Friday, October 27, 2017

VSA Texas Unsung Hero of the Week: Silva Laukkanen

Photo of Silva

Today’s unsung hero is a woman who is very dear to my heart. Silva Laukkanen arrived in Austin in 2009 and immediately made her home in the Body Shift community. She has been a tireless advocate for inclusive community dance ever since. As she prepares to leave Austin to pursue a new adventure in Albuquerque, I am reminded of all the laughter and all the tears we have shared. Life in Austin won’t be the same without her, but life in Albuquerque is about to get a whole lot sweeter.

Why do I think Silva is an unsung hero? Well, for one reason, she never says no to any idea. It has always been “Yes, and…” with Silva. Although she will be the first to tell you that this habit has not always been easy, she bounces back and always says “Yes!” to the next opportunity. She has an opinion on just about everything and is not shy in letting you know it. However, she rarely takes credit for all that she has done and the lives that she has touched, and so today I want to acknowledge her for all that she is and all that she has done for me and VSA Texas.

Taking photos during Bridging the Gap rehearsal on Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge

Without her ‘can do’ attitude, we would not have our wonderful movement class at Rosedale School. We would not have had our marvelous experience with Stephen Koplowitz at Sparky Park. We would not have joined Heidi Latsky in her global On Display annual recognition of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Our work with Nina Martin would not have the richness that it has developed. We would not have had our boundaries stretched by working with Gerda König and Mahesh. And her tireless advocacy, along with strong support from Olivia O’Hare, brought Alito Alessi to Austin; changing the way we look at inclusive dance and significantly influencing how we teach our Elements classes. She has touched the lives of incarcerated women, disabled veterans, pre-kindergarten and elementary school children needing love and support, mothers and daughters, teachers, college students both with and without disabilities, dancers of all abilities, and the VSA family of individuals with diverse abilities.

Silva, Celia and Olivia, the dynamic trio, planning another choreographer residency

Managing a career, while co-raising three children under the age of 9 with her husband Charles, has provided Silva an opportunity to lose sleep, be in three places at once, and forget how to speak English once in awhile. But she knows what the word friend means, and she is a perfect example of loyalty and dedication.

Silva and Sarra during On Display at the Blanton Museum

As her departure appears on the horizon, I will not say goodbye, but instead, see you soon. I wish you and your family good fortune, fun adventures, and new beginnings. I love you and will miss you – a lot. Thank you for being my friend.


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