Behind the Scenes with Ann Christiansen
We all have those days when getting out of the house is a struggle and making it to a Nia class seems out of the question. Perhaps we have a young child at home or an aging family member we have to take care. Yet, we still want to dance Nia!
Good news! You can. The “U” Class Experience taught by choreographer Ann Christiansen allows you to have your 60-minute class in your own home.
We interviewed Ann and she shares her inspiration for “U”, how she crafted the choreography, the physical benefits of the routine and how dancing Nia at home supplements your Nia classes. Ann also shares a bit of her personal Nia story!
Take a peek.
Nia: What was your inspiration when creating the “U” Routine?
Ann: My inspiration and creative process come from the music. The way Nia uses music and movement together creates Magic. I used FreeDance and noticed which movements provided the “click.” This allowed my body to express the music and me to create the movements from the ground up.
Before creating the routine, I used some of the music in my class. I witnessed how students were dancing and moving. The drum sounds set up a unique environment for conditioning the entire body: left and right side, up and down, in and out, front and back and all around. When the song, “U R the Answer” played, everyone started to sing-a-long. This inspired me to make this the signature song and message for the routine.
N: What is the choreography designed to do for your physical body?
A: "U" is a whole body workout. Starting at the base, it engages all the muscles of the feet through Nia foot techniques. The legs are conditioned through a mix of “stop and go” and “sink and rise” steps and stances. The core and upper body are conditioned through blocks and punches inspired by martial art techniques. Through simultaneously conditioning the upper and lower body the dancer experiences peak cardiovascular fitness.
I direct the dancer to breathe, sound, express oneself and engage with their emotions. This causes wonderful, freeing and stress-releasing effects.
N: Who is this routine for?
A: This routine is for anybody who likes to move and experience health benefits.
- Anybody who is doing other sports/dance/yoga routines and is looking for variation
- Anybody who likes to move to music with simple guidance.
- Anybody who is looking to feel better in their body, mind, emotions & spirit and have fun at the same time!
- Anybody who is searching for an alternative to conventional training modalities and/or has reached a plateau in their usual way of moving.
- Anybody who likes to move barefoot, wants to enliven their feet and desires to dance!
N: How did you create your choreography for the Nia dancer at home?
A: I repeated movements and eventually added more movements to the choreography at the end of each song. I want the dancer at home to feel included in the class and successful in their own workout.
I offered words of encouragement to lift the spirit such as, "Well done!" or "Great!" so that every time you dance it feels uplifting and joyful.
I encouraged the dancer to, "Dance like nobody is watching." I directed my language so the dancer would focus on enjoying their ME time while doing something special for themselves!
N: How can this workout supplement regular Nia classes?
A: Practicing alone with a DVD can be a very nurturing experience, especially when combined with regular Nia classes. This is how we as teachers practice and keep our connection to the movement and material. For me personally, my home has always been a place to spend time with myself; the class is my community.
Ann’s Shares About Her Nia Life!
N: How did you originally discover Nia?
A: I discovered Nia in 1997. My best girlfriend Isabella brought Nia to Sweden after taking a class at the IDEA Health & Fitness Convention in 1996.
N: What propelled you to become a Nia teacher?
A: I fell in love immediately. The only way to get more was to jump into the White Belt training and begin teaching. The rest is history.
N: As you now have 18+ years of being a Nia teacher, how do you make Nia a new experience each time you take or teach a class?
A: Yes it is amazing! Every time I share a class I feel like it is new and renewing. I am very interested in the body and in health. I love music and movement and in Nia, all of it is combined and fun! I get to continually explore Nia and nurture my being. Plus, I get to meet people and travel.
N: Outside of teaching Nia, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: My husband and I love to cook, take walks with our dog Neska, meet friends and travel together.