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kia smith // Teacher
IDOCs » 2016 Symposium Reflection
This my reflection of the 2016 IDOCDE symposium, and how it has allowed me to push my limits as a contemporary dance instructor.

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This year’s IDOCDE Symposium is something I will always remember. I attended lectures covering topics such as somatic generosity, inclusive dance, fascia and its influence on movement, and the risks one should take as a choreographer in the twenty first century. However the most memorable was a lecture by Benno Voorham called “Project Home”.

Voorham’s most recent project took place with a group of children in Georgia who suffered tremendous displacement as a result of the ethnic cleansing of people during the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict of 1992.

During various interviews, the children spoke about what home means to them. One boy’s comment was that home was a place where he “belonged” and felt “needed”. Other children mentioned various colors that made them feel at home. Project participants learned different ways to relate to themselves, one another as well as life outside of their current situations. They also gained self confidence in being exposed to new skills and being able to successfully learn and support them. The project culminated with the children creating and touring an evening length work.

I currently run an after school dance program in the Chicago Public School system, where many of the children are also marginalized. Generally, I teach a set technique class, choreography, and it culminates in a performance at the end of the term.

Voorham’s Project Home has inspired me to take a slightly different approach. While it is important that I teach dance technique, it’s also important that I give my students a voice of their own. The city of Chicago is plagued with socio-economic disparity, and racial injustice. It is a breeding ground for police brutality, and an environment where Black and Brown children do not feel at home.

This school year, I will teach technique classes three days a week, and on the fourth day students will have the opportunity to work on their own class project entitled “Who Am I”. As a culture we allow the media to dictate to us who we are, what behaviors are appropriate, and what success looks like. This way of developing one’s identity is one that I have always strongly disagreed with.

Most of my children are between the ages of five and twelve and who they will become is largely based on how they view themselves now. “Who Am I” will challenge the children to think about who they are, who they want to be, and what kinds of things they can be doing to work towards these accomplishments even at a young age. "Who Am I"  will culminate with a piece of choreography made by the class and be performed at their end of the session showcase alongside the traditional dance pieces

As a member of IDOCDE, i will document the entire project with pictures, video as well as short blurbs about our process throughout the year. I am so thankful to Defne, and the entire leadership team for allowing me the opportunity to be a documenter, and I look forward to posting over the next few months.

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Defne Erdur Eligible Member // Teacher
Dear Kia, we are very much looking forward to your further sharing on this project. It is a pleasure to witness how our sharings during the symposium pays forward and more and more beautiful ideas get to be shared and "re-created"... If you need any kind of support we - all idocde teachers - are here to give a hand, a thoght, an idea, an inspiration... Be well and keep it up! Enjoy the ride...

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Laura Rios // Teacher
Kia, I read your project. Is beautiful Thanks for sharing, I hope I can follow it. More and more I teach I believe that empowering ourselves, human beings, is the key.

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