BY LILLIAN STRAUSS

The sceptic in me thought “blending nine movement forms into one system? I have not mastered one form, let alone nine.”

But I put myself into a receptive mode and let curiosity have its way. The music brought out the dancer in me instantaneously.

Susie Anne Bartsch, a NIA instructor, wove the different forms into the session. What are these forms? I recognized Modern Dance, Jazz Dance, Duncan Dance, Tae Kwon Do, Tai Chi, Aikido, Yoga, Moshe Feldenkrais and the Alexander Technique to boot. It all blends into a system of fun fusion fitness.

In the early 1980s, Carlos and Debbie Rosa developed NIA out of their successful aerobics studio. In Swahili, it translates into “with purpose”. Infused with “power, focus and intent”, NIA is a wholistic technique that taps into the innate intelligence and creativity of the body.

Bartsch invites each one of the participants to discover the joy of movement. It is definitely an alternative to the “no-pain-no-gain mentality” of robotic aerobic fitness programs that prevailed in the 1970s.

“This is great. No crunches, squats or Achilles pounding work-outs,” I thought as I cast inhibition to the wind. I can feel joy and become fit.

It is common knowledge that one of the best ways to unlock emotional blockages is to move. It is an affirmation of life and power.

Everyone in the group is in their own space bubble focusing on their own sensations as Bartsch guided us through a variety of forms.

The musical collage provided inspirational rhythms from African to New Age. We moved in all directions stepping forward, back, side to side, here a cha-cha-cha, there an Aiko kick or back stance.

“This is brain gym,” I thought as I got into a rhythmic groove.

I like how I could connect to the Earth with my legs and feet, staying centred and calm, at the same time explore the use of arms and upper body to let my spirit soar. When the body asked for a sound to unleash, I simply trusted it to emote.

Sound helps to move energy.

I could explore the use of upper body, arms and hands to create different qualities of movement. The Aikido brought out a meditative and centred movement; the Dance Forms brought out different styles, from sexy, sensual to sheer silly.

I found myself squawking and flapping like a chicken with great theatrical unabashed abandonment.

The Feldenkrais and Yoga moves ask for alignment; the Aikido asks for my inner power that is focused on strength and more yang qualities. They all blend into a seamless dance that supports a loving relationship with my body. It is the ultimate New Age work-out that connects with the sensations of the body rather than the imposition of a set of hard and fast rules imposed from an outside instructor. Bartsch merely guides us to explore and provides freedom to support the pleasure principle.

During cool-down, we have ample time to let the vibrational dust settle in our bodies and to harness healing energy.

More information is available from Bartsch at 456-4170.

PHOTO: LILLIAN STRAUSS