Churchill Fellow 2014



Last February I found out that I had been successful in my lengthy and extensive application process, and very firmly and gently found myself a 2014 Churchill Fellow. In my interview, the final question to me was to find one word inspired by Winston Churchill. Without hesitation I replied “generosity”. On the eve of my journey & adventures, I haven’t lost the fullness of gratitude and excitement over this chance to travel in singular and wide pursuit of a subject, field and practice I love. I will be travelling to three cities in the States to find out how three hospitals use the Arts in their Wellness programs, and in particular how they employ movement and dance in their investment in older people’s well being and health. Along the way I will be meeting many practitioners – dancers and teachers, artists and neuroscientists, community workers and doctors, working across the arts, dance, health and community. To find out more about this extraordinary organisation, follow this link:

How can we resource our bodies in all stages of health and all stages of age so that we can understand, invest in, enjoy and celebrate our selves, so we ensure we can express ourselves fully and richly, so we can source narratives of who we are? How can we dance playfully and creatively alongside other people – friends, family members, our communities and the people who look after us in our more fragile and frail states? How do we facilitate dance and movement in integrated and inclusive ways, dispelling isolation, and notions of difference and otherness?

Movement and dance is about making connections – with ourselves, with our environment, and with others. It is a vital and nourishing part of being human.

I guess I will be sharing here, as often as feels right, my attempts to map the myriad experiences, impressions, thoughts and insights harvested from all the encounters heading my way.

I was determined to find an image of Churhcill dancing – I have no doubt he did – but clearly dancing must have been a private matter. I like this portrait of him sat in full majesty at his easel, dabbing at his emerging landscape. There are so many Churchill quotes, I’ll let the picture speak for itself…

…instead, absolute favourite words from Mary Oliver, words perfect for the beginning of any journey:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

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