Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Dancing into unknown Forms of Leadership

I currently work as a freelance artist for Creativity Works, an organisation that commissioned artist Marina Sossi to lead the socially-engaged art and health project The Black Dog Residency. I wrote this article for The Black Dog Residency blog.

My name is Itta Howie. As part of the Creative Links project I offer Soul Dances – Movement and Imagery. I have led sessions before and after Marina’s residency, pausing during the time of the residency to give the black dog more space to roam.

In each of my sessions we let movement experiences flow into drawings. Below are the titles I gave my drawings from the last five weeks: 

Beginning to know one another

Cell bodies landing

Birds messing about

Let’s see what happens


Looking at the titles I see a process. It’s partially a familiar process I go through every time I work with a group. But in sessions four and five something unfamiliar happened to me: shifting, questioning, relaxing, doubting, wanting, needing, allowing, tightening, losing it – a legacy of the Black Dog Residency?

The journeys with the black dog are not over. They meander through my sessions. I notice a shift in participants’ desires. How do I respond to these? 

Somehow the last session was all about tortoises. So here it is, me as a chameleon-tortoise in the middle of a session, trying to adapt, to take on the many colours swirling around me, feeling for what’s needed, putting out spikes to protect me. I shared these feelings with the group – suddenly all of us were connected on the same ‘horizontal plane’ with our emotions, questions and doubts.

At the time I felt exhausted, challenged and desperate. Now it feels like a good starting point for a new journey:

How can I go with the flow of what happens within the group and also take responsibility for what’s happening?

How can I inspire with my art form and creative processes and also give room to the processes unfolding within the group?

How can I combine ‘holding’ with ‘letting go’?