Back in August, Core Dance Executive Director, Elizabeth Labbe-Webb, dance community member Sally O’Grady, and Core Dance Community Programs Facilitator, Stefanie Boettle, lead “Dance and Movement for Healing” workshops at the Symposium “The Power to Connect,” presented by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. Read on to see what Stefanie and Elizabeth had to say about the workshops!
The workshops were very well received! After just the first workshop, word spread about how much fun our sessions were. Workshop participants who were signed up for other sessions left their assigned sessions to come to ours. We heard participants call across the hallways and up the staircases how much fun “the Dance workshop” was. At one point we considered moving the sessions out to the beautiful deck area at the Marriott to have more room.
In workshop one, there were two participants who initially did not want to participate. As the class went on, they both opened up more and more. One of the participants, who uses a wheelchair, was inspired by the way Elizabeth used her wheelchair to dance her version of “tapping the foot in the water”. As he swirled around in circles with his wheelchair, the smile on his face grew and the movements with his arms grew bigger and bigger. The other participant even performed a solo dance in the circle with such confidence and joy that everyone in the room clapped and cheered her on. At the end of the session they both left with so much life in their eyes. With huge smiles, they said goodbye to Elizabeth and I with a big, sweaty hug.
This sense of community and happy confidence building continued the next day. One workshop session had several participants who really wanted to stay against the wall, away from the other dancers. Elizabeth and Sally honored this need for safe space, but invited them to move as they felt comfortable. By the end of the class they were bouncing in their chairs, still against the wall, but having a great time with the group they were in. By the end of the final session, several participants had taken the class 4 times and one dancer, who lives with cerebral palsy, was planning to find a dance class in her community so she could continue to explore new ways to move her body.