This is my very first blog post. I’m a little nervous about it. If I could dance it to you, I would. Here, isn’t everything possible nowadays?
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Dancing and movement have always been part of my life. First as a classical ballet, then different modern dance techniques and finally my heart setting on dance improvisation. I have been teaching and choreographing with Body Shift since 2010 and that is when I took part of the intensive that Body Shift offered and it made me so happy to dance with everyone that I begged to be a part of it. Now I teach Elements, which is our bi-weekly class, and co-create with the participants a performance in a month-long performance workshop where we bring dance to a public place like the pedestrian bridge or in front of the court house. This month we also start choreography lab, which is a place for anyone to bring their ideas about a dance that they want to make or an idea about a dance score that they want to try out. As always with Body Shift, these classes are open to all! I hope to dance with you soon.
A Note from Olivia:
My love for movement and dance started when I was a child playing records and twirling around in my room to The Beatles. Mom took me to ballet classes but I quickly lost interest as that style of movement did not appeal to me. I wanted to be free to move in whatever way I chose and express my individuality. Soon after, I discovered mime, musical theatre and acting classes. This led me to studying theatre improv and physical theatre as a teen. In undergrad as a theatre major I was introduced to improvisational dance and I was hooked. I found it was a form of dance that could be used with actors for ensemble building and for generating extraordinary character interaction. My friend and mentor, Pat Stone, introduced me to the idea that improvisation could be used to make dance accessible to all people. The idea that people who move in unique ways and might otherwise be isolated from something so wonderful could experience their bodies through improv was so exciting to me that I went all the way to Germany to take part in the DanceAbility teacher certification program with Alito Alessi. That was twelve years ago and since then I have made it a priority to share dance with people of all abilities.
I started working with VSA as the movement coach and sound designer for Actual Lives, a theatre company made up of adults with physical disabilities. When Allison Orr offered a mixed-ability dance workshop back in 2009 I was there along with a group of actors from Actual Lives and Body Shift was born! We started out by offering an intensive in 2010.
The Actual Lives theatre company celebrates the end of another successful show.
I had met Silva in the DanceAbility course in Germany and it was our great fortune that she fell in love and married a man from Austin (she’s from Finland!) and moved here not long before that first Body Shift intensive. After the 2011 intensive, people were hungry for more opportunities to dance together so we started offering a monthly class in addition to the annual intensive. In 2013, we launched the performance workshop series which ends with a site-specific showing of our work. Now, many of the regular participants have gotten so advanced that they are making their own work and share at choreography lab every 3rd Saturday of the month. In addition, Silva and I have begun teaching a weekly class at the Conley Guerrero Senior Center on the east side and have taught workshops for Texas School for the Blind, Texas Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services and more. To summarize – Body Shift has grown from one intensive to now two beginner classes each month, two performance workshops a year, a choreography lab once a month plus an intensive and regular workshops and classes throughout the community.
It brings us so much joy to see people moving together and having fun that we can’t stop adding more opportunities to make it happen as much as possible! When will you come and dance with us?!?
Participants of the Elements class at the Town Lake YMCA
Come to the Elements classes, held every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month, from 2:30-4:30pm at the Town Lake YMCA (1st floor exercise studio), 1100 West Cesar Chavez Street in Austin! Cost is on a sliding scale of $5-$20. See you there!