Artist of the Month: Tanya Winters

Artist of the Month: Tanya Winters

Art Spark Texas artist Tanya Winters is a dancer and choreographer with Body Shift Collective and Art Spark Dance. Tanya is also one of our teachers for Elements classes and she will be facilitating the first class of March – March14th from 2:30-4:30 pm at the Townlake YMCA.

Tanya moved to Austin from Chicago after a weekend trip here in 2001, when she fell in love with this city (and we are so happy that she did). Tanya’s career as an artist began in the theatre in 2005, and shifted to dance in 2007, thanks to a wooden chair and the desire to tell a story. She has now created several choreographies and was certified as a DanceAbility teacher in 2011.

Tanya and Silva together with big smiles, but very dirt-covered faces.She and I have been working on a duet called Together and Apart, which explores the relationship between movement, environment, and the art of human interaction, scheduled to be performed at “Dome Show” in June 2020. We are re-creating the “dirt face” part of the duet (more details on that closer to the date.)

Tanya is also a passionate disability advocate, and has expressed that she hopes her work will motivate other dancers to think outside the box to erase the line between ability and disability. She commented when Body Shift Collective was performing and teaching at the Texas Dance Improvisation Festival in 2018, “Any disability advocate will tell you change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes the strength of many to blaze a trail toward full inclusion and equality. That’s why I am so proud to be a part of Body Shift. Together we danced our way into the Texas Dance Improvisation Festival and created a path that will make it easier not only for dancers [people] with disabilities but anyone who wants to explore the world of movement.”

Tanya is sitting in her wheelchair on the right side of the photo with the rest of the Body Shift Collective dancers and teachers at the Texas Dance Improvisational Festival. Tanya in front of students telling the story of how she ended up in the dance world. Silva is sitting on the floor laughing.

In the beginning of February, Tanya and Veronica DeWitt, another Body Shift teacher, and I visited Tampa, Florida where we taught a weekend workshop at the University of South Florida. There were several moments that were memorable, but I will never forget the way the students listened when Tanya was telling her story on how she ended up in the dance world and the impact that dance has had on her life. If you ever get a chance to ask Tanya to tell you that story, you should.

Tanya was the board president for Art Spark Texas for the past year and now serves as the vice president. Her support and vision, dedication and passion towards the inclusive dance world are palpable. Art Spark wouldn’t be what it is and do the things we are doing without her. She will and already has made a huge difference in our community and beyond. Tanya has some artistic visions that we can’t wait to make reality. She is also my best friend and dance partner, and I couldn’t not have asked for a more amazing teacher than Tanya.

Silva Laukkanen, Director Of Integrated Dance

Image Description: Tanya and Silva together with big smiles, but very dirt-covered faces.
Tanya is sitting in her wheelchair on the right side of the photo with the rest of the Body Shift Collective dancers and teachers at the Texas Dance Improvisational Festival.
Tanya in front of students telling the story of how she ended up in the dance world. Silva is sitting on the floor laughing.

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