In April I was excited to work with the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee for their after-school program R.I.S.E. (Refugee and Immigrant Students Empowered). Over the course of a week I introduced middle school refugee students to dance and choreographic composition fundamentals, we reflected on our personal and communal identities, explored writing identity poems, and then created a short dance and spoken word piece expressing individual and community characteristics. This process mirrors a longer process I undertook in a social justice dance/narrative project on immigration. Many thanks to the Metro Arts Commission for helping make these residencies possible, as well as a residency completed in October 2013 for the same program.
This mini documentary of the residencies was made possible by a mini grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission and was filmed and edited by Ian Cresswell. Dance and Writing Residencies for R.I.S.E.
My recently-completed choreographic project is on the theme of Immigration, and premiered as part of a Blue Moves’ production Saturday, August 3rd at Belmont’s Black Box Theater as part of the SIDESHOW Fringe Festival. My work on this began by researching and interviewing three sources from different areas of the world on their experience as immigrants; a Kurdish refugee woman who spent much of her childhood living in a tent in Turkey under harsh conditions before coming to the United States, and a Burmese woman who fled the Civil War in Myanmar. Another woman speaks of her experience immigrating from Colombia at the age of 10, and translating for her mother for many years. The dance features three solos highlighting the experience of three immigrant or refugee women, set to the audio narration in their own words, as well as framing dances which address how we respond to immigrants and refugees, and how we need to shift the attitudes of fear and misunderstanding to knowledge and acceptance, and have a constructive dialogue on this complex issue.
“Yearning to Breathe Free” 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, opening the plenary session “The Power of Arts in Transforming Communities.” You can watch that performance here.
To see excerpts and hear more about this dance, click here.
Photo by Martin O’Connor
Comprehensive Immigration Reform is an Emergency! Please contact your Congressional Representative today and urge for support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. More info here.
My work in progress for Blue Moves’ fire-themed show October 25, 2014 at Cumberland Park, Nashville is “Divine Sparks”. Like “Yearning to Breathe Free,” this piece also features recorded words from interviews set to choreography. Local activists Lindsey Krinks, Tamara Losel, Ngawang Losel and Sara Sharpe speak of their passion for helping others, as well as the spark within each of us to be engaged in making a positive social impact.
Two-hour to full-day creative process, personal growth workshops can be designed for your organization as a public or private offering. I am also available to integrate workshops into yoga or other spiritual or therapeutic retreats. Movement, creative writing and visual play is a powerful combination for actively reflecting upon, uncovering and embodying personal truths, and creating a vision and path to move forward. Participants are gently guided through a process of reflection, sharing, journaling and movement exploration in these workshops. Topics may include balance and centering, boundaries, re-igniting creative and professional drive, or one which we collaboratively design to fit your organization’s needs. Please contact me for pricing. firstname.lastname@example.org
I have offered workshops at The Estuary, Gilda’s Club Nashville and am a regular teacher at Art & Soul Studio.
What participants have said about workshops and class series:
“I came to this workshop expecting to learn to deal with the shifting world around me. Silly me, I thought what would happen is that I would learn to reorder the world in a more balanced way. What happened instead was that I learned to shift!” — Tracy, “Shifting Sands, Divining Balance”.
“This was a thought-provoking workshop. Thanks for offering it and for leading us through it so beautifully.” — Janis, “Boundaries”.
“I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the class. I took it because I was heading for a major life change and this was the impetus for me to head in another direction. ” – Gail, “The Hero’s Journey” co-taught with F. Lynne Bachleda.
My approach to Teaching Artistry, whether in schools, in professional development seminars or in workshops for the community, always involves deep reflection, inquiry, guided exploration and art making. I am rooted in community service and social justice, and often infuse participant creative involvement in my work as a choreographer and activist.
Currently I am collaboratively designing and will be team facilitating TPAC Education’s Fall Institute
, a two-day aesthetic education/arts integration for classroom teachers.