Category Archives: workshop

Dancing with Art: March 27-31

Am delighted to be facilitating a week-long intergenerational workshop at the end of March on five afternoons. Ages 9 to 70+ are welcome! Below is the description from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria website:

Spring Camp 2017: Dancing with Art (ages 9+)

Monday, March 27 – Friday, March 31 | 1:00pm – 4:00pm

At the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Photo of a marionette-type of figurine with an arm raised and arm out, in front of a mixed media painting with varied colours and textures.
Photo Credit: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

“Move in new ways! Join Joanne for a week of expressing yourself through playful dance activities and creative arts. Improv movement sessions will be held in various locations around the Gallery where inspiration will be sought from paintings, sculpture, sound, poetry, buildings and the land. Over the five days the group will also collaborate on creating a site-specific dance piece.

“All abilities are welcome and activities will be adapted to accommodate each participant. There is no wrong move, and no prior dance experience is needed!”

For the cost and registration please see the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria website.

Accessibility notes: The Dancing with Art venue is an older building, and although it has washrooms that are designated as mobility accessible, the width of the restroom doorways and turn-around space may be too narrow for some participants who use wheelchairs. There are ramps to the restrooms and to the gallery rooms. The gallery is lit by bright lighting (including fluorescent lights); it may be useful to bring a hat with a visor and/or sunglasses if you are sensitive to lighting. We will spend time in two studios that have windows , natural lighting and access to fresh air; as well as movement sessions in some gallery rooms that have no windows; and we can do some activities outdoors if it is not raining (please bring weather-appropriate clothing).
Please be in touch with Joanne if you would like any accessibility details, such as the dimensions of doorways and layout of the restrooms.

A Creative Toolkit for Stress: Sat. Feb. 27

I would like to invite you to join me for the only dancing for wellbeing public offering I have this season:
Dancing into Wellbeing: A Creative Toolkit for Stress, Saturday Feb. 27th at Royal Roads University. We will be dancing in two lovely rooms – a big hall, plus a field trip to a foyer with windows looking out to the sea and forest – these are my favourite spaces for dancing!

Photo: a very large conference room or hall, with a shiny floor and 7 chairs in a circle
We get to dance all day in this lovely hall!

Although I have facilitated 450 dance sessions since the last workshop I facilitated at Royal Roads in November 2014… that workshop is my favourite session thus far (with a close runner-up of a Dancing for Wellbeing workshop I led on a Saturday in November 2015). I have found that there is something especially nourishing about moving throughout a full day together, with a mix of moving on our own in solitude and connecting with each other and as a group.

The description and registration link are on this continuing studies page. Registering by Feb. 12th is recommended. There is also one work-trade spot available (If you are excited about the workshop but cost is a barrier, please be in touch. Later this year there will also be sliding-scale opportunities to dance.)

If you would like to read participants’ reflections from last time at Royal Roads, please see the “dealing with life’s challenging moments with movement” blog post. At recent workshops the age range has been people in their 20s-80s.

For the workshop, I have woven in the activities that participants have found the most powerful/fun/useful at dancing for wellbeing classes and workshops in recent years. The activities integrate concepts from the dozens of teachers with whom I have studied, as well as the movement practices that I rely on when I feel overwhelmed.

p.s. If someone comes to mind who you think might be drawn to this workshop, please feel free to share this link with them: https://secure.royalroads.ca/cscourses/dancing-into-wellbeing-a-creative-toolkit-for-stress. Thank-you!

Autumn schedule

Upcoming sessions (Fall 2015):

Photo: two adults dancing facing each other looking down

Dance for Brain Health:
Weekly classes:
Mondays 2:30pm at Cedar Hill Recreation, starts Sept. 21st.
Workshop:
Sat. Oct. 17th, 1pm at Monterey Centre.

Dancing for Wellbeing:*Photo: four people in a circle smiling dancing, and two people facing each other arms in the air
-October session: Monday Oct. 19th, 7pm.
-Full-day workshop: Saturday Nov. 7th, 10am-4pm through Programs in Earth Literacies (scholarships available).

*As this autumn I am at full capacity with community programs, I am currently offering monthly Dancing for Wellbeing sessions, rather than weekly classes (to be added to an interest list about weekly classes in the New Year, please be in touch).

The days of summer are numbered

Greetings everyone!

My apologies for being so quiet online since the spring. Dance programs have been very busy and lovely with new locations across the region; however this has had a side effect: I have not had a chance to send newsletters, tweet, or post updates. And, I have missed being in touch with participants from dancing for wellbeing and dance for brain health sessions while classes paused for the summer.

Photo: ten people seated in a circle, each holding an arm of a sunshine prop with a pink circle centre.
Sharing laughter with residents experiencing memory loss, as we bounce a rubber chicken to a Beatles song.

Although I usually focus on updates that highlight a particular location, today my theme is numbers, which feels a bit odd. Yet numbers seem like a useful way to summarize the beautiful whirl of the past while, and to offer more context (/an alibi) for why I have been offline. As an example, during the past 7 days, I have danced with 132 participants, including 20 new people, at 13 locations. It’s an honour to connect and be creative with so many fun people.

In the past 6 months I have met 395 new participants at programs…. I find it quite tricky to keep track of so many people’s names – although at least there are some repeated names, such as on Saturday there were 4 people with the name Joyce across 3 locations! I started keeping tally of numbers of participants in 2012; in the past 3 years I have danced with around 1152 unique participants, at more than 50 locations.

Background is a map with roads; foreground has various location markers: circles and squares of different colours.
I use an online map to keep track of locations.

Over the past 5 workdays, I have bicycle commuted 80 kilometers. This is likely a record, as I do not usually go around to so many neighbourhoods in the same week. This week involved 10 different areas in Lekwungen and WSANEC homelands: Oaklands, Saanichton, Brentwood Bay x2, Burnside-Gorge, Gordon Head, Vic West, James Bay x3, Esquimalt, Swan Lake, Cadboro Bay, and tomorrow involves Sidney (…although I will bus both ways tomorrow). I am grateful that for autumn, it has been possible to set up my schedule so that sessions in the same neighbourhood are on the same day.

Recently, I am often out of the office from 10am-4:30pm with programs, and then I spend time in the office to prepare activities, playlists and props, and to follow up about logistics for programs (with ~20 organizations and workshops at 5 locations).

Photo: big rocks with tidepools, one person walking in the waterway, background: fog with silhouettes of trees.
Wandering in Long Beach tide pools

And, one of my favourite numbers from this summer: I spent 7 nights camping at Long Beach/ Tofino in Tla-o-qui-aht in early August. My family came together for it, from Gatineau/Ottawa, Nicaragua and Burnaby, and it was also where I met my delightful 4-month-old nephew for the first time.

I hope that summer has treated you and family as well as possible, and that we get to catch up and dance soon!

“dealing with life’s challenging moments with movement”

Photo: a very large conference room or hall, with a shiny floor and 7 chairs in a circle
We danced all day in this beautiful hall

The workshop at Royal Roads University on Saturday November 22nd felt amazing and was with an excellent group. We went from 10am – 4:30pm with Dancing into Wellbeing: A Creative Toolkit for Stress.

We danced in the lovely, spacious Grant building quarterdeck, with the sunlight changing angles through the tall windows over the course of the day. We also did a field trip to the building next door with an incredible view over the forests, sea, lagoon and castle. I forgot to take a picture of the view, as I was too focused on the group’s graceful movements and enchanted by the sun going down.

Here are reflections from some participants who were happy to share their words on this website:

From Gaye:
“Thank-you for a wonderful, creative, fun day!”
I learned… “I love to dance. I love the idea of dealing with life’s challenging moments with movement.”
I liked… “everything! If I had to choose a favorite, I guess it would be the personal dance about Needs Inventory. I chose Beauty and composed a hand dance that seemed so beautiful to me, just when I felt I didn’t have a single creative idea in me. Such a wonderful surprise!”
What did not work for you about today’s session? What could Joanne do differently next time? “I don’t know, Joanne, it seemed perfect to me in every way. Well, maybe omit [the song] Que Sera Sera??! :)”

Anonymous:
I liked… “that it was low key, no pressure, everything was optional, no right or wrong”
I learned… “that I could move (was afraid of being blocked + wooden)”
What did not work for you about today’s session? What could Joanne do differently next time? “Can’t think of anything. Well maybe end the class 1/2 hour early! (I always feel that’s a bonus, no matter what the course)”

From Larry:
I liked… “great explanations; great pace + relaxed mood; good music to work with; Nina Simone’s song was perfect”
I learned… “greater appreciation of my own movements”
“Thanks for a wonderful day”

DanceAbility Day

Thank-you to Alito Alessi of DanceAbility International for a fabulous workshop on September 7th! Alito spoke about his insightful work in recent decades, presented lovely films, and facilitated a fun warm-up and activities. Much gratitude to Laura at Instruments of Change for organizing the day in Vancouver in Coast Salish Territories.

The day’s purpose was to introduce the DanceAbility Method, “which brings together people across the full spectrum of all abilities and disabilities.” The goal is “to work with all people” in “any combination of people.” I greatly appreciate Alito’s passion for creating opportunities, through improvised movement, so that “Anyone who wants to dance, can dance.” This strongly resonates with my enthusiasm for facilitating dance. Alito emphasized that “the focus is to eliminate isolation,” to “create experiences of connectedness,” and to “go everywhere together.”

Here are a few photos by Laura Barron of the workshop, of the group exploring movement in small groups, on our own and in larger groups.

(I am amused that my backside was to the camera in all three of these, although the workshop was process-oriented rather than performing – there was not a ‘front’ or audience side to the room ;-).)

Moving with organs, and interdisciplinary play

I had an excellent time at Mascall Dance‘s Way Out West intensive last week in Vancouver. I loved the daily somatic-based technique class, experiential anatomy (including initiating movement from lungs, kidneys, etc.), and an interdisciplinary workshop in pop-up performance.

Here are photos by Yvonne Chew of the first day, including a few moments from the first interdisciplinary workshop, where we had ~45 minutes to form groups and come up with something to perform. We tied in movement, sound, text, narrative, music, light and improvisation.

In classes this Fall I look forward to bringing in ideas from the intensive.

Improvising from poetry

For the last day of Margie Gillis‘ marvelous master classes last week, she asked us to each bring in a short snippet of a poem and improvise to the words read out at various tempos by another dancer.

What poem would you pick, and what is a line or two that stand out for you? I would love to hear suggestions of favourite poems – every couple of months in Dancing for Wellbeing sessions we do a bit of dancing with poetry and new ideas are welcome.

Last week the only book I had on hand started with a poem by the late Irish poet John O’Donohue, Beannacht, which ends with “And so may a slow/ wind work these words/ of love around you,/ an invisible cloak/ to mind your life.”

Photos by Yvonne Chew of my improvising to the poem: