I was nervous when I stepped into a Nia FreeDance class. While I enjoy the small amounts of free dance within a typical routine, I anticipated that having an entire class of it might feel like too much, loose and unstructured.

In July of 2014, I tried 5 Rhythms for the first time, which also has a loose structure.  Like Nia, there is a certain arc to a 5 Rhythms class – from slow to fast to slow again.  There is also a lot of freedom within this cycle of stages and pacing, and encouragement to move consciously and intentionally.  The class I took was energetically intense at points, like when one or two people stopped and started yelling out or sobbing on the sides of the room.  It was really challenging and overstimulating for me to be in the room with that level of emotional intensity and expression.

I was concerned FreeDance would feel similar to this. After experiencing two FreeDance classes last week in Santa Fe, I think it did in some ways and not in others.  I also realize that it’s now a year and a half later, and I’m in a very different place in my dance practice and life.  I did experience ebbs and flows of emotions, and I was able to manage the energy.

Nia FreeDance is based off of White Belt Principle #4 of FreeDance, which has eight stages, including listening to the music and bringing out feelings and emotions.  All of these stages come together to aid choreographers in creating routines, whether in a class structure or in an official capacity.  It’s definitely a creativity-based process.  In the FreeDance class, the teacher gives some suggestions.  There’s definitely a structure to the class and there’s also permission to move in any way and see how it feels.

I got tears in my eyes when the teacher asked us to focus on our primary emotion.  I felt a sense of rawness and elation. I explored repetitive movement, experimenting with exaggerating movements then making them smaller, noticing how the size of gestures affected me.

I experienced joy in dancing with one of my classmates, as we gave each other inspiration and our moves fed off of each other. I felt graceful at times, weaving around the other dancers with ease. There was a moment where I backed into someone and felt extremely clumsy. And I kept moving.

The first FreeDance class I attended last Saturday, I definitely had moments where I moved quickly and got out of breath.  On Sunday, I took it slower, coming down to the floor more, taking care of my tired muscles.  At the end, I knew I had taken the time and space to follow myself, savor the music, and take in the energy of the room.


2 responses to this post.

  1. There are regular FreeDance classes at Studio Nia Santa Fe, huh? That is cool. Not everyone can FreeDance . . . it takes practice for some.


    • Yes, they’ve had weekly FreeDance classes since January. I wish I could go more often – traveling one hour away is both close and far. As I continue to explore the White Belt principles, I’ve realized that FreeDance is both loose and quite structured. I enjoy FreeDance…and I also know of others who really don’t prefer it and want more guidance.


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