From Jazz to Tai Chi: The Various Dance Techniques of Nia

07 March 2023
For Pia Poppy

In this article, we will explore the various dance techniques used in Nia and how they are combined to form this innovative movement practice.

Woman dancing during a Nia technique dance class

Nia is a holistic fitness practice that combines elements of dance, martial arts, and healing arts to create a unique and dynamic movement experience. The incorporation of different dance techniques is one of the key features of Nia. They are used to create a diverse range of movements that help improve strength, flexibility, and overall fitness. 

Jazz dance

Jazz dance is one of the foundational dance techniques used in Nia. Jazz dance is characterized by its upbeat and energetic movements, including jumps, kicks, and turns. This type of dance technique is often associated with music genres such as swing, blues, and rock, and it is frequently used in musical theatre and dance performances.

Modern dance

Modern dance is another foundational technique used in Nia. This style of dance emerged in the early 20th century as a rejection of classical ballet’s strict rules and movements. Modern dance emphasizes fluid movements, including floor work, and encourages the expression of emotions through dance.

Duncan dance

Duncan dance is a type of modern dance that is inspired by the work of Isadora Duncan, a pioneer of modern dance in the early 20th century. Natural movements are emphasized in Duncan dance, such as barefoot dancing and flowing arm movements. It encourages dancers to connect with their emotions and express them through movement.

People dancing at Nia Africa holistic movement workshop
Women dancing at Nia Africa workshop

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art that emphasizes slow, fluid movements and deep breathing. Tai Chi is often practiced for its health benefits, including improved balance, flexibility, and relaxation.

Tae Kwon Do

Tae Kwon Do is a Korean martial art that emphasizes high kicks, punches, and strikes. This form of martial art is often practiced for its self-defense benefits, as well as its ability to improve strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness.


Aikido is a Japanese martial art that focuses on redirecting an opponent’s energy rather than using force to defeat them. This technique emphasizes circular movements and flowing techniques, making it a gentle yet effective martial art for self-defense.

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How the fusion works

In Nia, these various dance techniques and martial arts are combined in a way that encourages creativity, self-expression, and body awareness. Nia routines often include movements that draw inspiration from these different styles, as well as other movement forms such as yoga, Pilates, and modern dance. The music used in Nia routines is also diverse, drawing from a variety of genres, including world music, pop, and classical music.

The fusion of different dance techniques in Nia creates a dynamic and engaging movement practice that can be adapted to a wide range of fitness levels and interests. Whether you’re looking to improve your strength, flexibility, or overall well-being, Nia offers a fun and effective way to achieve your fitness goals while exploring the art of movement.

Woman practicing Nia dance while stimulating the vagus nerve

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