a breaking of old boundaries. It is by safely coming close to my new boundaries that I create a new shape and in this way, FreeDance makes it possible for me to expand and explore my potential.
FreeDance is how we journey into the "river of the unexpected," a powerful journey of self-discovery that turns the "old" into the "new." This is an essential element of overall fitness and well-being, as new, novel and fascinating experiences exercise not just the body, but also the brain. On a deeply personal level, FreeDance expands our awareness of personal potential, opening our eyes and minds to new possibilities and helping us develop a relationship with our bodies, our selves and with the world and nature at large. When we FreeDance with others in a Nia class - and ultimately through life! - we develop a deep understanding that we are all one, connected to something magic and grand, something sacred.
Those of us who use Nia in our fitness and lifestyle practice know that each dance is the dress rehearsal for the next experience; each class and each moment of life is our stage. Personally, FreeDance has helped me listen to each part of myself that makes up the whole: my body and its sensations; my mind, thoughts and images; all my emotions and feelings; and my spirit, that which is unique about me. Every time I dance, I sense myself imprinting new messages of love and pleasure into my cells, informing my bones, muscles and organs how to move differently and reminding them that they can express new, healthier ways of existing that feed my sacred purpose.
Unleashing your passion through FreeDance is a process of uncovering who you are, a way to find that hidden part of you that comes alive as you learn to drop the old and embrace the new. FreeDance gives you a platform for constant renewal guided by internal forces, not external images that tell you how you "should" be or what you "should" do. It gives you the opportunity to self-refer, to connect to your body, to your feelings, to pleasurable sensations and thoughts. By dancing and referring to "self," you become aware of the choices and decisions you are making, good and bad. Upon reflection, you can make changes to support your healing and transformation to more deeply understand and love your body and life.
But don't take my word for it! In this brief moment in time, take the time to FreeDance. Your dance reveals the story you tell yourself, reflecting the part you play in the movie of your life. Follow the eight stages of FreeDance as outlined in this month's student handout download. This handout will give you a fun new practice and a unique way to experience who you are.
FreeDance and look inward. Use all eight stages as a catalyst to provoke improvisational movement changes, shifts in your attention, heightened and new ways of listening, a new relationship with your emotions and new ways of expressing yourself. Move from the inside; dance from internal mechanisms that keep you in touch with what is meaningful to you. Play with spontaneity, freedom and inspiration and evolve into your own new creation. FreeDance and rewrite the story of your life every day, through every dance.
- Use the eight stages of FreeDance outlined in this student handout to FreeDance to the NiaSounds CD Passion!
- For more information about Nia and the study of the body and life as art, visit our Training Overview page.
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