I completed my Level 1 Tamalpa Training in movement based expressive arts therapy in March 2018 and continued to explore the Tamalpa Life Art Process through the development of a new body of work called Body Arcana. I applied for the artist bursary to deepen my understanding of how dance, the body and movement supports self reflection and healing within the African community in the UK and in Ghana. Though dance/ movement is ingrained within African cultures, their use as a reflective and healing tool is uncommon but it was my aim to begin to change this through this project.
The ‘Body Wisdom Discoveries’ workshop I held in Accra in August 2019 involved empathetic touch, body scanning, movement from a body part that ‘called for the attention of the participants,’ drawing, writing and witness feedback.
Below are some testimonials from the participants following the session:
Did you enter the workshop with any expectations about your experience? If you did, how did the workshop match up to this? If you didn’t, what did you leave the workshop with?
I was slightly anxious about what the day would entail and how interactions would
unfold given that I am extremely self-conscious about things like dancing in public. This
stems from being an incredibly painful child to carefree adulthood (lots of partying) and a sober period of just enjoying movement and dancing socially. It all boils down to not wanting a gaze (imagined or otherwise) centered on my body so this is something I really want to address in everyday life, why am I so self-conscious when I move through spaces and imagine being stared at? I was very open to the workshop and felt very present in my body as well as with the exchanges that occurred with my partner in the exercises, Theresa. Totally rewarding and meaningful experience that reminded me that the body is a whole and not fragmented entity.
What have you learnt about yourself/ your body?
I was able to define more clearly what I was going through at that time in terms of emotions, how they were manifesting through my body and how much space and connection they had with one another.
What have you learnt about others?
I’ve been able to see how much sisterhood (and community feeling altogether)is a common search and need for most of the participant. I also observed that we all need moments to find ourselves surrounded by like-minded, open and welcoming people to feel more grounded and available to go into our own bodies and selves.
I’ve also been able to confirm the thought that connecting to our bodies and ourselves is not an easy task, whatever culture we have.
The workshop confirmed my conviction that allowing ourselves to go into our bodies, listen to our own body language and expressions and explore through body and movement helped find more grounding and access to a more holistic knowledge of ourselves.
How significant was it to you to attend this workshop in Ghana and who do you think can benefit from this space? (groups/ specific individuals within your network )
It was significant as I’ve only read and seen on social media such workshops happening in Europe & Japan; and knowing I won’t be able to afford to attend now, was a powerful enriching experience for me. Also it being hosted by a woman of colour with Ghanaian ethnic roots added to my experience.
I think people dealing with mental health challenges, chronic illness, romantic breakups, body-image issues would benefit a lot.
I then went from California to Ghana to learn the Kpanlogo Dance, of the Ga tribe in Accra. This dance is known to be “the dance of the youth,” and originated during the wake of Ghana’s Independence in 1957 as a musical type for entertainment in Accra. The Kpanlogo music and dance was banned as it ‘made the body move in an indecent way.’ Today it is a dance that is performed at significant events such as funerals, festivals, and political rallies. The dance class that was taught with live african drumming provided an insight into how storytelling influences music and is translated through the body and dance.
Coaching calls with Lian Wilson over the duration of the project enabled me to ground the information I had received both from the start of the Tamalpa training course and the Kpanlogo dance class. The calls also enabled me to define clear intentions “Body Wisdom Discoveries” – a workshop specifically designed for artists in Ghana who were unfamiliar with the use of the expressive arts for self reflection.
My project began with the start of the Tamalpa L2 Training course in Embodied Leadership at the Tamalpa Institute in California. Arriving at Mountain Home Studio (the training course location in Marin County) at the end of July 2019 felt like coming home. It was the perfect time for me to be exploring embodied leadership and ways for me to hold spaces for others to explore their body wisdom through the expressive arts. The 4 week course allowed me to not only work with a range of facilitators in nature, but also explore identity by creating movement sequences that were influenced by the Tamalpa Life Art process for stress relief and relaxation.