The first thing that Nia students learn is a heel-lead step. The body was designed to step heel first.
If you look at the skeleton of the foot, you will see that the structure suggests which part would be most likely to bear a strike and weight, and which part would be suited to providing a greater surface area to help with balance.
Try this: Take some careful steps; one foot after the other. Just notice how you step. Then, become super conscious about leading each step with your heel. Your steps should repeat this: Heel, whole foot, and then push off the ball of the back foot. Right foot: heel, put the rest of your foot down, left heel rises, you push through to the ball of the left foot, and so on.
The second lesson in Nia choreography is the clock. The easiest way for students to move the same way all together is to have them stand on an imaginary clock face. Standing feet together, twelve o’clock is straight in front of you and six o’clock is straight behind. The rest of the numbers on the clock fall where they normally do between twelve and six, no matter where you are in the room.
You are on a clock face right now, as you read this. More than likely your computer screen is at twelve o’clock, your mouse at two to three o’clock, and so on. Although there is some learning curve, it makes sense and within a few classes most if not all students get the steps and can really start to dance the moves.
Try this: Stand with feet together (closed stance), then heel lead a step straight to twelve o’clock and then rock back through center and place that same foot at six o’clock. Your left foot stays center the whole time. It’s like you take a step and then decide to back up. When you back up, you decide to go forward before you actually take a step. Switch sides so you take the steps with your left foot. That’s called a basic step or The Short Clock. Soon after these two steps are mastered, we add a cha cha cha to switch sides, but that’s for later.