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Meet Debra Vodhanel, Artist and Nia Dancer

Debra Vodhanel in her Los Angeles studio

Debra Vodhanel, 68, lives in the Mount Washington area of Los Angeles and has been using Nia barefoot dance fitness for grief recovery. Debbie was athletic in her youth, dancing and running marathons in college, and learned to paint in France. Then life took her in other directions (marriage, family, work) and she left the arts behind. She protested the Vietnam war in the 60s, married a fellow protester, and raised two children with him.
 
The last couple of years have brought enormous losses. Debbie lost her husband, her job, and almost her home. “Grieving is serious stuff,” she says. “I’ve never been so challenged in my life.” She also lost her fitness. As recently as a couple months ago, she was unable to walk 10 minutes without leg pain.
 
Now, two years into widowhood, Debbie is building a new identity for herself centered on painting and movement. Using watercolors and oil and cold wax, she paints colorful abstracts that tell a story. She has shown locally and is working towards selling her art online.

Movement-wise, Debbie takes at least six online classes a week: two Feldenkrais and four Nia. Nia is a one-hour holistic workout combining dance, martial arts and self-healing (3-minute video).
 
Thanks to frequent Nia and Feldenkrais, Debbie’s legs are now pain-free and she can walk as long as she likes. Nia is also giving her confidence and a more positive outlook. “I used to kind of dread doing things, but now, after Nia class, I want to do things.”
 
See Debra’s paintings here, and dance with her in any of my online classes!

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