This week’s Dance First Member Insight is from Bay Area-based Alexis Mulhauser, Nia Technique, Self-Breema, and Yin Yoga facilitator and founder of Nourish the Essence.

“Learning to Teach; Teaching to Learn”

Bringing expression to the dancefloor during COVID.

It never occurred to me a year and a half ago that I would find myself writing an article on my experience teaching people to move, dance, and experience connection through Zoom. This sudden change in my outer life catapulted me into a deeper exploration of movement, dance, and self-connection. Over the last year of the pandemic, I have found great support and benefit from saying yes to the experience of being connected within myself – and with sharing that with others through teaching Nia and Self-Breema online classes.

Initially, the struggle I felt came from missing the in-person connection with the local community of students. There was always a warm atmosphere with everybody greeting each other and continuing their connections off the dancefloor after class. Now, that was gone.

Trying to transition online made it clear that I knew very little about technology and computers, which left me feeling overwhelmed and anxious. To overcome that limitation, I decided to study and learn everything I needed to know to continue to greet my students and handle the technical twists and turns of teaching online. As I continued to find my way through this new territory of the tech world, it felt like learning a whole new way of moving my body – much like the first time I stepped into a Nia class. I remember feeling a bit strange when the teacher invited us to sound and make silly faces, and imagine ourselves dancing in nature. But as I relaxed more and more in my body, this effort became effortless. My body’s own creative expression was able to fully come alive and be shared. And, after some years of practice, I saw how trusting in the innate abilities of the body and mind working together could actually lead me to a place of deeper connection with myself. Form and freedom are an integral part of the work I share. Little by little, this has taken on a new meaning for me. I keep experiencing more ease with all the buttons and clicks on the computer, just like in free dance. I’m finding I can let my whole body log on – not just my mind!

Learning how to set up lights, cameras, microphones, mixers, website schedules, and zoom links has become the next wave of “dance moves” that I have learned over the last year. These tools are now an extension of the choreography I study and practice in my body. And through simple things like taking a breath before I log on and engage with the screen, I can stay connected and support my own health and well-being.

In addition to bringing new skills to my life, I have also met new people who live far away – and have connected with them through the magic of Zoom. It’s been a joy to see the before and after faces of people as we meet in “gallery view” and have some social time like we used to in person. I’m grateful that amidst all the changes in the world this last year, one thing remains constant: my wish to keep dancing and share what brings more joy into my life. Teaching online has given me new possibilities for connection with myself and with others.

I hope you will consider coming to an online class with me. And if you happen to be in the Bay Area, I hope we can meet on the dance floor in person, too!