I participated in Hiie’s dance classes during my stay at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. Without having any previous experience of the Nia Technique I found Hiie’s guidance clear and thorough. From the beginning, she also encouraged us to find our own self-expression and the freedom in movement which gave room for playful and genuine exploration. I experienced the classes and Hiie’s teaching rich in visual imagery which not only made the experience of dancing more vivid and inspiring but also enabled me to attune to the movements, other dancers and our shared surrounding. I also felt that Hiie’s wonderful ability to create a communal and trustful atmosphere in her classes was especially heartening and memorable to me in regard of my stay in another city.
Inka Kynkäänniemi, artist (Finland)
Hiie Saumaa has all the qualities I seek in a dance teacher. She has a personal style that makes her an inspiration to watch. She is musical and energetic and she is creative in exploring nuances of movement. In addition, Hiie is knowledgeable in somatics and is articulate. She can guide with words as well as by example. Her positive and supportive attitude makes her class a joy. Coming from a New York City dance school background, I was surprised and delighted to find someone of Hiie’s caliber teaching at my neighborhood gym. We miss her terribly. I cannot recommend her too highly.
Patricia Zybert, statistician/tap dancer (USA)
The Nia lesson with Hiie Saumaa is a great pleasure. The basic steps and movements are easy to follow while challenging the whole body. There are fluid elements, one movement develops to the next, later kicks and punches express more forceful energies. In between guided movement she encourages us to explore our own movements, especially for the arms while the legs are following repeated steps. She addresses the psyche and the heart of the dancers, giving images and ideas for which the movements stands. After an hour with this warm-hearted dance professor, you feel enriched physically and spiritually.
Alexandra Deutsch, visual artist (Germany)
For over two and a half years I took Hiie Saumaa’s weekly Nia class at Body Strength Fitness/Life in Motion, a fitness club in New York City. Hiie’s classes were always enjoyable, with an engaging, varied playlist of music. Her choreography was varied and imaginative, drawing upon a wide range of dance and movement forms and evincing a deep awareness of the anatomy of exercise. While her moves were easy to follow, they also enabled participants to embellish and adjust according to their own abilities and style. I have an extensive background in jazz dance; I was able to bring that training to bear in Hiie’s classes, adding my own sensibilities to the movements. But participants without dance training also were able to take Hiie’s choreography and make it their own. One more thing: In addition to being fun, Hiie’s classes always gave me a challenging workout, raising my heart rate and stretching out my muscles, all with minimal threat of injury. I was sorry to see Hiie leave New York; I recommend her to you without hesitation. Her classes will prove a valuable addition to any exercise program.
Michael Takiff, writer/performer (USA)
I have been taking weekly Nia classes with Hiie for 9 months now and I must say I have loved every single class. The classes vary from week to week and they are taught with an irrepressible sprit, a kind energy and a joyful heart. Hiie starts each class with a body and mind focus. We follow her movements, we interact with others and we dance freely to our own rhythm. I love her use of metaphors allowing us to experience the movements with more intention and precision. I also took several mother/ daughter classes with Hiie. My daughter who is a newly minted teen is at stage where she’s very body conscious and reserved. Hiie created such a safe and loving space that my daughter’s inhibitions disappeared. With Hiie’s guidance, mothers and daughters connect not only physically but also spiritually. Hiie’s passion for dance and Nia is so contagious that we keep coming back for more. Thank you Hiie!
Adriana Samaniego, HR & Financial Officer (France)
Hiie Saumaa was my dance instructor over the course of the fall of 2018 and spring of 2019. Approximately once weekly during this time frame, Ms. Saumaa offered an hour-long movement class focused on physical and mental coordination, sensitivity, and self-reflection. With grace and passion she led our class to take risks – to think about the relationship between our way of moving in space both within the studio and beyond. Her thoughtful arrangement of the music and movement made plain the extent to which she cares for the people she shares her work with. Though I have taken modern and classical dance classes for several years as a younger person, Ms. Saumaa’s class has been the most generous I have had the pleasure of experiencing. I learned a variety of movement techniques and found myself engaged from beginning to end. I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity to have learned from – and danced with – her.
Kaiama Glover, Professor of French and Africana Studies (USA)
I took Nia classes from Hiie Saumaa from 2013 to 2018 in New York City. Hiie is a natural mover with an extraordinary sense of musicality. Hiie encourages dancers to experience sensation in the moment, to find integrity in the movement, and to trust one’s body. Her teaching always includes a wide range of movement dynamics, allowing dancers to experience a range of motion, rhythm, and energy levels. Hiie’s teaching is generous and kind as she acknowledges dancers’ different needs, while her classes provide the type of kinetic stimulation that leads me, at least, into a wonderful sense of flow.
Cynthia Meyers, Professor of Communication (USA)
The dancing in the classes of Hiie wakes my energy up! It makes my body feel beautiful in moving and wants me to let in a wave from top to toes!
Marcel Korenhof, actor (the Netherlands)
During my stay at the Cité Internationale des Arts in the spring of 2019, I participated in Hiie Saumaa’s dance classes twice a week in the morning. It was the best start of the day and I miss it back in Sweden! She is very positive and inspiring and adapts her lessons to all different levels in the group. She is well organized but also able to improvise depending on the wishes and demands of the group. I have a long experience of physical education and I strongly recommend her as an energizing teacher with great skills both as a teacher and as a dancer.
Kerstin Dahl Noren, visual artist (Sweden)
I, Yvonne Puckett professional dance fitness instructor, am delighted to be writing these words of praise for Hiie Saumaa. During the 10 years I have known her, we have worked together at Fitness Centers and also teamed up as instructors to teach together. Hiie is an amazing talent. She is dedicated, reliable, top-performing & eternally upbeat as a certified Nia instructor. Her class members leave her classes feeling joyful and much better than when they arrived. She would be an exceptional asset for any job. I heartily endorse her. New York City misses her.
Yvonne Adrian Puckett, dancer and dance teacher (USA)
As someone who has made dance and movement a lifelong pursuit because I believe the mind/body connection is the key to mindfulness. I have worked in many modalities with a huge range of teachers. Without question, Hiie Saumaa is the person whose teaching has stayed with me. She doesn’t come in a with a set routine; every class is different, with a different focus based on feedback from those who are in the class. The feeling of a personal connection is something you feel at once. She has a superb understanding of the body in all its parts. I have long struggled with sit-ups and core strength. At one point, Hiie suggested I make friends with my core. So I started calling my abdomen “Cora” and I have a new appreciation for the center of my body as an integral part of me, not just a reluctant muscle. In another session I recall, she asked how we were feeling before we started. Someone said “I can’t say that I feel anything.” Ms. Saumaa responded by having us all sit on the ground and we started working with our feet up through our bodies until we were thoroughly grounded when we started to move. I have experienced classes where she began by having us write spontaneously for 3 minutes before we started--sharing aloud was optional. I have learned to lie on my back and write the alphabet in the air with my toes and she encourages you to explore movement by giving you visual images and you find yourself telling a story as you enact what comes to you as a result.
There is nothing unconsidered about Ms. Saumaa’s teaching methodology. She expects more than spontaneity, she encourages you to go deeper into a movement and drills you to become better. She herself is a perennial student of new ways to explore the mind/body connection. In class you get the benefit of her assimilations from Kundalini Yoga, Pilates, NIA, Somatics, Ballet, Martial Arts, and strength training, to mention a few. Hiie Saumaa is a master teacher; her classes are not about her, they are about you. Through discipline, you are encouraged to focus and make your own connections with your body. I could go on about her innovative combinations of music and rhythms; her own exquisite form and grace with which she leads, and her sense of humor which gives you the permission to open up, to say “Yes” to the dance. We have come to expect those things from a movement class. However, those who have studied with Hiie Saumaa, like myself, have also experienced a keen sense of well-being and connectedness in her classes. There is a saying attributed to everyone from PT Barnum to Maya Angelou which describes Hiie Saumaa’s teaching. “They may not remember what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
Priscilla Tate, founder and managing director of Technology Managers Forum (USA)
I took Hiie’s weekly dance classes at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. These classes were an important part of my 6-month artist residency in Paris. They reconnected me to my body. I enjoyed not only the physical movements but also the way Hiie drew our attention to the mind and imagination. After our classes in the morning, I was full of energy and had ideas for my work and the day ahead. Hiie’s classes are fantastic for creative people, for artists in all fields.
Anisa Ashkar, visual artist (Palestine)
I've been going to Hiie’s NIA classes in Tartu (Estonia) since 2014. Ever since the first class I've been looking forward to every possibility to attend. Hiie’s physical energy, expressive freedom and enthusiasm is very engaging. Following her lead magically makes me feel like I, too, can dance! Even improvise! Hiie makes this workout so much fun - in terms of my body, mind and soul! And I love her choice of music!
Kaire Maimets-Volt, Professor of Music (Estonia)
For a period of four years, I had the great privilege of being in a small group movement class with Hiie Saumaa, in the Body Logos technique she teaches and develops. I can attest from the student perspective that she is a superb pedagogue. Her work as a teacher combines a unique intelligence, thoughtfulness and sensitivity, with imagination, creativity and innovation – skills she also tries to foster in her students. I learned more about the body and movement from Hiie than in many decades of practicing yoga, Pilates, dance and other forms of exercise. That is all due to her attentiveness to the smallest movement and to her ability to break it down into even smaller units so her students can internalize it.
Marianne Hirsch, Professor of Comparative Literature (USA)
I worked with Hiie for four years. For a couple of years I took her BodyLogos class, and then for a year I worked with her one-on-one. She is an excellent teacher, experienced and knowledgeable. She focuses on each person in her class and when she works with an individual client she designs a specific training workout to focus on what the client wants to achieve. For example, strength training, core development, flexibility, and so forth. She has genuine warmth, always has a smile, and a positive attitude. I highly recommend Hiie.
Gregg McCarty, university administrator (NYC, USA)
Every time I start dancing around the house, I remember how good it felt to dance with Hiie at the Unfinished Conference in Bucharest. Hiie planted the “dancing virus” in me. I am thankful in so many ways. After three days of dancing most of the anxiety and back pain in my body was almost gone. Such a good decision to wake up and attend the morning dancing classes and how good it felt afterwards. I loved the way Hiie invited us to move through our own story. Every word that she said and every move that we did made me feel like my body, my mind, and my soul were one and going in the same direction. Such an inspiration for me! I haven’t decided yet what will be my next step towards somatic dance, but until I make a decision I am practicing at home what I learned from her. I appreciate the wonderful energy Hiie creates while dancing.
Corina Iordance (Bucharest, Romania)
Dancing that is poetry of physical flow. Hiie leads people’s movement with a clear sense of the deeper effect that the process has on our physical, emotional, and social selves. Dancing with her is more than a pleasure; it is profoundly therapeutic.
Jurgis Didžiulis, songwriter, performer, speaker, activist (Colombia, Lithuania)
I love dancing, but had never been particularly interested in fitness or strength training until I met Hiie and started taking private classes with her. Hiie’s attention to individual needs is exceptional. She intuitively understands what you are looking for and adapts her teaching accordingly; demonstrating, encouraging, correcting and inspiring you to progress. I feel more connected to my physical being and aware of mind/body harmony than ever before. Recently, due to lockdown, we had to switch to Zoom classes and I have been tremendously impressed by Hiie’s ability to see which muscles are working and whether my placement is correct via laptop screen!
Louise Brody, graphic designer (Paris)