Nia Testimonial: Kari Starkey, Nia Teacher
My background in Nia began with a high school modern dance class in Oklahoma City. I loved modern dance. I loved it at my private school and then really loved it at the Innovative Arts High School I graduated from. But I did not have the body that I thought I "should" have for the skin-colored unitards we performed in for the show.
I moved toward drama in college and attended a Dramatic Arts Academy in San Francisco for one summer to see if I would be a fit for their conservatory. I was not fitting in, so I moved into comedy. A few years later, I moved back to OKC and opened a coffee shop. I knew there were others who wanted espresso drinks too. And there were. I then sold the shop and worked at Children's Theatre and Arts Center, got married, had a baby, created a children's show (because we believe that live entertainment for kids should be an awesome, fun experience for adults as well) and then bought a 100-year-old grocery store building (that had previously been an artists' studio, apartment and frame shop) and turned it into The Pink Cloud Creative Space & Guest House for folks to rent (the C. space for classes, parties, workshops, etc., and the guest house as an alternative to a hotel).
Why do you practice and/or teach Nia?
I had to be physically led to step into an acceptance of my body. I can't think my way out of my head, which often says what I "should do" and "should be"–all kinds of negative thoughts and lame ego limits.
I learned somatically how amazing it is to be "free" in my body the way it is right here and now. I learned to move through life with such fun! It was this connection that was so powerful to me-–the mind-body-spirit acceptance that I am perfectly imperfect and amazing, just the way I am right now. And this notion came to me through movement that was guided and free at the same time–and not performance-oriented. This movement made me love moving my joints and feeling the blood go through my incredible veins; it made me appreciate being alive.
So I teach Nia to share that experience through movement, music, connection, energy and gratitude.
Where and with whom do you take Nia classes and/or trainings?
About a year ago, I looked up Nia in Oklahoma and couldn't find a class! I took a Nia class in Dallas, and went back for another. I told the teacher, Jule, about our space in OKC, and that she should come up and teach. She said, "I would love to. I have friends in OKC." She also asked, "Why don't you take Nia Whit Belt Training and learn to teach?" I talked with my best friend in San Francisco and my spiritual advisor friend in OKC, and they both said the same thing: "Why dont you teach Nia here?"
So in March of this year, I decided, that if my family came with, and we could schedule it on spring break somewhere fun, I would do it. I had no time to talk myself out of it. I took my White Belt Training in Denver, CO with Loretta Milo and ten of the most beautiful, inspiring other dancers. We had an amazing experience. We were at the Soma Studio, and the whole week it was like we parted the clouds and found heaven on earth.
What is one thing most people don't know about Nia?
That I can't think my way out of thinking that I'm fat or unhealthy or not beautiful. I must move my way into a new way of being, and the thinking follows. If l drop down from my head and into my body, I can know that I am–and everthing is–beautiful and amazing. I believe this when I dance. I dont judge or compare when I am in a Nia class. I am free from those old thought patterns.
What tip can you give someone who is considering trying Nia for the first time?
First, get an awesome pedicure. Second, open your heart and your mind by moving your body.
What are you seeking?