August 27th, 2020 / posted by paularath

 

There’s something within us that makes us want to dance. It’s an inherent need in many, many women. And far more than a few men.

To dance is to give the body an opportunity to create its own poetry.

This desire, this passion, this need, doesn’t disappear with age. Despite injuries, arthritis, increasing stiffness and loss of balance, our bodies still yearn to dance. So why not let them?

For many years I danced hula with kumu hula Cathy Ostrem. I loved hula and Cathy was the perfect kumu for me, but then shoulder and knee surgeries, and finally a broken neck, rendered hula an improbable activity for my body.

I needed to find a way for dance to be part of my life, without causing further injury.

Of course dance can mean simply moving to the music on your phone or your radio. It’s about dancing through your home without anyone to see or judge you. It’s about releasing whatever emotions you’ve been holding in. It’s about allowing yourself to get comfortable in your own skin on your own terms.

I’ve done my fair share of that kind of dancing, alone and unfettered, especially since Honolulu has been under quarantine and lock down.

Photo courtesy NiaNow

But I also found a way to dance with a group of like-minded people. I discovered Nia dance when I wrote a story about the first Nia class in Honolulu, held at the Honolulu Club. It was love at first step. Nia is all about being good to your body and not doing anything to hurt it. The choreography and music are inspired and inspiring. Nia choreography incorporates Duncan Dance, Alexander Technique, yoga, martial arts and tai chi. And it’s not about dancing in lock step with your teacher or following every step in the routine. It’s about finding your own body’s way.

Nia classes are all suspended right now because of COVID-19, but when things settle down to a “new normal,” they will likely resume at the Honolulu Club, Pacific Club and Still & Moving Center. I am fortunate that, as a white belt student in Nia, I obtained quite a few Nia routines on DVDs. What a godsend they are during quarantine! All I need is a yoga mat in front of my TV and I have a ready made Nia class in my home. I dance whenever the mood strikes.

Nia is a wonderful way to work out, and leaves me feeling mentally, emotionally and physically alive and like all is right with the world. Learn more at www.nianow.com

Edgar Degas, The Dance Lesson   Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dancing duo doesn’t have to mean formal ballroom dancing, especially if your partner isn’t into it. When Jerry and I were first going together, I encouraged him to go to Arthur Murray with me. It wasn’t a disaster, and it didn’t cause a breakup, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience either.

As a result, we didn’t dance together for quite a few years. But once we started taking cruises and had access to a dance floor and live band every night, we got it right: just dance! Ignore all the rules and the formal steps and start moving. I had to let go of some expectations, and that allowed for freedom. We can dance together! We both love to move, especially if there’s a dinner (or a few cocktails) to work off. Who cares if there are couples who know all the steps and go whisking past us? Honestly, it’s Jerry and Paula who were most appreciated by the band and often got applause from the patrons. They simply love it when the music inspires romance. And that’s what dance does for us now.

Photo courtesy LA Dance Project

If you are feeling a need to bring dance into your life, I just discovered a new app that offers dance classes, premiers of new works, interviews with dance luminaries such as Misty Copeland and Mikhail Baryshnikov, and lots more. You can have a free trial for a week and see if it resonates with you. It’s by the Los Angeles Dance Project and you can find it at now.ladanceproject.org

Dance will always have a place in my life, now and for as long as I can move.

Paula Rath

What are they saying?
Leave a comment below.
Suzanna Kuhlemann
September 2nd, 2020 at 10:32 am

I hadn´t heard of Nia yet, but tried out a short 5 minute clip in the morning and noticed it somehow had a subtle, however noticeable positive effect on me!
Loved the natural lightness of the moves and combinations, my body appreciated it, thanks for posting this, Paula!
Big hug from Germany

paularath
September 17th, 2020 at 1:29 am

Aloha nui from Honolulu, Suzanna! I am so happy that you enjoyed Nia! One of my favorite teachers and choreographers of Nia, Ann Christiansen, is from Germany – can’t remember if it’s Berlin or Hamburg – and she has online classes going on now.
Is it possible to online order any 1-9-7-9 swimsuits now? My swimsuit drawer is boring and pathetic!

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