Rhythmwood: A 10-Year Vision

The following post is written by Nia Trainer Martha Randall, who is based in Toronto, Canada.

"Take me to the places on the earth that teach you how to dance, the places where you can risk letting the world break your heart, and I will take you to the places where the earth beneath my feet and the stars overhead make my heart whole again and again."

-Oriah Mountain Dreamer

As the world’s athletes were celebrated with a closing ceremony in London, England, last week, a number of Nia sacred athletes were gathered in the woods of an earthy, rural section of Ontario, Canada, to be witnesses to the opening ceremony of Rhythmwood, the Nia studio of Nia Black Belt Wendy Roman.

And this is no refurbished barn or reclaimed dance hall down the road! This is a studio fashioned from the clay and water of the pond on the Roman's property, as Wendy and her husband Rick (and two daughters) created a straw-bale building with their own hands, and with the help of a large community around them for over 10 years. The walls, floor and roof have the fingerprints of Wwoofers from all over the world as well. Talk about sustained focus and intention!

Wendy’s story reminds me of the movie Field of Dreams and the line, “Build it and they will come.” She had the vision and beginnings of Rhythmwood the year before she met Nia, so her studio seemed to call Wendy to her life’s work, and, as Anna Schantz commented, the story of Rhythmwood is an exemplary
example of living life as art. Wendy’s commitment to living life with joy, to her Nia practice, and to her community, is alive in the beautiful details of the studio.

The ceremonial opening of this studio was also a work of art, with every detail carefully orchestrated by celebrant Suzanne Myers. Through beautiful poetry, drum, the elements, the four directions, roses from her students, a 52 stranded braid of straw for the door, artwork in the studio, an honouring of her mentor
Roberta Mohler, first Nia Teacher Judith Thompson and Nia sister Val McGiverin, and a whooping Nia jam with Ontario teachers, the studio was richly blessed. Thank you Wendy, for letting us all be a part of this celebration! And here's a heartfelt congratulations!

And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if
your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection even as if your beloved were to
dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even
as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit.

-Kahlil Gibran

Here’s a shoutout of gratitude to all the Nia teachers out there who hold a dream in their heart, who find themselves in isolated communities, who sustain their practice and their vision, and who create beautiful environments for us to dance in.