Reflections on the Toronto FAB Training

The Nia FAB Choreography & 52 Moves Training was created to bring all belts under the same roof, hence the term FAB (which stands for For All Belts). The first Nia FAB was in Portland, OR with more than 100 Nia teachers coming together. I’ll never forget it. 

Last week, on my way to Toronto, after almost 30 years of having Carlos as my creative partner, I couldn’t imagine feeling what I was about to feel at this FAB. The experience was a profound lesson, and made me realize how focusing so much on “Carlos and Debbie” made me, in many ways, blind to the abundance of creativity and talent right in front of my eyes, in my students – belt graduates and non-graduates alike. 

With Next Generation Trainer (NGT) Kevin VerEecke by my side, I became increasingly aware that a new Nia culture is emerging – one of joyful collaboration and creativity. It is a culture built on support, co-creation, love and inspiration; inspiration not only from me, but also from the talent and wisdom that lies within each and every one of you. 

I think if you asked anyone who attended the FAB, they would agree that being a part of the new Nia culture means really learning The 52 Moves (conceptually, physically and energetically), the language of the practice, to bring the voice of Nia out for everybody to hear. A big part of fully grasping the movements is understanding Principle 3 (Music and the 8BC System). This principle helps us understand sound, and when we do this, we gain a choreographic edge and a deeper connection to sensory-based movement.

We spent time listening to accents, marked by a greater intensity or beat. We listened to harmony, discovering the true relationship between two or more tones. We paid attention to melody, the organized succession of tones that produce a distinct idea, and to mood, the attitude and personality of sound. We explored phrasing (sound themes) and rest, those unique pauses that occur between sounds. We engaged with rhythm, that which we generally move and jive to – the series of notes or beats that when grouped together create patterns, that wonderful yang pulse that complements the yin flow of melody. 

And then we studied syncopation, tempo and vibration. After all, sound is a vibration; it is what has the first affect on your human body. Your bones, muscles, skin and cells are engulfed by the sea of energy we call sound resonance. It is the sound resonance I wanted everyone to reconnect to, as it triggers chemical responses in the muscles and nervous system. I described how sound enters our ears and how our eardrums identify what we hear through a process of feature extraction followed by another process of featured integration. We then played with sounding, using our voices as we practiced The 52 Moves. 

My husband, Nia CEO Jeff, calls one of the activities we did “Nia Idol.” The FAB group of teachers listened to green-lighted music for the next to-be-created Nia routine. They broke up into groups of 10 and created choreography. Then we voted on which we liked best. Each group blew my mind. And Kevin completely wowed me with his clarity and precision of teaching.

As I looked at the faces of the teachers, I realized what an amazing community we are. The education we share teaches people about their bodies, and makes it possible for everybody to transform their lives. 

Thank you, Toronto. Thank you, Kevin. Thank you, Anna Schantz, for producing this event.