A game changing new program made possible by game changing funding
We are thrilled to announce a brand new program, the Artivist Fellowship. made possible by a generous two year grant from the Community ACTS Fund. Artivist Fellows will spend 18 months train ing to become a Reconnect Teaching Artist and Art as Action Ambassador. In addition to being a Reconnect Apprentice and Assistant Teacher, Artivist Fellows will increase representation for “redefining dancer” and “dance for everyBODY” (the AaA mission/brand) as a storyteller and content collector. Artivist Fellows will complete the Dance for PD® teacher training and spend time with the Reconnect dancers to ask questions, listen to stories and embody Reconnect values.
I have long dreamed about how Reconnect with your Body could grow and expand and it became clear that the answer was more humanpower. When I imagined this human, a mentee and collaborator, I always pictured Emma Scher. Emma has performed with AaA since 2016 and from day one became an invaluable member of the Artivist family. This Fall, the planets aligned with this funding and Emma’s availability – it felt meant to be. It is a huge step forward to have Emma on board, and she and I are working together to create this Fellowship as we go so it can be duplicated with future awesome humans. At a time when live performance feels out of reach and it feels like all we can do is tread water, Emma’s energy, enthusiasm and dancer wisdom is an enormous gift to me, the Reconnect dancers and the organization.
yours in Art and Action,
Sarah Leversee, Founder & Artistic Director
a note from Emma
“In a society that worships love, freedom, and beauty, dance is sacred. It is a prayer for the future, a remembrance of the past and a joyful exclamation of thanks for the present.”
– Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
My name is Emma Scher, and I am thrilled to be the recipient of Art as Action’s first Artivist Fellowship where I will be assisting in classes, completing a Dance for PD® training through Mark Morris Dance Group, and developing my own version of Reconnect with Your Body over the next several months.
A few years ago, I was at a place called the Book Bar where an older man in a fedora was reading one of his original poems. His poetry spoke of the healing properties of dance, his “tribe of Reconnect dancers,” and how much they mean to his experience as a person with Parkinson’s. Having studied dance in school, I approached him: Wayne. He invited me to connect with his niece, Sarah, and I was immediately taken by the work she does with Art as Action. I was welcomed into a class and could tell immediately that it was so much more than a dance class. Participants were socializing, engaging their minds and bodies, and creating a shared experience in the spirit of resilience. They were coming together and dancing, despite the relentless grip of neurological complications and other barriers. I have since taken part in the Artivist process and have performed in a few AaA shows. I am beyond humbled and honored to return to this space as an apprentice to learn this modality of teaching and be a part of the necessary support systems that allow for these vital connections, a shared space for coping, and the invitation to be an artist within a community of people with and without Parkinson’s.
I started dancing when I was three and graduated with a bachelor’s in dance from CU Boulder in 2018 with the help of the “Talent and Creativity” scholarship. I have competed as an Irish step dancer at a championship level and attended several dance intensives across the country, from Seattle to Boston. In college, I had the privilege of studying hip hop under Larry Southall and Rennie Harris, two of the most respected hip hop dancers alive. My favorite styles are contemporary, contact improvisation, West African and house.
Previously, I worked as a teaching artist at Colorado Ballet for children with Down syndrome, ASD (autism spectrum disorder), and other intellectual/ developmental disabilities. I am interested in maintaining meaningful relationships with people who experience different developmental, behavioral, and neurological processes than me. I believe dance is an art form that should be made accessible to every person, and I enjoy modifying, adapting, and offering choices to dancers to meet their needs. Thank you for welcoming me into this community with open arms; I cannot wait to dance with you all soon.
Game Changing Grant
AaA awarded 2 year grant from Community ACTS Fund
About the Community ACTS Fund
In 2018, Mile High United Way was selected to manage the Community ACTS Fund to support arts, culture and science organizations funded through the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). We know that communities thrive when arts and cultural experiences are available to everyone. The Fund was created in 2016 with direction from members of the State Legislature during the reauthorization process for the SCFD. The Fund is governed by an advisory council and will build capacity for smaller arts, culture and science organizations, particularly those that serve and/or represent historically underserved communities. The Fund will be supported by annual contributions from the five largest SCFD funded organizations – Denver Art Museum, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and Denver Zoo. These organizations are committed to supporting the fund for 12 years.
As part of the HB21-1285: Funding to Support Creative Arts Funding Bill, the Community ACTS Fund (administered by Mile High United Way) received an additional $1.5 million in 2021 to invest in Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD)-funded Tier III organizations led by and/or serving historically marginalized communities.
From the Archives
“why walk when you can fly?
This uplifting duet is from our 2019 show the moving project. It features beloved company member Carol Cowley and Artivist Fellow Emma Scher.