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Art as Action

Art as Action (AaA) is a physically integrative dance company in Broomfield, Colorado redefining what it means to be a DANCER. Your donation supports dancers with and without Parkinson's and other movement disorders in experiencing the transformative power of dance and community.

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Reconnect with your Body

Class

Arts, Culture & Humanities 

Beneficiaries

Aging, Elderly, Senior Citizens
Disabled
People/Families of People with Health Conditions
People/Families with of People with Disabilities
People/Families with of People with Physical Disabilities

Description

Reconnect with your Body (Reconnect) is dance for people with and without Parkinson's disease (PD). What started as a small dance class has become a thriving multi-faceted program that includes weekly classes at two locations and community engagement in the Parkinson's and dance communities throughout Colorado. AaA Artistic Director Sarah Leversee is the teacher, choreographer and facilitator for Reconnect.

Reconnect is a safe space to explore movement and music in ways that are stimulating and creative, experiment with a variety of dance styles and experience a sense of belonging amongst a warm, supportive community.

Carol Jenkins, Reconnect participant with PD, describes the program: "Every dance class, I feel the tether of Parkinson's loosen. You beckon us to stretch beyond the stiffness of mind and body that inhabits us, binds us. You think we can dance, and so we dance, much to our surprise. Our fellow dancers exude a kind of joy that spreads to us all. PD falls away."

Reconnect classes currently serve 26 regular participants at two locations through weekly classes at Apex Community Center in Arvada and at the Colorado Conservatory of Dance (CCD) in Broomfield.


AaA leads Reconnect presentations for Parkinson's Support Groups throughout Colorado, providing the opportunity for a wide variety of people with PD and their care partners to learn and experience the joys and benefits of dance. A blend of movement, artistic expression and community building, Reconnect offers a vibrant and memorable experience for support group attendees.

After eight years of developing Reconnect, AaA has become a trusted resource for dance in the Parkinson's community, including the Movement Disorders Center, Parkinson's Association of the Rockies and Davis Phinney Foundation. Members of the AaA company have become educators about the transformative and healing power of dance, reaching audiences throughout Colorado, including at a variety of PD events.

AaA is a part of the annual Parkinson Association of the Rockies E3 (Educate, Empower, Energize) Conference. Members of the AaA dance company with Parkinson's join Reconnect teacher and AaA artistic director Sarah Leversee on stage to lead conference attendees in a much welcomed Reconnect dance break set to inspiring and upbeat music. Sarah and the dancers spend the rest of the conference as part of the "Empowerment Bar," inviting attendees to do simple, feel-good Reconnect movement to a variety of music in small groups.

The University of Colorado Movement Disorders Center hosts an annual Parkinson's Symposium where AaA dancers with Parkinson's also perform and Sarah leads an interactive dance break with attendees.

Both of these events are amazing opportunities to share the joy, healing and community spirit of dance with a wide range of people with Parkinson's and their care partners. Members of the AaA company with Parkinson's (who also participate in Reconnect classes) have the opportunity to make personal connections with other people with PD and share their experiences with dance. Event attendees have the chance to experience the magic of Reconnect firsthand, feeling the possibility of movement that otherwise would feel out of reach.

AaA also partners with the Davis Phinney Foundation (DPF), a national organization that focuses on living well with Parkinson's based in Boulder. In 2018, AaA Artistic Director Sarah Leversee contributed an article to the DPF blog called "Dance for Parkinson's: More than just Exercise." DPF is a 2019 sponsor, supporting the new Reconnect scholarship program for people who are unable to afford the class fees, and will have a presence at AaA events throughout the year.

In an effort to establish physically integrative dance as a valid and vital part of any diverse and thriving dance community, AaA participates in a variety of dance events, including "Open Space" at Dairy Arts Center presented by SCFD organization 3rd Law Dance/Theater and the "Dance for Every Body" showcase at Boulder Public Library. These types of performances give members of the Boulder Dance Community the opportunity to rediscover the delight of dancing free from the expectation of achievement and perfection that comes with being a technically trained dancer.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Reconnect class allows me to forgive my body for not living up to its full potential and appreciate all the incredible abilities I possess. I become lost in the music and movement, not only my movements but those free-spirited and graceful moves of my fellow dancers. Somehow I forget what brought me to this place where I am symptom free and feel like a dancer. I sense that this is definitely one of the best hours of my week, both for my body and my spirit.

Margie Dahlin
Reconnect Dancer

The Artivist Process

Class

Arts, Culture & Humanities 

Beneficiaries

Aging, Elderly, Senior Citizens
Disabled
People/Families of People with Health Conditions
People/Families with of People with Disabilities
People/Families with of People with Physical Disabilities

Description

The Artivist Process is the creative framework developed by AaA that is used to create AaA's annual show. Since 2002, AaA has successfully produced 16 multi-disciplinary shows, unifying diverse creative voices through this collaborative structure.

Company members with and without (dis)abilities contribute piece ideas around a common theme. The process includes milestones/deadlines that support the evolution and quality of work by new and seasoned artists. The workshop-style approach enables performers to provide input and feedback, shaping and strengthening each piece and weaving the show together into a cohesive narrative.

The nurturing, collaborative environment makes even the biggest artistic leap feel possible. Each company member plays a role in the "collective curation," creating a dynamic show from a wide variety of artistic voices.

The most talked about piece of AaA's 2018 show, "(in)VISIBLE," was "B'TWIXT and B'TWEEN (a migration of identity)," created through The Artivist Process by Carol Cowley and Jennifer Hightower. It was an example of storytelling between two dancer bodies, one with a (dis)ability and one without. Explains Carol, "While disability and depression whispered: 'You will never dance again,' AaA literally saved my life. It mattered not that I needed the support of my wheelchair and braces to dance: I was welcomed into a community whose members understood the challenges of living with a debilitating and progressive condition and the power of dance to heal and challenge stereotypes of 'The Disabled.' When I dance, I turn away from pain and limitation, toward hope and curiosity, creating a new identity. Dance has given us the power to transform not only ourselves, but those who bear witness to our journeys. I now dance in both worlds - (dis)abled and able-bodied. I am excited to be part of AaA's initiative to foster greater collaboration with professional dancers and to continue to tell stories of loss and empowerment that challenge assumptions about (dis)ABILITY."

Members of the Reconnect class were invited to join The Artivist Process for the first time in 2014, an experience many would never have considered before Reconnect uncovered their inner performer. These dancers stepped further into their artistic potential and have had increasing influence on TAP over the years. All AaA company members have equal voice and those voices are amplified in the culminating performance through dance and spoken word. The inclusion of a wide range of performers contributes to a wide range of audience members, many who are not seasoned performance goers. Storytelling through spoken word integrated with dance maximizes audience understanding and ability to relate. The performances are enhanced with both recorded and live music.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

As explained by audience member Mollie McGill, "(The AaA show) was exceptional. It communicated a powerful, beautiful, and integrated story of humanity. Dance, movement, and the expression of one's heart and hopes is so healing and powerful. I want to thank AaA for providing the opportunity for dancers and community members like me to celebrate life and the artistic voice in all of us."

Key aspects of this profile information have been reviewed by Community First Foundation staff. Each organization is exclusively responsible for the content that appears on the profile page. Community First Foundation offers general guidance as to the purpose of each area but does not require or encourage charities to include anything in particular in each section.