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Airborne Kansas.-.Point.of.Know.Return

As a kid, whenever I got a new album (yes, one of those big, black plastic things), I would put it on my parents’ record player, turn it up, and lie on the living room rug to read every lyric and every liner note on the album cover. Double-extra-bonus excitement if there was stuff on the dust sleeve or – be still my heart – and extra booklet!  I loved knowing every single word and even better, the story behind the music.

So after a week of playing with the Airborne routine, here are my liner notes.

Dance on. Shine on.
Susan

Airborne ~ Liner Notes

Big Sky – 4:04 – Annie Lennox

Annie Lennox’s voice is like power and tenderness wrapped in a passionate package. All the lyrics of this song are beautiful and evocative, but in particular:
I slipped through
The vortex of the sky
Darkness and light
Is what’s inside

Listen for my favorite part — her “woo” as if she is catching her breath.

Down To Earth – 5:59 – Peter Gabriel

As some of you know (since I mention it pretty much every time I use his music in class), I’m a big Peter Gabriel fan and he is my pretend boyfriend (of which I have several – turns out I’m a pretend shameless hussy). I have loved this song since I heard it in the movie Wall-E. I’ve been looking for a way to use it in Nia for a while and this feels like the right fit. With its theme of environmentalism and grounded, waltzing beat, it’s a song that reminds me of the preciousness of life on the planet:
We’re coming down
Comin’ down to earth
Like babies at birth
Comin’ down to earth
Redefine your priorities
These are extraordinary qualities

The Fire From Within – 4:12 – Tryptamoon

This song’s waves of giggles and reminders to breathe (in French and English) combines with waves of sound to ride and play on.

Water Down the Ganges – 7:10 – Prem Joshua & Manish Vyas

The simple yet rich and layered patterns in this meditative, Eastern-influenced music invite variations on simple movement themes.

Freedom – 2:50 – Tyrone Wells

I first heard this song when I ran into Kroger to pick something up one morning. It stopped me in the aisle and I scribbled the lyrics that I could catch on my grocery list. I tracked down the song as soon as I got home and had it choreographed by lunch.

Nothing But The Water (II) – 5:19 – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

A friend turned me on to the passionate music of Grace Potter a couple of years ago. I love this song’s rocking spiritual feel and have done my best to reflect it in the choreography with swinging movements through the three planes…plus some rock solid balancing.

I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) – 3:52 – Michael Franti

Ultimately, the practice of Nia is about aliveness. Michael Franti’s whistling, “whoa” song celebrates life in all its complexity. This song is a joy-fest as far as I’m concerned. And if you haven’t seen the fan mashup video, well sit yourself down and enjoy…and be sure to watch it to the very, very end.

Sunchyme – 3:54 – Dario G.

Dario G was an English dance and trance group in the late 90s and this song is based on a sample from The Dream Academy’s Life in a Northern Town. I can’t resist music that makes me want to dance and sing!

Breathe – 4:17 – Telepopmusik

This song is full of delicious sounds from the slightly muffled, scratchy-phonograph vocal to the rhythmic snip-snaps to the bouncy, electric bubbles. Perfect for playing with the meditation of music and movement. And, hey!, the lyrics are right in line with the focus:
Another day
But there’s nothing to do but believe
Just believe
Just breathe

Dust in the Wind – 3:30 – Daughter Darling

In 1977 I was in 8th grade and my English teacher used the lyrics of Kansas’ Dust in the Wind to illustrate poetry of mortality and the inevitability of death. I was already a lyric lover (as mentioned above), but having a teacher recognize the poetry in the music I listened to, as well as the realization of the weightiness of the song stuck with me. Twenty-five years later, Daughter Darling covered my beloved junior high ballad beautifully. The wistful but urgent vocals and the melancholy strings feel like wind.

Feel It All – Band Jam – 3:50 – KT Tunstall

There are so many things I love about this song from KT Tunstall’s latest album. The imagery of nature — seeds and rain, branches and snow, birds and eagles – align with the elemental focus of the routine. This is the “band jam” version of the song which reminds me that even though Tunstall makes great music when she’s alone with her looping machine, there is richness when music is made together. But most importantly, the chorus reflects one of the foundations of mindful practice: we are here to feel it all.

Child Come Home – 3:29 – Jamie Catto

Jamie Catto is my hero and mentor. On the front edge of my sabbatical last year, Jamie talked me down from the ledge and invited me to explore new ways of making art in the world. This song is an unpublished — one that he sent me after our conversation. I am grateful to him for the personal connection he made with me and for the art he offers us all.

Jai Radha Madhav – 6:27 – Deva Premal

Deva Premal’s beautiful version of the Jai Radha Madhav mantra transcends language. Even if we don’t understand the Sanskrit she sings, we understand the message: love is space.

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easy 7 easy buttonI’ve noticed this week how often I hear (from myself and others) the words “easy” and “hard.” The more I think about it, the more meaningless those words feel. It’s all relative.

Focusing instead on what is the the edge between challenge and healing, on the other hand, offers a rich practice that can be applied to any activity or situation. That’s where I want to dance.

We did a soft launch of my new routine, Airborne, this week. Allowing the new music and movements be a playground for the challenge/healing balance. Next week, we’ll dive full-on into the new routine and see what else there is to play with!  Below is the playlist ~ more on it next week.

Part of what makes our mindful movement practice powerful is how it spills out of the studio and supports us in our lives. This week, two Nia Stories about just that: one from Pat Taylor on how her Nia practice informs her study to become a massage therapist and one from Madeline Holly-Sales about how Nia affects her musical performance. Thanks to them both for sharing part of their practice. It is a gift to us all.  Enjoy their stories, be inspired, and by all means, share your own (email it to me at sjmnia@gmail.com)!

Dance on. Shine on.
Xo
Susan

Challenge & Healing ~ Monday, October 14, 2013, 1045am
Challenge & Healing ~ Tuesday, October 15, 2013, 9am
Challenge & Healing ~ Wednesday, October 16, 2013, 1055am
Challenge & Healing ~ Thursday, October 17, 2013, 9am

Big Sky – 4:04 – Annie Lennox
Down To Earth – 5:59 – Peter Gabriel
The Fire From Within – 4:12 – Tryptamoon
Water Down the Ganges – 7:10 – Prem Joshua
Freedom – 2:50 – Tyrone Wells
Nothing But The Water (II) – 5:19 – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) – 3:52 – Michael Franti
Sunchyme – 3:54 – Dario G.
Breathe – 4:17 – Telepopmusik
Dust in the Wind – 3:30 – Daughter Darling
Feel It All – Band Jam – 3:50 – KT Tunstall
Child Come Home – 3:29 – Jamie Catto
Jai Radha Madhav – 6:27 – Deva Premal

why art the earth without artIt feels like fall blew into town this week. As we head into the holidays and winter, I look forward to the adventure of living life as an artist! In the coming months, we will be exploring the intersection between Nia and Living Life As An Artist (fondly called LLAAA! ~ like singing!) in a variety of ways and from a variety of perspectives. Why live life this way? What is the purpose? And how do we do it?

This week, we focused on paying attention and going below the surface to really notice what is happening within us and around us. As inspiration, we used Mary Oliver’s poem:

Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

If you are, like me, a fan of Mary Oliver, there was a New York Times article on her and her new book (about dogs!) this week.

This week I also invited people to pay attention, be astonished and then tell us about it … and a few people did:

A photograph from Jennifer Myer of something that astonished her:

why art Jennifer Myer photo

And a picture of me, astonished by my autumn hair:

astonished by hair 101113 011

And a poem from the Nia Charlottesville Poet Laureate:

While dancing daisies sway with grace and ease
my breathless limbs dangle helplessly.
A floating chicken, I’ve been hypnotized.
Sore legs become astonishly paralyzed.
Purple is not the color I imagined my anxiety to be.
Yet as I glance around, it surrounds me.
I try to swim through its richness
but I drown in its depth.
Spontaneous laughter carries me to shore.
Pick up your feet.
Move.
Don’t float away.
Accomplish something.
And I can’t help but wander.
I wonder if this is what you’ll say?
Dipp-ity-do, I am something.
I’m no longer a mute.
I’m a car, jacking it up, to the rock-n-roll flute.
I bet you never thought strange and unusual could be so fluid, so new.
I realize now, how hard it must have been for you,
but I also now know with certainty
the lie, that lie, deep within your true.
It. Is. Easy. To. Love.
I forgive you, and let you go.
I am something.
I am an artist.
And that is something,
It’s time.
It’s time for you to know.

How astonishing is that? Please continue to share what astonishes you…we all benefit from your vision!

The world needs more artists to help us see more clearly and with fresh eyes. In the six months leading up to the Life As An Artist retreat ~ March 28-30, 2014 ~ Rebecca and I will offer creative play and exploration for you to flex your artist muscles! Registration for the retreat is in full swing now and you can get the lowest price by registering with a friend by January 2!

Here’s the music from the week.

Dance on. Shine on.
Xo
Susan

Why Art? ~ Monday, October 7, 2013, 1045am

Helpless 4:15 K.D. Lang
Kissing 6:05 Bliss
The Fire From Within 4:12 Tryptamoon
Water Down the Ganges 7:10 Prem Joshua
Nostalgia Worship 6:46 Bassnectar
Open Sesame (G’s Talking Drum Mix) 6:10 Crosstown Traffic
Shakin’ It Up 6:15 Ganga Girl
Magalenha 3:39 Sergio Mendes
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free 4:09 Derek Trucks Band
Slip Into Something More Comfortable 4:48 Kinobe
Once Upon The Sea Of Blissful Awareness 7:31 Shpongle

Why Art? ~ Tuesday, October 8, 2013, 9am

Healing Senses 8:27 Parijat
Mulatica Mia (Cuba Remix) 5:32 The Tao Of Groove
Palais Mascotte 5:47 Patrick Duvoisin
No Quiero Nada Mas 4:46 Sancti Spiritus
Water Down the Ganges 7:10 Prem Joshua
Keep On Searching 5:08 Kraak & Smaak
It’s Alright 3:28 Dar Williams
Up In Indiana 4:36 Lyle Lovett
Electrolodge 6:29 Trouble Makers
Kissing (Instrumental) 6:14 Bliss
Horizon 4:00 Garth Stevenson

Why Art? ~ Wednesday, October 9, 2013, 1055am

Altus Silva 6:07 Big Blue Ball featuring Joseph Arthur, Ronan Browne, Deep Forest, James McNally, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Vernon Reid
Whole Thing 5:27 Big Blue Ball featuring Francis Bebey, Alex Faku, Tim Finn, Peter Gabriel, Karl Wallinger, Andy White
Water Down the Ganges 7:10 Prem Joshua
Shadow 4:28 Big Blue Ball featuring Juan Cañizares, Papa Wemba
Exit Through You 5:52 Big Blue Ball featuring Joseph Arthur, Peter Gabriel, Karl Wallinger
Everything Comes From You 4:42 Big Blue Ball featuring Richard Evans, Joji Hirota, Sevara Nazarkhan, Sinéad O’Connor, Guo Yue
Burn You Up Burn You Down 4:31 Big Blue Ball featuring Billy Cobham, Peter Gabriel, The Holmes Brothers, Wendy Melvoin, Arona N’diaye, Jah Wobble Big Blue Ball 9.3 19
Khalgi Stomp (Thievery Corporation Mix) 3:55 Transglobal
Dust in the Wind 3:30 Daughter Darling
Rivers 5:45 Big Blue Ball featuring Vernon Reid, Márta Sebestyén, Karl Wallinger
Plegaria Para el Alma de Layla 3:20 Pedro Aznar

Why Art? ~ Thursday, October 10, 2013, 9am

Damascus 2:03 Conjure One Feat. Chemda
Center Of The Sun 5:01 Conjure One Feat. Poe
Tears From The Moon 4:18 Conjure One Feat. Sinéad O’ Connor
Smokey Quartz 6:59 Shakatura
Water Down the Ganges 7:10 Prem Joshua
Freedom 2:50 Tyrone Wells
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) 3:52 Michael Franti
Mothership 3:14 Kid Beyond
Instant Karma 3:14 U2
The Sound of Sunshine 3:44 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Electrolodge 6:29 Trouble Makers
All We Are 3:37 Matt Nathanson
Golden Slumbers/The End 4:16 K.D. Lang

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