Community group celebrates togetherness through movement, dance

Shebang Workshop

Community group celebrates togetherness through movement, dance

By Hollie Pratt-Campbell



“Not so old anymore.”

Those are some of the words participants in Andrea Nann’s Whole Shebang community workshop used to describe how they felt after spending an evening mindfully moving and connecting as a group through a variety of exercises. The workshop took place May 30, 2014 at the Baby Grand Theatre.

“It’s really to explore how we can first understand boundaries and thresholds and move through them so that we can connect,” Nann said of the exercises, which included mirroring a partner’s movements, walking and freezing as a group and collectively counting as high as possible without two people saying a number at the same time. “It’s about developing consciousness, awareness - tuning in to yourself but also to your relationship with others and the things that are going on around you.”

Nann is artistic director of the Toronto-based Dreamwalker Dance Company. She created The Whole Shebang program as a way to help artists and non-artists connect with one another through movement and dance. The May 30 session was a small taste of what Nann has been working on for the past year with a group of artists called The Kingston Shebang; all are representatives of Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning member organizations, and the idea of the workshop is to contribute to the positive, collaborative spirit the new centre embodies.

“Because the entire project is really centred on the community, we wanted to make sure that every step along the way there were workshops that were available so that anyone in the community who wanted to come and see what this is about [and give them] the opportunity to really come and experience it and understand for themselves,” said City of Kingston Dance Engagement Coordinator Melissa Mahady Wilton.

Indeed, the community members who participated, many of whom were not artists, said that the workshop was a very creative and mind-opening experience.

Gisele Pharand said she knew she had to take the workshop when she heard who was running it.

“When I saw Andrea Nann’s name I thought ‘I have to go’ because I’d seen her do other things and I knew it would be fabulous. Whatever it was, I was going to be there.”

And Nann didn’t disappoint.

“She’s got a wonderful smooth, calm voice so it was always easy to pay attention and do the exercises,” Pharand said.

Laura Cameron was delighted to find her “inner bird.”

“It’s the amazing perception one can have from getting beyond one’s own breath and energy,” she said. “[Andrea] taught us to tangibly feel the others in the room. We really felt it. It was so there. It was all about appreciating the beauty of everyone around and the humour of people’s movements.”

Mahady Wilton explained that the City has done several workshops of this nature, which have been warmly embraced by participants from all walks of life.

“It’s a really wonderful, enriching experience. Anybody who’s been engaged in it has really enjoyed it so far. I’m very much looking forward to unfolding [it to] the entire community and really celebrating that.”

Nann said she’s been happy to see members of the broader community are participating in the Shebang workshops, as this will make them better prepared for what they will see at the Whole Shebang, the Tett Centre for Creativity & Learning's Grand Opening, on January 31 from 1-3:30 pm.

“The more familiar people become with the reasons why we’re doing this and the way we’re doing this, the more the impact will just ripple through the community.”