Fall Dance Programs and the Poetry of Movement with Peggy Lamb

Fall Dance Programs and the Poetry of Movement with Peggy Lamb

By Silva Laukkanen 

I’m so excited about the opportunity to return to in-person dance and movement classes! I had the honor to be back at the Veterans Administration (VA) Outpatient Clinic to teach veterans a couple of Fridays ago, and I felt so invigorated and happy after the class. I have missed being with people in the same space moving together. So, it is very exciting to think that this Fall we are planning on bringing back our once-a-month “elements” dance classes that I will be teaching. We hope to start a new once-a-month class that is disability-led and open only for dancers with disabilities that will be facilitated by Tanya Winters.

A group of performers in a dance class.
Seven dancers in a space that has weights in the background. The dancers are in a circle joined together holding hands and raising them in the air.

Also, this Fall Tanya and Veronica DeWitt are teaching at the Texas Dance Improvisation Festival as well as performing their newest duet “Pieces of Her.” This duet has been in the works since before the pandemic and we are so happy to be able to bring it in front of an audience. You can register to participate in TDIF here.

Another completely new class, funded by the Gannett Foundation, that I’m super excited about is the 8-week class series called “Poetry of Movement with Peggy Lamb.” Peggy is a local dance artist and massage therapist who has participated in our classes and performances in the past. In fact, you can see her here dancing and smiling.

A group of dancers performing outside.
Peggy Lamb performing with dancers from Body Shift Collective

Peggy holds a master’s degree in Dance from American University in Washington, D.C. and has volunteered for over 10 years with a local organization called Truth be Told. She teaches creative movement and writing to incarcerated women.

Peggy has had a very long and successful career as a massage therapist. As founder of Massage Publications/The Abundant Bodyworker she offers continuing education and coaching to massage therapists.

Peggy is a native New Yorker who first came to Austin via Santa Fe, then Dallas, and finally found her community here in Austin. Talking about community and finding the right one — Peggy and a group of her dancer friends have had practice gathering once a week to move together for the past 16 years. These women range from the ages of 69-80 years of age. They all agree that movement keeps them young and provides the much-needed food for their soul.  Peggy calls them “juicy vital women.”

Dancers dancing in front of mirrors
Peggy Lamb and dancers from Art Spark Dance’s Elements Class.

Peggy has always loved the intersection of dance and words, but after seeing a performance in New York City choreographed by David Gordon, which combined these two art forms in brilliant ways , her interest grew exponentially bigger. After seeing that performance she took a creative writing class. When I interviewed Peggy for this blog she said, “I love to explore that. What does the body say? Because the body speaks, but not in words, right? Then what is the cellular wisdom swimming through our bodies that needs to be expressed? And then how can we take that experience and express it in words?”

Out of that exploration, she created many dances that included text. Peggy then turned her attention to bringing that rich exploration to women who yearned to go into the wilds of their imagination. Peggy has taught this workshop for years for different groups of people from spiritual centers to incarcerated women. Her workshops attract writers and movers and people who just want to explore their creativity.

two dancers standing up leaning on each other.
Tanya Winters (left) and Peggy Lamb (right) dancing together in Peggy’s workshop

In fact, when I Googled “benefits of creative movement for older adults,” I found things like “Older adults who engage in creative activities are strengthening a sense of self that is competent, efficacious, and capable of doing (Fisher & Specht),” and “other research demonstrates that the imagination and creativity of older adults can flourish in later life, helping them to realize unique, unlived potentials.” If that is not soul food, then what is?

One begs to ask, who defines “older adults” 🙂 But I can say that while I have only entered my forties a couple of years ago, I feel that with age I have gained more freedom – freedom from the pressures of what others think about me. I have noticed that I crave spaces where I’m guided to explore my creativity and where there is structure to support that exploration. I have had the privilege to be invited by Peggy to teach Exploring Creativity classes several times at the *Hilltop Unit (Texas Department of Criminal Justice Hilltop Unit) just outside of Gatesville, Texas.  I have witnessed the connection and community that Peggy has created there.

Every time after teaching there I felt so lucky and nourished by these women who so willingly and with motivation would join me in the class I was teaching. I admired their dedication to do things differently than before and trying something new. I was always showered with thank yous from the women even though I felt like I was the one who was thankful for the short time shared together. I feel like this is the power of creative movement. It makes us meet each other in a real way, authentically, truly without judgment. The space becomes use loud with voices that are not something you need to hear.

A group of people dancing in a gymnasium.
Seven dancers in a space that has weights in the background. Some dancers are on a lower level while two dancers are leaning against one another.

Prison is a place where people are identified by their crime. Truth Be Told’s Exploring Creativity workshops give these women a chance to explore their innate creativity and remember they are not just their crime, feel valued for their artistic contributions (as people don’t often identify as artists in this environment) and receive gentle guidance to find their creativity as everyday life inside is filled with rules. You can listen to a podcast DanceCast from 2016, in which Peggy and her colleague Barbara were guests talking about their work with incarcerated women, and you can get a better idea about what that is.

If this is something that you have never done before, but you are even a little bit intrigued by it, you should sign up here.  If you are willing to push your comfort zone a teeny bit but feel unsure about it, Peggy can guide you in a way that is gentle and respectful.

More information about the class:
Poetry of Movement with Peggy Lamb 
Moving Through Writing 

Come play with us as we explore the relationship between the language of words and the language of the body. As we dance the inexpressible, we will come to know the symbolic language of movement and the cellular wisdom that swims through our bodies.

Without judgment or criticism, we will write our lives, our dances, our songs, and our poetry.

Using gentle stretches and movement exercises, we will open our body’s mind to let our words flow.

Previous movement and/or writing experience is NOT required.
This is your chance to discover how delightfully creative you are!

This class meets every Saturday morning from 10-11 AM CT, September 17th through November 5th, 2022 at Body Collective located at 5501 N. Lamar, c111 in Austin. The class is donation-based and limited to 16 participants
                        Poster for Peggy Lamb's movment and writing class. Details found in text above.       Poster for Peggy Lamb's movment and writing class. Details found in text above.

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