Jubilation Fellow Alana Shaw

Alana Shaw

Performance Artist
Boulder CO
Fellowship: 2016

“My work is participatory, experiential, and long-term,” says Alana. “I believe that everyone has a gift to share, and if you are accepted for who you are right from the beginning, that gift will emerge.”

Alana has facilitated joyful and healing movement events in cities across North America for more than 30 years. Her dynamic and energetic presentation style is both humorous and transforming, and consistently positive and uplifting.

In 1989 she founded Turning the Wheel, which is dedicated to helping young people recover their self-esteem and find their gifts. She is also the author of Dancing Our Way Home, which she describes as “a book of exercises, stories, and wisdom for bringing art and movement to any community.”

TTW has touched the lives of more than 100,000 people in 15 cities, and more than 1000 schools and organizations. “Everything we do  is an attempt to come back into relationship with our interdependence as human beings, and with the need for love, not power, to form the basis for how we live on the earth,” she says.

Teaching philosophy:
“We are passionately committed to building and sustaining communities that are inclusive of all people, and that reach for and model unconditional love and acceptance.

“As they learn to trust their bodies, their ideas, and their creativity, each child builds her self-esteem, trusts his leadership skills, and discovers his/her special story within the family and community.”

How do you produce a vibrant learning environment?
“Our interactive residencies are primarily in schools. We start with simple, playful exercises that build over time into a final performance for peers, family, and community.

“Over the course of our weeks together, kids become discover the pleasure of movement, theater, themselves, and each other. They have a chance to be seen, and take risks in a safe and supportive environment.”

How do you foster youth leadership?
“The movement forms we use have leadership experiences built into them so that all participants get a chance to lead, to immerse themselves in fun new ways to think creatively, and to be seen. We also have a teen mentorship program where they are trained, and gain supervised work experience in schools and community centers. This ongoing career development culminates in paid professional facilitation positions. In addition, we offer scholarships for teens to attend the summer retreat.”

How have you evolved as a teacher?
“The most important thing I have learned is the power of ‘Yes.’ Watching the kids in the room, seeing what is working for them, and following their impulses creates a positive learning environment that is almost instantly transforming. Also, I’ve moved from developing the work for youth, to developing training programs for teachers and caregivers of youth.”

What is an example of a good day?
“A good day is when I see kids laughing and smiling and participating fully in the games, connecting with each other and taking risks.

“A good day is watching teens create a movement performance piece, working together in teams.

“A good day is getting to witness the power of movement and rhythm to build community, to enhance self­-esteem, and to rewire the brain for innovative thinking.

“A good day is watching kids bloom right before my eyes as they move and play in a loving and supportive environment.”

Link: http://www.turningthewheel.org

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