Oct. 27th CATA Arts Workshops are Underway!
CATA’s new program year has launched! Workshops are now taking place in 32 settings across Berkshire County and in our own Studio in Great Barrington. Read below to get a glimpse of CATA’s day-to-day work through the eyes of an intern as she describes how creativity blooms in a place of mutual respect.
Reflections on CATA’s Moving Company Workshop by Heather Meehan, CATA intern
September 22, 2014
CATA’s Moving Company, led by Dawn Lane, CATA’s Program & Artistic Director, is a class geared specifically towards developing choreography and performance, with a mixed ability group of dancers. Each dancer in the company has been invited personally because of their inherent talent for movement and potential for performance. This class is a stunning reminder of how dance serves as a mode of healing and empowerment. In the moment, since I am viewing these artists up close and getting to know them as individuals, it is easy to forget that this experience, for them, is not a given. When I step back and take the time to remember that, I often find myself overwhelmed by emotion– this experience of movement as an expression of ability, which I can so easily take for granted, is an incredibly precious moment.
Dawn has structured the exercises in her class today, taking inspiration from the language of this year’s theme– “Ready, Willing, and Able.”
During the “able” exercise, we used movement to draw the initials of our full name in space. This exercise was powerfully metaphorical: not only were we using movement as an alternative mode of communication for those who sometimes struggle with verbal expression, but we were also making our presence known. By inscribing our initials in space with our bodies, we make a powerful statement: We are here. We are present. We are ABLE.
Next came the “willing” exercise. Prior to the exercise, which involved mirroring a partner, the class had a discussion of what it means to be willing. We came to the conclusion that willingness involves trust, and an attitude of wanting to try out something new. My partner, a dancer with disabilities, asked if I would be willing to lead and she would mirror. “I trust you, Heather,” she told me. Reflecting upon this moment and the class as a whole, it occurred to me that trust requires trustworthiness and vice versa. My partner trusting me compelled me to be worthy of that trust, and my trustworthiness gave her permission to trust me. In this space of mutual respect, creative possibilities blossom.
This moment of trust, as it plays out on an interpersonal basis, is also integral to CATA’s mission. In all the workshops I have attended thus far, I have noted that CATA Faculty Artists maintain a high artistic standard while remaining responsive to the varying ability levels of the artists they are working with. Each teacher demonstrates her trustworthiness by maintaining these standards while also remaining empathic and attentive to her students. The students respond to this trust by putting in their best effort according to their capabilities. The sense of mutual respect that comes along with this is integral to CATA’s mission, and you can see it demonstrated consistently in every workshop.