Storytelling through dance and organizing

I’ve always been intrigued by storytelling. My parents read to me a lot as a kid, but I think my fascination comes from the desire to be connected to something larger than myself. I know my love of storytelling is what brought me to both the arts and organizing.

Some of you know me as the Senior Campaign Organizer with MASSCreative, and some of you may know that I’ll be dancing in Copley Square this weekend to help celebrate Celebrity Series of Boston's 75th Anniversary. I think the idea behind Le Grand Continental, and putting dance in the streets, helps to tell our collective story. We all want to be connected to something larger than ourselves. This is my tiny corner of that larger experience. 

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Growing up, I danced classical ballet – 11 years of the Nutcracker, tutus, pointe shoes, and everything else that comes along with the stereotype. In college, I turned to the dark side- I was introduced to modern dance and dabbled in teaching classes and dancing in festivals. After college, I turned to the darker side, working as a community organizer for a statewide non-profit that works on democracy and environmental issues. Soon my nights in the studio turned into nights registering young people to vote, collecting signatures to increase the Pell grant, and meeting with young people to make sure they still believed that we could rebuild our flawed but actual democracy.

I still believe we can rebuild our democracy, but when I moved back to MA and Boston shortly after the Marathon bombings to work with MASSCreative, I questioned if arts still mattered when put in the context of all the other issues our city, our state, our country are dealing with. During the Boston Mayoral election, through working with MASSCreative and the Create the Vote Coalition, I saw how arts and culture play a role in addressing public safety, education, and community building. Over the past year, I’ve seen how we can become strong when we come together.

And over the past 10 weeks through Le Grand Continental, I’ve logged 40+ hours of rehearsal with 100+ strangers, a true exercise in community building. Who knows if I would have ever interacted with these beautiful people if not for Celebrity Series' interest in putting dance in the streets: a truly democratic action. Through Le Grand Continental, I’ve not only been reunited with dance, but with my community. We all have personal stories that we tell through our various backgrounds, ages, shapes, and sizes. For many of us, this is our own version of “A Chorus Line.” I hope Le Grand Continental, whether you’re a dancer or a viewer, helps to show all of us how the arts truly matter.

Check out performance times and more about Le Grand Continental here.

 

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commented 2014-05-15 06:24:40 -0400 · Flag
Yes, I am dancing as part of Le Grand Continental. I am a recently retired pediatric occupational therapist with very limited formal dance training, but I love to dance. Everything about this experience has been amazing. One night, a small group of us were practicing with the music. For some reason, at a particular time in the dance, (not necessarily a beautiful section or anything) I could not contain myself, and shouted, “ I love this part!” Hard to explain the connection between my movements, the music, and just something beyond… But what came next was really the ultimate surprise – 3 or 4 other people shouted “Me too!” These are people of all ages, all walks of life, who I hardly know— yet we experienced some kind of shared joy. Gratitude.

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