Nia Class 2013

They arrive
all shapes, sizes,
skin color and ages
from all corners of the city,
suburbs too:
rich women,
poor women,
battered women,
women with sin,
women without,
scarves and coats are hung,
boots stored away
in little lockers.

They change
go barefoot
enter the studio,
recycled wood floors
polished with sweat
and many happy feet.
They take their places
smile at familiar faces,
observe the new.
The teacher emerges
from her cocoon,
clicks her heels,
cues the class,
focus on joy,
joy in the body,
the feet, the torso, the spine,
tonight we dine on the TSO,
the long awaited celebratory dance,
once a season, creation of Barb,
the Nia leader, the teacher,
the long reconstructed
monkey goddess from Wisconsin.  

(This is the land of contradictions.)

Mixed hearts take the floor,
we start and the music lifts us,
emotions take over, bliss,
the bliss of being
an old dancer,
no longer unsure,
no longer competing
but loving the body,
blessed knees that bend,
ankles that lift and
still releve on command,
and the strong, strong legs
that leap and split in unison
to the music,
to the heart’s content,
when the body wants
to sing with the piano,
the ompah of the drums,
the speed guitar.

Oh, I love this so,
the women, the dancers,
the men, the cross-dressers,
the sun shining on in the room.

I wait for this every year
I‘ve been in Milwaukee,
it is a gift, it is a pleasure,
it is part of my holiday season.
I give thanks to the creator of the dance
who shines now on our class,
because to move in this community
is to know and love the world,
and I feel it now as I twirl
and jump around the room
and sing Merry Christmas
to all the people I meet,
whether of the faith or not,
because it doesn’t matter
here in this room, this space,
here we are equal,
here we are sisters and brothers,
and this is winter.

Come summer
we will dance on the roof
with the seagulls and the moon
and the stars peeping out over the lake,
in summer we will bake;
now our bodies steam
with the cold air

Angie Trudell Vasquez