Sophie Marsh is a phenomenon. She has the energy of a meteorite. She has a smile that lights up dark corners. She has an infectious joy in dance that radiates out from her body as she moves. Her class has everyone sweating and grinning and pulsing with energy all through the week.
And, in case you think this is dancing for youngsters, her classes combine all ages into one glorious melange of movement that switches from free-flow mellow swaying to fast paced hard-ass moves and then back to the floor for a wind-down stretch and mediation. This year we had a whole range of dancers from thirty-something singles through fortyish mums, fiftyish executives and sixtyish retirees.
It was a busy week with a lot besides Nia being crammed in. After the very first session Sophie organized a do-it-yourself coconut foot rub. The staff scraped the flesh of half a dozen coconuts in preparation, and Kalo, the man with the magic massage hands, showed everyone how to mix it and apply it to the feet with coconut oil. There were happy gasps of pleasure as people rubbed it into the soles of their feet and enjoyed the relaxation that spread up their legs.
Later in the week some of the group went off to explore the hot baths in Savusavu beside the medical clinic; these are plain concrete tubs fed directly from the geothermal hot springs. You can lie in the heat for as long as you want and then switch on the cold shower to cool down.
There were shopping trips into town, picnics at Devodara beach, snorkelling outside Daku. Some people just kicked back and let it all happen around them whilst they just enjoyed a quiet time by the pool. And then the lali would sound and they would unwind their sulus and beach towels, don their Nia garb, climb the steps back up to the platform and start the dance again……