This evening I shared my latest Nia Creation, “Look UP”, with the new Lauren Daigle “look up child” album.
When choreographing a Nia experience (whenever possible) I like to keep the integrity of how the artist has created the album, and this includes the order in which they choose to place the songs. With the Look Up Child Album, I managed to honor the order, with the exception of one song,“This girl”.
Funny how, out of all the songs, this song is the one who ended up relocating, with a chorus repeating “This Girl ain’t going anywhere!”. “This Girl” has some lovely quirky patterns (we call fractions in Nia), these irregular groups of beats bring in a little unpredictability (a challenge to provide reliable, and the song also ends with a long “outro”. Originally “This Girl” was placed as the third song, which in most Nia experiences is where we want to be building the architecture of the experience from Cycle 3, Warm Up into Cycle 4, Get Moving. These are the factors that influenced my decision to move the song to Cycle 5 (Cool Down) shifting into Cycle 6 (Floor Play) where it fits beautifully - I wonder what Lauren Daigle would think of the shift?
The first time I played with this music, in a public class, was the last time I was in Budapest (back in October/November 2018).
I pulled off a “blue monkey play class”. This is where I show up with music I have not prepared or choreographed at all. The experience is similar to a “live Improv” where I am improvising choreography on the fly, teaching and guiding the class from intuition (and the seat of my pants!) with the option to be able to call out FREEDANCE any time I completely loose it.
These kinds of classes can be “hit of miss”, I encourage participants to laugh with or at me and either way have a grand time.
Participants seem to enjoy being part of the creative process, find pleasure witnessing me teach from such a RAW place and I think most of the class thoroughly enjoy when I get lost, can’t figure something out and in general don’t have it together!
Keeping the promise to provide the class again, (in a more planned and choreographed manner the next time I returned) tonight was the night!
We had a magical experience, so much so we are returning tonight to dance again. This time we’ll video the class, in the hope we can share with Lauren Daigle what folks around the world are doing with her music.
I wonder how Lauren will feel when she sees all these wonderful ladies in Budapest dancing their body, mind, heart and soul to her music?
Please enjoy the play list, as you’ll see I’ve added several Eva Casidy songs at the end. I recently saw a tweet where Lauren Daigle shared about doing a cover of a song “Don’t Dream It’s Over” even though the original was by the Wallflowers, I checked out and then immediately fell in love with the Diana Krall version of the song, when I noted she has a similar quality to Lauren I went ahead and added this to the playlist. I then had the thought “what about - following that with “over the rainbow”. On the search, amongst many artists I fell in love with the Eva Cassidy version, that took me down the rabbit hole of revisiting many of Eva’s amazing songs. When I was spoilt for choice with options I gave up with the time I had a dragged my top 6 Eva Cassidy songs into the mix.
I now have a playlist of 20 songs, an hour and 20 minute of music and great choices for the end of class.
The other week I was teaching in a very NON Christian environment and, although Lauren is a Christian artist, I deem most of her songs to be appropriate for any religion, however the last song is an old hymm, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus”. With the hymn and the lyrics there is no escaping Jesus! Wanting to honor the spectrum of beliefs in the room I chose to pull the Jesus song out (unchecked it) and replace with “Songbird" and “Over the Rainbow” by Eva Cassidy. Great news there is, the original Lauren Daigle Album is 52 minutes, and “turn your eyes upon Jesus” is a long song at 6:30. The 2 replacement songs are 3:44 and 4:27 = 8:11 minutes, bringing the grand class total closer to 54 minutes which is a very satisfactory (if not better) length for a class experience.
This evening was more of a special event, I wanted to extend the class closer to a full hour experience of music, I therefore choose to add “Fields of Gold” 4:42. Then, with the music experience weighing in at 59 minutes, we had a lovely extended floor play section where I was able the luxury of giving a whole song to corse pose (complete resting pose in a laying down posture). The lights were turned out, every body rested for the entire song, and then the step out (Cycle 7) was the entire song “Over the Rainbow”, where we rose from the floor, returned to the 4 moudras of “Earth, Heart, Pray, Joy” before physical stepping out with grand applause.
Next time I teach this experience I want to bring in the Diana Krall song “Don’t Dream it’s Over” before “Over the Rainbow” so I’ll probably take out Fields of Gold and Songbird.
This final “fine tuning”, where I twiddle with different options (most often the end songs) will land one of 3 ways
I’ll simply one day find an order that “clicked” beautifully and I’ll declare “that’s it!”
I’ll have a certain playlist clicked, every time I return to teach the routine I’ll make the same decision. After quite extensive period of time I’ll realize “Hmmm!! I always choose the same, I guess this is it”
I’ll keep on playing with options from the selection and conclude that is how it’s meant to be
Well this post was rather “Nia geeky”, if you’ve made it this far I hope the sharing of my process has helped inspire you. In conclusion I hope you see and sense the “loose but tight” nature of the process. There’s lots of playful mucking about, balanced with a clear focus and intent. Allowing creativity in natural time while aligning with Nia technology (like the 7 cycles, the body’s way and the 52 moves) One of the elements I enjoy is to not push anything to come together, even though, every time I deliver the routine, I have an intent to get closer and tighten up the details. This process makes for delicious creative tension.
Foot note: most of my “clicks” and creativity don’t happen when in class NOR when I’m formally practicing at home. Instead it’s the moments i’m playing after class, literally playing the music while I drive, run, shower or bath! I’ll lightly come back to slight remembering of what I taught in the song I’m listening to, very dream like, and then the image of choreography or reveal of a detail in the pattern of the music POPs! I get excited, it feels like a moment of genius/brilliance, very much like I Helen didn’t think it up, instead it literally feels like a gift of brilliance from God.I giggle, replay the concept in my mind a few times then invite it to come with me the next time I class. When I remember (or the click pops in unannounced like someone saying “HI!”) and integrate the new click, it works, then it sticks and becomes “part of the family” - my phrase for when another element of choreography slots into the structure and architecture of the routine.