Nia and Jazz Dance

nIa and jazz dance
nIa and jazz dance

Why “JAZZ Dance”? A series of articles on the nine Nia movement forms.

I love the fact that the Nia Technique is based on 52 moves, and that our bodies can move in an unrestricted and limitless manner that allow for personal and imaginative interpretation. Visualize a session where we are dancing a well-known program focusing on yoga arts, then we delve into the same program in a follow-up session but this time the focus is on Jazz Dance. Although both classes may be based on the same moves, they deliver a completely different feel. And that’s ultimately what we are striving for.

When we talk about JAZZ Dance in this case, we need to imagine much more than just the moves, like ‘jazz squares (triad)’ or ‘shimmies’. We should imagine the energy and excitement that JAZZ dance can generate; the fun, sassy and sexy look-at-me kind of energy, at times bouncy like popcorn, other times sudden and unexpected like a bolt of lightning. It’s a flash dance with an attitude that moves you to the puts you up front where you tell your own story through movement.

Here are a few Jazz Dance workout tips from Debbie and Carlos Rosas, founders of the Nia Technique:

– Move and express yourself with pizzazz
– Move and be aware of isolated body parts
– Move and use your face and hands to speak to the world
– Move and play with small gestures that speak with passionate emotion

(Debbie Rosas & Carlos Rosas, The Nia Technique, New York, Broadway books, 2004, p.270)

So why JAZZ Dance? Jazz energy teaches us how to get on the stage of life if we need to. It drives us to show our individuality and helps us to be more outspoken and less restrained. This particular energy will especially benefit people who wish to practice free self-expression in a relaxed environment, like the one that a Nia class can provide. Through JAZZ dance, I was able to teach myself how not to shy away from being in the spotlight, which in turn led me to guide others and become a Nia teacher.

For those who feel at ease with the unique energy that JAZZ Dance creates, your Nia workout will prove to be an even more playful and childlike experience.

Are you a JAZZ-y person? I would love to hear how you play with Jazz energy in or outside your Nia class.

I can count my blessings…
Get in your body, be you – Nia

I can count my blessings to have been able to work with a group of knowledgeable, professional, kind and, utterly awesome people within the last 6 months. As the year rolls on, I decided to look back at some of the resolutions I set for myself at the beginning of 2015. The goals included finding my unique voice, particularly for communicating my ideas and developing Nia Dance as a business, and also to experiment with a variety of Nia teaching styles and training methods. I feel like much has been accomplished and I would like to mention the special people and their businesses, who directly or indirectly helped me in achieving my goals.

1. Hiba Samawi Giacoletto – Health coach and psychologist at

Hiba and I partnered for a few events that combined movement and food exercises in order to attain the new level of ‘being in the body’ sensation. Highly professional, resourceful and sophisticated, but also humble and friendly, Hiba taught me a great deal about food and food ingredients, including spices. While I follow a large number of blogs and own countless cook books, I have to admit that it is really convenient to have someone show you new techniques, trends, give you personalized advice and shares easy-to-follow recipes.

2. Debra Moffitt – award-winning author, teacher at

I met Debra on numerous occasions, including Nia dance classes and as a co-lead in a workshop for the ETC group. I also read one of Debra’s books ‘The Garden of Bliss’. The book reveals her personal story and gently guides the reader to experiment with dreams, visualizations and meditations. Debra’s unique ability to guide, combined with her candid humor moved me to follow her workshops on writing. Theses workshops ultimately helped me to sort out my thoughts and ditch the fear of opening-up while pursuing my dream of sharing Nia. With the help of these workshops, I dared to experiment with different teaching styles that lead me to who I now am as a Nia teacher.

3. Anine Eklund – ETC co-founder, blogger at

Anine is the organizer behind the wonderful ETC group where I had a chance to present Nia Dance twice in January 2015. Anine possesses unparalleled ability to connect people while bringing forward the best of their talents. She is also an extremely insightful, knowledgeable, honest and straightforward person. If you are a business woman and want your business to be exposed to a larger circle, come to meet her and other like-minded people.

4. Brigitte Lawler – Life Coach at

This year I did what I never thought I would do: I got myself a life coach. I was looking forward to our Skype sessions with enthusiasm and anticipation. Brigitte’s style is fun and encouraging and she knows exactly what questions to ask. She leads you to a space where aha moments are laying there waiting to be ‘discovered’. These sessions taught me patience and encouraged me once again to experiment with different Nia teaching styles.

5. Nesrin Everett – Coach, Consultant and Thought Partner at

I met Nesrin at one of Hiba Giacoletto events and immediately recognized her as a person who thrives on living holistically. I had one coaching session with her on the topic of communication and was blown away by her insights and professionalism. She is coaching oil professionals and business executives and comes highly recommended. She is extremely clear in her communication and at the same time very thoughtful in her presentation style, a rare quality.

The Body’s Way: 5 Reasons to Dance Nia

This article was written for and originally appeared on 

In 2010, I realized something in my life was missing, but I couldn’t get a hold on what it was.

I stopped my usual workouts at the gym and started taking some serious Pilates classes in a small studio next to my office. Pilates training works great for me as my body craves exercise and loves discipline and physical effort. I was even considering becoming a Pilates teacher when my husband and I went to see the Merce Cunningham Legacy Tour concert in Wiesbaden, Germany in May 2011. I have a ballet background and have danced and practiced yoga most of my life and I was totally inspired by the dancers, their passion, their ability to express emotions, their incredible body control and physical presence. On the way back, I realized that, in fact, dance was what I was missing and I kept thinking of how I could bring it back into my life.

Then I remembered a ‘movement’ class called Nia that I had tried in California back in 2009. The originality, creativity and physical self-expression of the discipline had enthused me in much the same way. Once back home, I started research on how to become a Nia teacher and signed up for a Nia teacher training course two months later. The further I got into the training, the more it would become apparent that although I had a dance background, I had to let go of my schooled dance moves and let my body guide me.

In other words, I had to learn “My Body’s” way.

Today I am a certified Nia Teacher and have been leading regular weekly classes and participating in creative events since 2011.


So what is a Nia class like?

Nia consists of 52 easy, body-centered moves that draw on Dance Arts, Martial Arts and Healing Arts, like yoga. Nia’s 52 moves include various steps, stances, and foot, hand and finger techniques to name a few. These particular moves, combined with a free dance element make Nia a wholesome practice that helps to bring physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being to students. A Nia class works through 7 cycles and is set to music varying from world music to rock and pop. No Nia class is the same and no Nia teacher is alike.  This is what I enjoy the most about being a Nia Teacher. I get to mix and match music and movement, which keeps me in a creative flow for hours while planning my classes and events.

The Body’s Way

One of the main principles of Nia is what is called the “Body’s Way”. Since everybody has different levels of mobility and stability, students are encouraged to pay special attention to their body in order to develop body awareness. At the same time, students need to recognize body sensations such as pleasure and pain. Before I started practicing Nia I wasn’t aware of my body the way I am now. With Nia, I have come to truly understand and love my body through discipline, healthy eating habits, exercise and rest.

I have learned to let go of my negative emotions and allow my body to thrive on joy, love and pleasure – all while dancing. I am wholly focused on helping others find their Body’s Way, and delight in seeing the glowing satisfaction of the students at the conclusion of each workout. Each class features a different emphasis, but it is ultimately up to the individual to follow, or to work with their own particular focus. My job is to guide students through the routine in a relaxed atmosphere with warmth and humor, while exhibiting the different energies found in Nia training.

What is your focus today – is it the joy of movement, forgetting an unpleasant thought or situation, or simply breaking a sweat? You are welcome to dance through it with other members of the non-judgmental Nia community. No dancing experience is necessary to dance your Body’s Way!

Here are my 5 reasons to practice Nia:


When we let our body guide us through movements, our inner ‘dialogue’ will naturally diminish. Just try to free dance at home without attaching to your thoughts and notice how your mind stops roaming and chattering.


Delight in your Nia teacher when she laughs and plays like a child, then follow her lead. Express your personal power by doing arm blocks, chops, and kicks…all while releasing negative emotions in a fun and playful way.


The playfulness of Nia helps to relax your body as you let go of your emotions. This allows you to recharge and rebalance, which in turn helps you to accomplish more in your daily tasks.


Choose your intensity level from 1 to 3, and shape your workout according to your own needs. Sense your own energy of “now” for achieving the best results. If you feel like having an athletic workout today, stick to level 2 and 3. If your focus is body awareness, use level 1 and 2. Your teacher will suggest all three levels in the class.


Have you heard of catching flies, creepy crawlers, and claw hand or spear fingers? These are Nia moves that train the small muscles in your upper extremities. I personally practice these everyday because I spend way too much time on my Mac using repetitive movements. Essential…

Nia is like chocolate – it’s hard to describe, you just have to taste it.