Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Body Shift: Year in Review and February Elements Teacher Profiles

Hello, friends! Olivia O'Hare, Body Shift Project Coordinator, speaking to you from the VSA Texas offices. 2016 was an amazing year for the development and expansion of Body Shift's programming. We began offering the Elements class twice a month, got the choreography lab under way, and had a variety of performances around town as well as guest artist Heidi Latsky's movement installation, On Display, in honor of the International Day of People with Disabilities. There is no sign of things slowing down in 2017! In additon to our on-going classes we are happy to share that Nina Martin will return to work with us in March and April. We will also be hosting StopGap Dance Company from England for a two week residency in the end of July! For more information and updates about the calendar of events, please check out our new and improved Body Shift website here.

One of the things we hope for in the new year is that you will consider coming to dance with us in our all level, all abilities dance improvisation class Elements in which we practice the DanceAbility method (click here for more information about our Elements class). Classes have grown since this time last year but we still have plenty of room for more of you all to join us. No dance experience, no problem. Professional dancer? I encourage you to join us as well. The cool thing about the DanceAbility method is that the more diverse the group, the more effective and enriching the experience is for everyone involved. We hope for a broad spectrum of abilities and backgrounds to come together to dance and have fun. Instead of imitating prescribed movements, improvisation offers the opportunity to discover the full potential of your body, as you are.

Since Body Shift hosted the month long, 150 hour DanceAbility teacher certification course back in 2015, we now have an awesome team of instructors in rotation to teach the Elements class. Included below is a little more info about the folks who will be co-teaching on February 11th and 25th – save those dates 'cause Errin and Dany always teach an awesome class!

Errin, Andy (Townlake YMCA employee) and Dany together after the Body Shift informance at the YMCA Abilities Expo

Teacher Profile – Errin Delperdang

Errin always knew she wanted to dance and, at the age of 5, she finally convinced her parents to sign her up for classes. She studied and performed ballet, tap and jazz throughout her childhood and teenage years and decided to pursue dance at the collegiate level after high school. In 2003 Errin graduated from UT with a BFA in dance. After school she moved to New York and worked with many inspiring dancers, choreographers, musicians and artists. Errin returned to Austin in 2009 and began making work. Her choreography has been produced by Fusebox Festival, Ready Set Go!, Co-lab, Dance Umbrella and others. In addition to her artistic endeavors, Errin began taking classes taught by DanceAbility trained teachers Olivia O’Hare and Silva Laukkanen. She became interested in the improvisational techniques and the unique movement generated in these classes so when the opportunity to become certified in the DanceAbility method arose, she signed up and became a teacher herself.

Learning the DanceAbility method and dancing with Body Shift consistently opens up new possibilities for movement that Errin didn’t know existed. The experience of dancing with a diverse group of movers is empowering and educational. Errin is constantly amazed by the ability of dance to connect people with one another in a unique and meaningful way. Errin also teaches Pilates and is fascinated by human movement potential in many applications. Body Shift is different in that there is no prescribed or codified movement, as there is with Pilates and most other forms of dance. There are no steps to learn or a “correct” form. All movement is appreciated and included, allowing for creativity to be the guiding principle.

The next endeavor for Errin is to become a physical therapist. In June she starts the physical therapy doctoral program at Texas State University. Her goal is to bring the benefits of improvisational movement to a physical therapy practice in the hopes of helping people achieve their full movement potential. When she isn’t dancing, teaching or studying, Errin loves to see live performance, take her dog on greenbelt hikes and go camping when she can get away.

Tanya Winters, Errin and Dany in rehearsal for last summer's Body Shift performance directed by Olivia O'Hare, "Your Way of Thinking"

Teacher Profile – Dany Casey

Dany Casey loves to dance. She earned her B.A. in Dance from the New School University (NYC) and bounced around the country before landing here in Austin. After starting a job at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI), she became wildly interested in accessibility and the unique perspectives and experiences gained by a diverse and inclusive population. By chance, a few months after starting that job, a DanceAbility teacher training came to Austin. It was the perfect marriage of movement, inclusion, collaboration, creativity, and teaching. Dany loves to persistently explore new possibilities with others, which is a cornerstone in the DanceAbility method. She has found that through working in groups where there is sensory diversity, one can open doors of perception that would otherwise be invisible.

In addition to working at TSBVI and working with Body Shift, Dany is also pursuing her Sign Language Interpreter Certification through Austin Community College (ACC). It is another lens through which to approach accessibility, and she has immensely enjoyed interacting in the Deaf Community (which is totally CHAMP here in Austin!). She has a particular interest in working with the Deaf-Blind community.

When she is not being delighted by her students or signing in an interpreting class, you might find her tending to her army of plants or throwing a stick for her pup. She looks forward to dancing with you!

Dany, Errin and Susie Angel performing in last summer's Body Shift performance directed by Olivia O'Hare, "Your Way of Thinking"

If you are new to dance or perhaps have always loved to dance but are interested in a new way of moving, the Elements class is for you. Come shift your perspective! Every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month at the Townlake YMCA in Austin from 2:30-4:30 PM. Cost is on a sliding scale of $5-$20 and no membership to the Y is required.

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