June 15, 2014

Artist, Inspiration

Mother of Philly Dance, Miss Ione Nash Comes to Washington

By Jacqueline Lara of The ArtFullness Project

I had the opportunity to take a dance class taught by Master dance legend Ione Nash this past Friday.  She was in town from Philadelphia, and when Martha Peterson told me about her upcoming class, she made sure to note, “Miss Nash is something else. She’s 91 years young and holds a 4th degree black belt.” This intrigued me to take her class, and after viewing this footage of Miss Nash in action, I was sold.

She is a very petite woman—definitely under 5 feet tall, but her strength and power is unparalleled. Case in point—during the warm-up, she effortlessly demonstrated various leg lifts and holds, which all challenged the core, and never skipped a beat.  All attendees nervously eyed each other when it was our turn to execute, and to say we struggled was an understatement.  Miss Nash hollered, “Come on ladies, legs UP! It didn’t look like that when I did it? Let’s GO!”

As my leg felt like it was beginning to cramp, I wanted to blurt out, “I just had a baby 4 months ago…” but being in the presence of an elder who had certainly endured much in her lifetime and made no excuses, I kept quiet and continued ‘working’ my core.

Watching Miss Nash sashay across the floor and add her nuances to each movement was beautiful and inspiring at the same time.  She made me want to challenge myself more, and I threw myself into each movement.  A master at her craft, she observed our every movement, and would sternly say, “Keep your heels on floor during that movement, elbows out more on this movement, and it’s not the arms doing the movement, it’s your shoulders…”

Ione Nash doing the splits

It was a real gift to participate in Miss Nash’s class, and gives new meaning to being passionate and disciplined about one’s craft.  Age is all relative.

Art expands your mind to new possibilities, new people, cultures and concepts.