The National Centre for Dance Therapy takes part in many partnership projects of community initiatives. This is particularly true for Connected North, which has been offering creative dance workshops to young people through the NCDT since 2021, often coming from First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. Sandra Bach is a registered psychotherapist and through training offered by the NCDT, she is a dance therapy practitioner. She is from Ottawa, where the Kitche Zibi River connects beings through movement for millennia. Below, Sandra shares her experience of connection by movement with Connected North.
‘’It was Spring, 2021 and I was in my studio in Ottawa, facing my laptop. Looking back at me from their Zoom boxes are fifteen Grade 2 and 3 students from Sioux Mountain Public School in Sioux Lookout, a town of 5,000 situated between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg. Within these 15 individual squares, I was witnessing snapshots of busy family lives: little sisters, Dads, trampolines, grilled cheese sandwiches, glittery stuffed dinosaurs and the occasional curious cat.
From our spaces separated by two thousand kilometers and a global pandemic, we were about to move together; collaborating to create a shared language and experience through movement and music.
The vitality and excitement emanating from my screen is palpable and I marvel again at how organically and holistically children embody movement. As we warm up to The Northstars’ “Show Me Your Style,” they sway “like trees in the breeze” and rotate their shoulders “like big bear paws in the snow.” I see spontaneous star jumps, butterfly hands and elephant feet. I note the contagious effect on those sharing the children’s spaces as parents, siblings and pets join the dance. We are moving together and separately in the liminal space of Zoom, finding moments between heavy and light, stillness and chaos, light and dark. We embody the Northern Lights, wind, birds, stones, water. And, at the end, we check-in with ourselves through breath; hands on bellies, lying on the floor. As we move away from this shared experience, I encourage them to keep dancing, keep breathing and keep connected.
My goal for these creative movement workshops was to foster an increased movement vocabulary, inter- and intra-connectivity, creativity and an opportunity for expression, release and regulation set within a culturally safe framework. Additionally, I wanted to introduce simple, replicable coping skills and strategies they could practice on their own.
Reflecting on this, I also wonder if, in those challenging, isolated days of the pandemic, what we offered each other and ourselves above all was an embodied experience of the community, hope and joy. ‘’