A lot has been researched and written about the power of the arts in promoting healing and well-being. Local dance maker Gia T. Cacalano is a believer in that power.
“I am very much immersed in educating many different populations through the vehicle of art as a method of healing,” says Cacalano. Her latest effort in bringing art’s healing power to the masses is Somatic Automatic: an interactive public performance, February 22 and 23 at the Cultural Trust’s 937 Gallery.
A co-collaboration with area visual artist, performer and educator Oreen Cohen, Cacalano is taking a page from her own creative processes in creating improvisational dance works and translating them into something Somatic Automatic’s audiences can be a part of. Known for her “instant composition” dance works created in the moment, Cacalano says she incorporates in the creation of those compositions methodologies learned in training with a Body-Mind Centering and somatic educator. Having already used these methodologies in her work as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, a resident teaching artist at La Roche College’s Dance Department and in working with senior groups, Cacalano says she wanted to create a vehicle to bring this to the general public.
For the hour-long Somatic Automatic, audience members (who choose to participate) will first be guided through somatic movement meditations and sketching exercises. That will be followed by a performance by Cacalano and Cohen inspired in-part by those exercises. In it, Cohen will react to Cacalano’s instant composition dancing and create her own large-scale charcoal drawings in real time. As part of her drawing process Cohen will also act as performer throwing her body into sweeping motion.
The soundtrack for the performance will also be an instant creation coming from microphones placed throughout the space that will pick ambient sound that Cacalano and Cohen will respond and perform to.
Cacalano and Cohen see Somatic Automatic as a trial balloon they hope will take off and lead to the program being repeated in other communities. Limited to 50 audience members/participants per showing, the intimate and inclusive performance says Cacalano will “remove that imaginary boundary between public and performer so the dialogue between both becomes more pronounced.”