A little while ago when I was feeling homesick, I talked to you about not having as many opportunities for classes or activities on the island as I would back home in the US. This month, I had an experience that made realize that having 100 options is not the same as finding that one unique treasure…which has the same possibility of existing among the hundreds back at home than it does hidden away, nestled in the sand on a faraway place called Reunion Island.
This particular little treasure I’m talking about is a dance class called NIA in Boucan. Of course NIA exists (and maybe even originated??) in the US, but what really makes this class different is the teacher. Veronique exudes passion and energy in a way that could uplift even the saddest person in the world.
This past weekend, Veronique was invited to give some dance courses during the Wellness Festival in Mauritius, and to prepare, she started taking English classes with me. For the past month, I entered her world of dance a few times a week.
I’m definitely not a dancer, but as a theater student I had to have the ability to learn simple dance sequences in a short period of time. So while I can grasp easier rhythm and steps quickly, I am missing that natural grace, beauty and flow that I so admire in real dancers. All of that vanishes when you dance with Veronique. I don’t know how it’s possible, but when you dance with her, you really feel as elegant and free as she looks. Her energy is contagious and soon you aren’t thinking about how silly you look, you’re thinking about how great it feels to stretch your body in ways you haven’t done since you were about 7. If I had to describe NIA to someone who hadn’t seen it before, I would say it is a dancer’s version of yoga, tai chi, and martial arts. Like swimming without water. Like meditation in movement.
I ended up going to the Wellness Festival in Mauritius and it was one of the coolest experiences of my life! We arrived Friday night and set up our tents under the stars. Saturday morning we started around 8 and every hour or so you had two or three classes to choose from; things like yoga, pilates, tai chi, singing, meditation, and of course, dance. There were tents set up where you could buy homemade vegetarian food and healthy drinks and desserts. There were tents offering massages, healing crystals, spiritual books, and everything else you could dream of in the wellness world. After lunch we bathed in the nearby waterfall, and at night we had live concerts by yogis playing instruments I never knew existed! Every second was a new breath of life.
Not surprisingly, Veronique’s dance classes were by far the most popular!! The first day, she guided about 60 people through a dance therapy class under the big tent. It was so powerful I get chills just thinking about it. I remember specifically this little stout old man dancing in the corner with this eyes closed, as if he had never moved his body so freely and was finally flying out of a cage that he had been in for maybe his whole life.
On Sunday, Veronique’s NIA class got a standing ovation, and people even asked her to move to Mauritius! It was truly a testament to her unique and beautiful gift.
If you’re like me, and you’re looking for a hobby here…something different, something worth your precious time and money, I think you should come meet Veronique and try out a NIA class. I think all of us could benefit a lot by learning to let go and dance.
homesick – nostalgique
to uplift – élever les sentiments
to grasp – comprendre
steps – pas
to look silly – avoir l’air ridicule
to stretch – tendre
set up – installé
to let go – se lâcher