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Nia has a very special place in my heart. The energy among Nia-lovers heals and enriches the heart and spirit. Once you connect, there's no going back. Mind-Body-Dance-Fitness for Personal Enrichment is the way! - Nadine Aldred, Orlando, FL

Ageless and Strong with Nia – 74 Year–Old Nia Teacher Dances Through Life

Kaycheri Rappaport

Nia Black Belt Teacher | Portland, Oregon, United States

"Teaching gave me a new and deeper level of experiencing the benefits Nia has to offer. I have become stronger and healthier in body, mind and spirit from teaching."

I was 58 years old and about 20 pounds overweight when I took my first Nia class in 1991. I was certain that I would be the oldest and fattest person in the class, and I wasn’t! The class was full of all ages and types of people – young, old, fit, becoming fit–and I was made to feel completely welcome, like I belonged there. I left that first class feeling exhilarated and inspired to come back for more. From the spark ignited in that first class, Nia became a great part of my life, and I eventually became a Nia teacher at age 71. I will be celebrating my 75th birthday in January 2008, and I may be the oldest Nia teacher practicing and teaching, which is a great testament to the power of Nia for people of all ages.

I’ve been an actress and dancer since I was a child. When I discovered Nia, I was acting and going on tours, sometimes for six weeks. As soon as I’d get home from a tour, I’d go downtown for my Nia class “fix”. The more I danced Nia, the more I noticed that little aches and pains disappeared. I even lost weight and toned up. Mostly it was fun. I enjoyed the playfulness, the exploration, and the invitation to find my own expression.

Then, in January of 2004, when I was turning 71 I took the White Belt Intensive. For some time my friends at Nia had been telling me that I would love the White Belt, and Debbie and Carlos assured me I’d be able to handle it in spite of my advanced years. I took the plunge. What an extraordinary experience it was, putting much of what I’d learned in a new context – bringing it all together – and adding new information.

In the White Belt I began my journey into a deeper understanding of music, a deeper understanding of how and why Nia taps into Joy. It was so beautiful for me to connect with the other White Belt students, who accepted me fully, even though I was eldest in the group.
Before I went into the White Belt Intensive I had no intention of teaching Nia. Yet, during our last exercise of the White Belt, as we were Free-Dancing (letting the music and our bodies guide us) I felt an intuitive hit to be a Nia Teacher. I’ve learned to trust moments like this. I had been teaching one thing or another most of my life, so why not teach Nia?

I started teaching shortly after receiving the White Belt. Teaching gave me a new and deeper level of experiencing the benefits Nia has to offer. I have become stronger and healthier in body, mind and spirit from teaching. Just recently, a student remarked that I seem so calm despite situations that could be quite upsetting. I attribute this to the centering and balancing techniques I practice. I have become a better dancer, yogi and listener of music through my Nia practice.

I teach people of all ages. My “seniors” – aged 55 and up–relate to me as a contemporary who is an example of their possibility. It is most gratifying to see them overcome difficulties in balance, heal stiffness in joints and other age related conditions. They love the non-competitive atmosphere and the invitation to choose their own level of activity. Some of my students are quite lonely, having lost their spouses, and take Nia classes for the community spirit. In fact, one of my classes has instituted a practice of going to the coffee/tea room after class to share snacks and conversation.

The classes I teach at a community college are equally exciting. Younger people tell me I inspire them; they want to be just like me when they get to be my age. One of the requirements of the community college Nia course is to keep a journal of their Nia experience. From those journals, I could put together a book of the miracles that have occurred through people dancing Nia.

I’ve gone on to take other Nia intensives: Blue Belt, Brown Belt and two FABs (For All Belts). Each intensive has been healing, energizing, informative, and transformational. I will continue to study as long as I can. Somehow, I seem to be getting stronger and younger instead of older and weaker. Does Nia have anything to do with this? Yes!

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