Joanne Cuffe

Greetings! This page introduces the work that I am involved with and my background in dance and facilitation.

I have been facilitating dance since 2003 and am honoured to offer a variety of initiatives. Currently I lead dance programs with 15 communities, in the homelands of the Lək̓ʷəŋən, Xwsepsum and WSÁNEĆ Peoples, as well as coordinating projects.

I love creating spaces for people to move, connect, and see where shared creativity leads us. I am continually enlivened by witnessing participants connect with joy, freedom, friendship, solidarity and collective purpose.

For the past seven years I have been collaborating with communities who experience barriers in typical dance settings. I aim to nurture supportive spaces that are honouring of people of all abilities, backgrounds, genders, sexualities, and levels of experience. Participants at sessions range from adults, to kindergarten students, to people in their 90s, to young adults.

Summary

I have trained in numerous forms of dance, including contemporary modern, improvisation and integrated dance. I have a master’s of education and have been immersed in facilitating groups for 20 years.

I am deeply grateful to be living and working on the ancestral, sovereign and sacred lands of the Lekwungen, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ Nations.

Photo: Joanne's face and neck, smiling, in front of tall rocks.

I love how dance improvisation can provide:
-an embodied way to feel fully alive,
-a source of dignity and nourishment,
-endless possibilities for how to move and interact, and
-a way to connect with ourselves, each other and the world without needing to talk.

I am passionate about cross-disability dance, accessibility, decolonial learning, place-based and site-specific works, and encouraging connections among communities. I identify as an invisibly-disabled and nonbinary dance artist of european descent, and use they/them/their pronouns.

Dance training

I have been studying dance for 27 years. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to study improvisation with 30+ teachers, including Margie Gillis, DanceAbility International, All Bodies Dance Project, Robert Halley, Jung-Ah Chung, Crystal Pite, Merlin Nyakam, and Constance Cooke. My classes are influenced by what I have learned from a variety of teachers, forms and grounding practices; the acknowledging influences page lists more names and styles.

I have trained in contemporary modern at the Victoria School of Contemporary Dance, Raino Dance, and through a variety of master classes. I’m a professional member of the Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists/ West Chapter and the Canadian Dance Assembly.

Background in facilitation

Since I was 13 years old, I have been co-facilitating collectives and community groups. When I moved to the island, I worked at community education organizations for a decade. Whether it be groups around dance, learning, creative arts, support, or community concerns, I love the creative momentum of people working together. I am grateful for all of the amazing people I have learned from over the years, who have influenced how I facilitate dance.

I have a diploma in intercultural education, and my graduate degree is in community leadership and adult education from the University of Victoria (2009), with a focus on arts-based lifelong learning. For the final project, I used mixed media art to process the ways I am implicated in ongoing settler-colonialism through multiple generations of my family, which immigrated from Ireland, Scotland and England.

Transformative dance

Since I was 11 years old, dancing and expressive arts (poetry, song, art) have been a main-stay for me for transforming how I am feeling. Improvising movement continues to be one of the most important ways that I have for responding to experiences such as stress, joy, depression, inspiration, overwhelm, love, horror, gratitude, shame, anger, freedom. I believe that embodied movement provides a powerful way, over time, to transform and heal experiences of violence, dehumanization and trauma.

I appreciate how easily dance can connect people and communities, and help to shift dynamics and conflict.

I love how dance can reinvigorate how we each want to be with the world and the time that we live in.

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