Last July, I became one of the teachers at Studio NiaMoves leading Nia and hooping classes on a trial basis to teens from The Center for Success and Independence (TCSI) . The center offers adolescent trauma therapy and treatment for teen substance abuse and co-occuring mental health issues.
Happily, that initiative has blossomed from a trial into a full partnership with plans to continue providing classes to teenaged girls at the studio. Put another way, dance has become a regular part of therapy available to the center’s teen residents!
Dubbed “Dare to Dream, Dare to Dance,” the studio/center partnership means TCSI youth may enjoy classes at the studio 3 to 4 times per month. It’s yet another example of how Studio NiaMoves encourages people to tap into their inner wisdom, strength and resiliency.
As a teacher, I am proud the program has proven to be sustainable, and apparently so is TCSI co-founder and director Marylou Erbland.
“We’re excited the partnership will continue and see it as a good thing,” she said. “The physical and emotional effects of Nia and hooping compliment regular counseling sessions for the girls in our care and benefit their overall recovery.”
That’s not all. Erbland says she’s witnessed several notable shifts in girls who attend weekly sessions at NiaMoves.
“They experience a clear sense of accomplishment for being able to do something they thought they couldn’t,” Erbland said. “We’ve seen other teens recognize and step into leadership roles, modeling positive behaviors for their peers to follow.”
Body image is often a stumbling block for adolescent girls, and my fellow teachers and I encourage students to appreciate their bodies without judgement. Cambrey Lindsay and Amy Thorpe lead Nia classes for the TCSI teens, while Tambrey Webb steps in with hooping.
Got plans for February 10? Let’s dress up and head to Bejeweled, TCSI’s annual fundraising gala. Proceeds will support scholarships for teens who depend on the services TCSI provides. A portion of the proceeds will help fuel programs such as “Dare to Dream, Dare to Dance,” meaning TCSI youth may continue coming to the studio for healing movement.
Bejeweled promises fun, food, drink, dancing, auctions, and the chance to win tickets to the smash hit Hamilton! Tickets to Bejeweled are now on sale.
When we support the important work of TCSI and the Nia studio’s mission, we help teens dance their way onto a future path of success!
Black Belt Nia Teacher
SuryaSoul Soma Teacher
Social media enthusiasts looking for that next great photo can thank Hurricane Harvey for the city’s newest artistic landmark. Today, Studio NiaMoves, an eclectic Heights area fitness and dance studio, announced its contribution to Houston street art culture with an electrifying elephant mural on its large east-facing wall at 508 Pecore St.
The project was completed in collaboration with Houston-based visual artist Emily Ding, whose previous work debuted during the 2017 Houston Urban Experience Mural Festival. Ding frequently releases new work at Hope Outdoor Gallery in Austin, as well as mural festivals across the nation.
Following on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, the idea for the newest mural crystalized when the studio offered dozens of complimentary classes, kids camps, and workshops for people needing stress relief.
“I wanted a visual way to highlight the studio's devotion to helping people live a harmonious life by tapping into their inner wisdom, strength and resiliency,” said studio owner Angela Mestre. “The elephant seemed the perfect symbol.”
Titled “Oneness”, the image depicts two elephants intertwined at the trunk. Known for living in harmony with their surroundings and for their immense intelligence, elephants in some cultures are revered for bringing luck and wisdom.
Even the studio’s search for an artist ties back to the hurricane. Mestre found Ding putting final touches on "The Birds Always Come Back," Ding’s 2017 Hue Mural Festival entry. Located near 2000 Lyons across from St. Arnold’s Brewery, the “Birds” painting was inspired by stories of Harvey survivors who dream of better times to come.
In Oneness, the ears of two elephants give the illusion of a single heart and head symbolizing peace, love and unity. With its natural textures, vibrant colors and translucent shading, “Oneness” stands ready made for pictures, already beckoning city explorers.
For more on the artist and the location, follow @mleeding and @NiaMoves. Use hashtags #MuralOfOneness and #ElephantWall for social media posts.
Studio NiaMoves (www.niamoves.com) is an eclectic fitness and dance studio at 508 Pecore in the Heights offering weekly classes in Nia, Yoga, Belly dance, Pilates, Zumba, Pound, Body of Movement, African dance and the Bollywood style workout Doonya, as well as monthly sessions in SuryaSoul, a conscious embodied dance experience, Trance Dance and 5Rhythms. Additionally, the 2,000 square-foot studio is home to a variety of wellness workshops and events.
El Gato Cat Cottage (www.elgatocoffeehouse.com) is adjacent to Studio NiaMoves. As Houston’s first cat cafe, El Gato offers adoption-ready cats in a feline-friendly, cafe-like environment.
For more information, contact
Yvonne Myles, Director of Communications
Have you noticed the vibrant murals and street art that adorn our city? Traffic boxes and brick walls are transformed into beautiful canvases for expression and imagination, becoming part of H-town culture. I am excited to announce Studio NiaMoves will contribute its own mural to our city’s colorful and electrifying art scene! Read more...
Our Nia community has invested its own energy into partially funding the long awaited mural which will take shape beginning Dec. 31. The mural design has been a dream of mine for the last several months, but finally took shape when I found the artist Emily while exploring the latest additions to Houston’s mural landscape during the 2017 Mural Festival.
NiaMoves Mural design - the Elephant
Half of the world’s populations venerate the elephant as a symbol of luck, wisdom and great intelligence. The Elephant is a majestic figure of great size living in harmony with its surroundings. Nowadays it is even used on various coats of arms and crests as a symbol of strength and resilience.
In the sketch that Emily created the ears of two elephants form the shape of a heart, giving the illusion of a single heart and one head, in turn symbolizing peace, love, and oneness. It takes a great talent to interpret an idea to this level of perfection. You can imagine how thrilled I was when I saw the sketch!
Emily is the co-creator behind the famous "The Birds Always Come Back," a mural inspired by stories of Hurricane Harvey survivors. In her depiction, a girl clasps her hair to her face with eyes and lips closed, as if she'll never find her happiness again. But there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and the birds eventually return. And happiness comes back too. Hearing Emily explain how she came up with the theme was a treat itself.
In the days following Hurricane Harvey we offered complimentary classes to help people cope with the aftermath of the storm. All of our regular class offerings and events are devoted to helping people tap into their inner wisdom, strength and resiliency to live a harmonious life.
The work for our mural at Studio NiaMoves is scheduled to begin December 31 and will take about a week or so to complete. During this time, the seven parking spots adjacent to the wall will be unavailable.
Give yourself a few extra minutes when arriving for classes and events to find parking. Use street parking whenever possible. Stop by for a quick chat with our talented artist Emily and watch this beautiful mural unfold in front of your eyes. You can also follow the progress online at @mleeding, @niamoves and #elephantwall. Once it is completed, bring your family, friends and neighbors by to take a photo!
I appreciate the investment to the mural fund by everyone who danced and contributed to the Nia Jams to raise seed money for the project. We are in this together. With the mural on the way, it’s going to be an EPIC start to 2018.
Studio NiaMoves owner