One of our outreach teachers relayed a surprising visit she had during a recent class with the elderly veterans at the VA: "There were two people observing our class yesterday. They watched for a good 3+ minutes when I invited them to join. A man named Thomas showed me his cane and said he can't dance. He turned to go and as he was walking away I called out, "Well maybe you'll join us for a dance next time!". With that, he turned back around and said he'd like to join now and asked for a rattle. He greeted the veterans and stood with them shaking the rattle. One of the class participants recognized him and said, "I've heard you speak! We were both in the Army." Thomas said, "Yes, I was in the Army." He greeted the guys and, at the end, thanked the recreation therapist, Allison, and myself for our work. I had no idea until later that he is the Director of the entire VA Palo Alto Healthcare System! What a class act of a guy."
Dance disappears barriers!
The year has been full of growth and exciting developments for Syzygy Dance Project. As we gear up for the warmth of Summer, we are reminding ourselves to stay grounded in our intentions, community, and well-being. We invite you to do the same and hope to see you out on the dance floor with your fellow movers and shakers soon! Please read on for heartwarming news from our outreach programs as well as upcoming workshops.
Dancing through Recovery
We are thrilled to expand our impact for people in recovery, both locally and nationally. Our program at Options Recovery Services (which began in 2011), has grown from one class to two, upon the request of their staff. Moreover, we were able to train one of Options' staff members to lead the class herself! Jennie (pictured right with Sylvie) is a counselor at Options Recovery Services. She joined our Outreach Facilitator Training in February and is now leading movement classes at the center. We are inspired by Jennie's dedication to serving her community—as both a counselor and movement facilitator! Jennie commented, "When you're in treatment, you spend a lot of time sitting in a chair. It's important to get out of your head and back in touch with your body. The movement classes strengthen everything the women are learning at Options. It reinforces the sisterhood and community that is so important for them." One of our generous donors supported Jennie with a scholarship for the training. If you are interested in supporting a future trainee, please email us.
Sylvie recently traveled to New Jersey to host a class for women at C.A.R.E.S. (Center for Addiction Recovery Education & Success). The class was well received and we are forming plans with Life Center Stage and C.A.R.E.S. to bring movement and dance to recovery programs across New Jersey! Vicky Mulligan, founder of Life Center Stage, explained, "It was a gift to learn such a powerful movement practice and then to be able to share this experience with our partner organizations. It strengthened our community.” The image above shows the group cheering each other on in a soul train exercise.
New Class for Transgender Inmates
We are happy to announce a new class for transgender inmates at the San Francisco County Jail started this week! After witnessing the impact of our classes for women inmates at the jail over the past 9 years, their staff requested that we offer another class for transgender inmates. Pavini, who attended our Outreach Facilitator Training in February, will assist Sylvie in these classes.
Additionally, Sylvie has been invited to present at Arts in Corrections: Reframing the Landscape of Justice, a national conference hosted by California Lawyers for the Arts and the William James Association in collaboration with Santa Clara University and the Justice Arts Coalition, from June 24-28th. We are thrilled to be amongst other artists and arts administrators bringing the arts to correctional institutes across the country!
Moving and Shaking our Way into Healthcare
One of our visions this year is to bring the power of movement, music and attunement to healthcare professionals and caregivers, providing them with self-care tools as well as additional tools for connecting with patients and families. We have already offered a number of trainings, the latest being for occupational therapy graduate students at San Jose State University and for the staff at Gender Health SF (part of the San Francisco Department of Public Health). The director of Gender Health SF commented that it was a "transformative experience" and would like to discuss further collaborations.
SDP Goes International
Sylvie, Wendy and Kamala headed overseas this past November for a whirlwind month of teaching and training in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia! Sylvie offered a 5Rhythms workshop on Ancestors and a Medicine Circle workshop. Sylvie and Wendy also led a 4-day Outreach Facilitator Training, for people wanting to bring movement to underserved communities.
We worked with a wonderful team in Australia—Sue, Rebecca and Lucine—who coordinated and produced the events. Sue commented "whether it was the outreach training or the movement workshops, people were simply blown away by these offerings." After such a positive reception, we are considering bringing Syzygy Dance Project outreach classes to underserved groups in Australia.
Medicine Circle Weekend | July 12-14 | Flagstaff, AZ
In this intensive weekend in Flagstaff, Sylvie, Wendy and Kristen will offer our powerful Medicine Circle work, which was inspired by Sylvie's teachers Gabrielle Roth, Angeles Arrien, and Tito La Rosa. Weaving ritual, community, movement, sound and prayer, we connect with spirit and dance for our collective healing. This weekend offers a deep immersion into a soulful dance journey. As we create this container to hold each other, dancers may enter into the center and move with whatever is calling for expression or healing, opening to expansion and transformation. Click here for more information and to register! For our local Bay Area community: we will also be hosting a Medicine Circle workshop in Marin County on October 19-20. Please click here for more information.
We are committed to continual growth and expansion, ensuring that dance makes its way to every body. As you can tell, things are moving and shaking here at SDP, and we are only able to continue bringing this work out into the world with your support. If you have connections to a community that could benefit from our work and/or funding sources to help us sustain our work, please contact us. We appreciate each and every donation, as it goes toward bringing the healing power of dance to those in need of some care! If you have the means, we encourage you to set up a recurring (monly, quarterly, yearly) gift in order to support SDP in an ongoing fashion.
Thank you for helping us make a difference in people's lives and for making a difference in ours.
In loving gratitude,
Sylvie, Kamala, and Emily