Global Nashville: Building Bridges of Compassion

Click Here for Action Steps “Braid” full piece, in rehearsal and performance.                                                 Global Nashville premiers Braid from Amanda Cantrell Roche on Vimeo. Global Nashville: Building Bridges …

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Social Justice Dance: “Yearning to Breathe Free” and “Divine Sparks”

Photo by Martin O'ConnorPhoto by Martin O’Connor

I am in the process of visioning and creating a new work based on collected stories of immigrants and refugees living in Nashville. Here is a video sample of social justice choreography, teaching artist residency, and film projects, and below are two of my previous social justice works:

Amanda Cantrell Roche work samples from Amanda Cantrell Roche on Vimeo.

“Yearning to Breathe Free” features the voices of Julie from Colombia, Elizabeth from Burma, and Kasar from Kurdistan, who now call Nashville home.

Combining audio excerpts of interviews with music and contemporary choreography, this piece gives a window into immigrants’ lives before and after they make a new home in Nashville. It also urges a constructive dialogue on immigration and reminds us of the words engraved on our Statue of Liberty:  “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.”

“Yearning to Breathe Free” premiered at Blue Moves’ “Blue O2” show as part of Nashville’s SIDESHOW Fringe Festival in August, 2013. It was part of the Picnic in the Park Series Thursday, October 24th, along with excerpts of “Voices of Nashville”, Tennessee Women’s Theater Project’s new play sharing the stories of immigrants in our community. Thanks to Metro Arts Commission and ArtOber for making this performance possible. This piece was also part of  Global Education Center‘s Global Bash in February and on the Vanderbilt Dance Program’s Spring Concert in April 2014.

Excerpts were performed at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in June 2015, opening the plenary session “The Power of Arts in Transforming Communities.” You can watch that performance here.

Responses from audience members:

“I took the time to go see this dance and it was amazingly beautiful…. tears came to my eyes as I was challenged to see and hear of experiences that have never been a part of my reality…. such a worthy endeavor.” — Kathy Plourde

“Story told through the ARTS builds bridges and connects us like nothing else! As part of Picnic in the Park I just saw “Yearning to Breathe Free” and excerpts of “Voices of Nashville” at the library. I wish all especially those who are prejudiced, rigid and afraid could hear the immigrant stories collected and incorporated into these two pieces. Thank you Amanda Cantrell Roche and Blue Moves dance group and Sara Sharpe and Christine Mather and TN Women’s Theater Project!” – Dawn Kirk


Lucent Vignette Photography

Lucent Vignette Photography

“Divine Sparks” premiered October 25, 2014 as part of Blue Moves’ “Burning Blue” at Cumberland Park, Nashville. It was also performed for an integrated audience of general public and the homeless at Room in the Inn, in conjunction with Poverty & the Arts, February 2015.

Featuring the words of Lindsey Krinks of Open Table Nashville, Tamara Ambar of Nashville Conflict Resolution Center, Ngawang Losel of One Human Race 4 Justice and Sara Sharpe of Festive Evolution, this dance recognizes the fire of activism and the divine spark that exists within us all to work towards making our communities and our world a more just and better place.

You can watch excerpts of “Divine Sparks” here.

Responses from audience members:

‘Divine Sparks’ deeply impressed, inspired, and touched me. Amanda Cantrell Roche truly has a gift for creating work of that nature that maintains the difficult balance between subtly and directness, invoking real emotions and encouraging action, rather than bringing guilt for inaction.” – Rebekah Hampton Barger

“Deeply satisfying art meditation on the ‘divine spark’ in us all, shared among us, individual to us. Beautiful choreography and execution. I wish everyone I know could have been there – talk about enLIGHTenment!!!!” – Carol Ponder (this was in response to both “Divine Sparks” and also the entire show, “Burning Blue”)


In March and August of 2016, Blue Moves presented “Illuminated Beings” at Barking Legs Theater in Chattanooga, and at the Nashville Fringe Festival.  Both featured the social justice dances “Divine Sparks” and “Freedom from Fear”, a tribute to Burmease pro-democracy hero Aung San Suu Kyi.

Illuminated Beings Fringe promo from Amanda Cantrell Roche on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 4th and Saturday, August 6th, SIDESHOW Fringe Festival presented Blue Moves’ “Illuminated Beings” — social justice dance, film and spoken word — at Belmont’s Black Box Theater. The show featured two dances and a short film by Blue Moves, as well as a dance and spoken word piece by Ann Law of Barking Legs Theater in Chattanooga, and a spoken word poem by Nashville’s Joseph Powell.

Blue Moves is a democratically-run contemporary dance company which has been creating theme-based performances for nearly three decades. Most shows feature several choreographers creating works inspired by a common theme such as fire (Burning Blue) or earth (Blue Terra). However, the Blue Moves works on “Illuminated Beings” are all by social justice choreographer and company co-founder, Amanda Cantrell Roche.

Nashville Scene article by Stephen Trageser.



Activism for Turkey

This short film features the stories of five Turkish men and women who fled their homeland and now call Nashville home:  Between Two Worlds: Voices of Turkish Dissidents Turkey has held a special place in my heart since I travelled there as a guest on a Culture and Dialogue Turkey …

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Restorative Justice & the Arts Residencies

In January and February of 2017, I was part of a group of teaching artists who went through training under Metro Arts Commission for Restorative Justice & the Arts. As part of a broad effort to move away from incarceration of juvenile offenders in Davidson County, Metro Arts Commission is …

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Individual Somatic Sessions

Recently, a participant in an integrative health workshop asked me to work with her one-on-one regarding total body connection and self-healing. During these six, one-hour sessions I realized how much I loved focusing on one person’s specific needs, and that, although I hold no certification in therapeutic or somatic work, …

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Private Workshops and Classes

As of November 2016, I am no longer offering public workshops and classes for the foreseeable future, with the exception of occasional collaborations with other facilitators. I will continue to offer individual somatic healing sessions and workshops for organizations or private groups upon request. Any of my 2.5 hour workshops can …

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Film Projects

After decades as choreography and writing as my primary forms of creative expression, in recent years I’ve been drawn to exploring film. “Towards Ayasofya’s Wisdom” is a short film about Turkey, Islam and the Gulen Movement inspired by my trip as a guest of The Atlantic Institute’s Culture and Dialogue trip …

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