Good morning from Rome, Wales and San Antonio, Texas!
When choosing the music for the upcoming release of the new Nia routine CELL-ebrate, over a year and a half ago, I heard a double CD by James Asher called Drum Travel. In my first peruse of the music, many of the songs went into my ‘possibilities’ playlist. One song in particular, Hey Wanaina, was hauntingly beautiful, with a Native American woman singing in her language. It was drawing me in over and over, and yet I did not know what she was saying. I decided to write to Jame’s website and ask, knowing that we have to be careful with our universal language and not get into a bind with offensive language when choosing music for Nia routines.
I heard back from the ‘website’ that same day, and it was James himself! He wrote… “I have no idea what the words mean. I do find when combined with music, there is a language resulting, which transcends literal meaning. I invite you to enter a similar space where reaching beyond literal words, we achieve an attunement to the heart where we can leave such details way behind.” Best Wishes, James
I knew at that moment that the song was a go for me. It was also the beginning of a deep friendship across the ocean. I chose 4 songs from Drum Travel for CELL-ebrate, along with other artists, and began the process of getting the songs in line for licensing approval.
Jump ahead to last September…
While absorbing the magic of the Black Belt with Ann Christiansen and Debbie Rosas, and anticipating the filming of CELL-ebrate, I mentioned to Debbie about the correspondence with James, and my desire to use his words in the routine booklet. She encouraged me to write him for approval. I decided to take that step forward, and wrote him hours later. Within 15 minutes, I received a response, “Adelle, would you be so kind as to give me your cell phone? I would like to speak to you.” Best, James
I nervously gave him my number, not knowing how he was going to respond, and my phone rang a few minutes later. Standing in the bathroom in Portland, we had a 45 minutes conversation about Nia. Even though he knew we had licensed his music before, he knew nothing about what we teach. It was beyond my imagination, explaining Nia to someone who had never even seen a class. His intrigue with ‘katas’ and how they were choreographed to his music was encouraging… and he asked if we could Skype when I returned home to ‘show him the katas!’ Over the next month, he called several times a week, as we planned our Skype meeting, asking more and more questions about Nia.
In anticipation of meeting visually, he mentioned a dear friend who he wanted me to meet, Arthur Hull. Not knowing who he was at the time, I looked him up and discovered that Arthur had written many books, and had the distinction of bringing the ‘drum circle’ to many cultures and countries, especially the US. He had been training people all over the world to facilitate drum circles, bringing people together with the power of music and rhythm. We planned our virtual rendezvous, and I was ecstatic!
James turned out to be a very quiet, introspective Englishman, and Arthur a boisterous hysterical American. Our skype meeting was lengthy, informative and FUN! Many stories later, Arthur revealed that he was one of Gabrielle Roth’s original drummers at Esalen, when she was creating the 5Rhythms. He had never heard of Nia!
I spontaneously decided to film CELL-ebrate the next morning, with me dancing in the studio, and send it to them to ‘see’ how the magic of music inspired the movement katas. I sent them the visual choreographed 8BC’s, for them to see the patterns and how we map the music + choreography. They received it, and stayed up all night drinking wine, and discussing the intricacies of the music + choreography map.
Arthur emailed me the next morning, saying that they were very inspired. He and James were off and running… creating the beginning of some music pieces.
I received 4 songs a few months later, with explanations of how they began, what inspired them, and the other artists that contributed to the creation. The email James wrote me immediately brought tears of gratitude… for the connection across the oceans. The connection of Nia Movement with Music. The alchemy of Magical connective tissue! M, M, M indeed!
Jumping many months, I found myself in late April in Wales, preparing to teach CELL-ebrate with James Asher accompanying me on drums. He arrived with CD’s in hand, one he created called AdelleSphere, some of his favorite songs!
The following weekend Joanie Brooks and I taught a Nia FreeDance weekend experience, spreading more Nia magic out into the world. We had one person participating who lives in England. She had her first Nia experience with me at The Synergy Studio in San Antonio. It was at a Transformational Breath® Training where I offered Nia every morning, cueing only with breath. She was thrilled to connect again!
This is connection.
This is community.
This is love.
This is the connective tissue of healing.
James Asher (unbeknownst to me) not only stayed for the entire Nia FreeDance weekend, but he accompanied Joanie and me when teaching both public classes, as well as the somatic exercises that included music. It was amazing to see an artist in RAW, picking up rhythms and syncopation, subtleties and expressions, even to songs that he had not heard before. It was truly magical!
James stayed with us at Fiona’s house, so the connection through many conversations, walks, silence + sound continued.
In addition to the connection with James, the woman who first found Nia when she attended a Transformational Breath® training at The Synergy Studio in San Antonio, brought two friends who had never even taken a Nia class. One was magically transformed, and her words of wisdom and reflection in beginner’s mind were profound.
The other participant and her experience are beyond words to describe. She had been in a terrible accident that left one side of her body in disarray, including her eye on that side. With encouragement from Joanie, me and others, she danced Nia for the first time… with shoes, standing and moving in her way, as well as dancing in a chair. When it came time for her to have a chance to teach, on the 2nd day, she jumped right in and gave the focus, intent and explanation of Nia FreeDance to the entire group, as the leader.
WOW is all I can say!
Tears of gratitude for this amazing practice that we all love so dearly, and for each of you who are making a difference one person, one body, one soul, one heart at a time.
Sending love from Rome, Wales, and San Antonio, Texas!
PS. Joanie and I have shared many pics and short videos on FB. They are fun and tell a visual story.