How Choreography Gives You MORE Freedom (and not more restriction)

A comment I often hear from people is that they do not like the choreography of a Nia class "I just want to be free!" or "I feel awkward and I don't get it". I usually smile and nod and say something like "Nia isn't for everyone". What I really want to say is the purpose of this blog - which cannot be contained into a quick exchange of words... or perhaps it can...we'll see after I get rid of the words in my head :) 

What I want to say is that choreography actually gives you more freedom to move!  There are two things that need to be embraced though - one is accepting the discipline of choreography and two, is to not take yourself too seriously! Let me explain.

When we accept the invitation of choreography we are inviting ourselves to move in ways that we may not have considered before.  

When we move in new ways, we open new pathways in our brain that can ignite a fire of discovery within us. This leads us to move out of habit - we might find a way of moving that is in fact more pleasurable than how we were moving before. But we never knew, because we haven't given ourselves the opportunity to move in a different way. We might find that our habitual movement - though comfortable - is in fact RESTRICTIVE.  It causes us to move in the same way, which can lead to overuse of muscles leading to tightness and pain. From this point of view, where is the freedom in habitual movement? Often, in habit, we are unaware. The awareness of sensation and movement - one of the easiest ways to be in the "now" and the key to freedom- is hidden beneath the habit.

So what is the hang up on choreography?  Unfortunately we have come to be creatures that associate their success in life by being able to "do it right".  I think this is one of the major blocks of people who do not "like" choreography.

When we decide that choreography is too restrictive, we might be struggling with our own ego.

Is there a voice in there that says "I'm going to look stupid if I can't do it?".  We forget what it was like to be a child.  When we were a kid, we had no inhibitions about getting it wrong. Thank goodness for that - imagine if we'd been too scared to try walking, because we kept falling over for a few months! Imagine how much more restricted we would have been if we had just given in to our ego, by comparing ourselves to the other kids who had already learnt to walk. "Oh Jonny was always going to walk, he's just made that way! Where as me, well, I just don't have the co-ordination. I keep falling over. That's proof enough!"

Okay enough of the satire.  But honestly. Why do we put restrictions on the capabilities of our body? Why do we compare ourselves to others and worry about what others think? If we can move past the ego and we let ourselves make mistakes and learn from them (rather than shying away), one day it just clicks! Yes, even the teachers get it wrong. You do realise that we spend hours training and practicing to present to you that polished Nia class don't you?  We trip up over ourselves, scratch our heads and we get it wrong! But we keep going, until it makes sense. And this process is true for everybody. At some point you will get it! And the fun thing is, the more you challenge yourself and the more mistakes you make, the quicker you will learn! 

If you're still struggling with this concept, I invite you to change your attitude towards choreography. Use choreography to enhance your learning and become more aware. Notice, where does it get hard, which part doesn't flow, what feels yucky, what feels good? The more we become aware, the more we are able to change. The more we choose to change, the more adaptable we become. And

the more adaptable we become, the more we can find freedom in any circumstance.

So don't give up on the choreography.  Stick with it. Move past the frustration and be amused.  Become curious. Be fascinated with solving the puzzle of communication between your head, your sensations and your body. Celebrate the small progress.  Don't give up.  And one!  And when that happens - you have just opened the door to move your body in new and exciting ways. You've given yourself so many more options of how you can express yourself through movement. You have opened yourself up to find freedom within the move and beyond your habits. 

I love this quote from Martha Graham:

"Freedom to a dancer means discipline. That is what technique is for - liberation."

Choreography - the technique - is your key to becoming more liberated in your dance.  It is not there to trick you. It's not there to make you feel stupid. It's not there to judge you and give you grades of pass or fail (must I point out who that person is who's doing that to you?). 

Take choreography for what it is - a chance to be an explorer of movement, a chance to broaden your (movement) horizons, a chance to learn and to move in new ways so you can truly be free!