Expressive Dance for Actors: The Nia Technique

If you are an actor with little or no dance training, The Nia Technique™ may be the perfect exercise class for you. It gives you a great cardiovascular workout and improves your overall fitness, while actually developing your instrument as an actor.

Nia is a sensory practice combining dance, martial arts and the healing arts in a captivating movement experience focused on sensation, not performance. Nia asks, how does this movement feel in your body?

Nia classes are one hour long and consist of roughly 85% easy choreography and 15% “freedance,” when participants move however they want. The music is beautiful and inspiring, licensed from unknown artists.

Nia choreography is low-impact and safe for all bodies – and it lets you express the full range of emotions. In fact, emotional expression is encouraged. It’s safe to be weird or vulnerable in Nia.

Nia increases mindfulness and sense memory skills. Nia teaches you to sense your body and be conscious of your movements – very good for the actor’s instrument. Sensing your body in detail helps you remember your real life emotions and call them up when needed.

Nia helps you develop characters. The moves are the moves, but Nia encourages you to do the moves your way, or any way, at your discretion. You can therefore use Nia to explore the physicality of a character through breath, movement and sound.

Nia expands your expressive range. Nia invites you to move in unfamiliar ways, which expands your physical range of motion, a good thing in itself for playing a wider range of characters. Moreover, any movement in Nia can be imbued with any emotion. You can use Nia to practice expressing emotions that are hard for you, or that are appropriate for your character.

Nia makes you a better mover. Nia lets you build movement skill without taking on the perfectionism of dance culture. Nia improves your balance, coordination, and ability to learn movement sequences. It also increases your understanding of musical phrasing and the music-movement relationship. Even a totally non-dancing actor will become a better mover with Nia.

Nia lets you play with form and freedom. The choreography in Nia is analagous to the script of a play or movie: you have to follow the script (form), but make your own choices within it (freedom). Nia is the same way. The moves are the moves (form), but you make your own choices and can even establish your own personal focus or through-line for the hour (freedom). Form and freedom are central to Nia.

Nia Technique™ may as well have been designed with actors in mind. Give yourself a chance to experience this inspiring movement practice.

In metro Los Angeles, Nia classes can be found in Studio City, Encino and Eagle Rock.

Nia classes around the world can be found on click “Find Nia” to find a class near you!

4 Comments on “Expressive Dance for Actors: The Nia Technique

Wonderful !!
I would like to stay in contact with you
I am a Nia Teacher in Rome Italy
I am working with Actors integrating mucing Nua and Strassberg Method. It works great!


Grazie, Antonella! Feel free to email or PM me anytime. I will let you know if I ever plan to visit Rome (it’s possible) because I would love to guest teach or co-teach in your community. And you please let me know if you ever plan to visit Los Angeles. Ciao!


This is awesome. My movement for actors class at UCF when I was getting my degree in theater was my favorite class. When I took my first Nia classes many of the movements reminded me of that class. Nia is definitely a brilliant and underutilized technique for developing the skills of actors!! Kudus! Wish I could attend. Currently living in South Korea.


Thank you Kat for taking the time to read! I also studied theater in college (for my junior year) and the movement for actors class was my favorite as well. I’ve been trying to reconnect with my teacher from that class, to tell him what an impact it made on me. I had no idea at the time that one day I would no longer be acting at all, but movement would be my THING! Waving to you across the Pacific.


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