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Our Creative Society

The Arts + Wellbeing. Illuminating Ways to Thrive.

February 1, 2014 | 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
The Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center

We’ve gathered an exceptional group of people together to explore the role of the arts and creativity in human health and wellbeing -- from personal wellbeing to the health of our communities. The day will feature presentations, panels and workshops that explore the theme of Art + Wellbeing from different perspectives, from the profoundly personal to the healing powers of the collective.

Featuring opening workshop and presentation with David Leventhal, Program Director for Dance for PD®.

Free and open to the public.

Day of Ideas Program Information & Schedule

Time Location Activity/Session Moderator/Speaker & Participants
9 a.m.

Playhouse Lobby

Coffee & Pastries

Start the day with complimentary coffee and pastries

9:30 a.m.

Playhouse Main Stage

Welcome and Opening Thoughts

Philosopher Douglas Dempster will open the Day of Ideas with thoughts on how creativity and artistic practice are an increasingly important forum for exploring the human condition from a palliative perspective

Douglas Dempster
Dean of the College of Fine Arts University of Texas at Austin

9:45 a.m.

Playhouse Main Stage

The Art of Wellness: Dance for Parkinson’s Workshop & Presentation

An exceptional and unique partnership between the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group has developed an innovative and celebrated program – Dance for PD®. Dance for PD® is an international program that brings trained dancers and movement specialists together with persons with Parkinson’s (and other neurological conditions) to enjoy dance and the ways in which balance, sequencing, rhythm and aesthetic awareness can be useful to them. David Leventhal, founding teacher and Program Director for Dance for PD®, will present some of the remarkable insights and results of this program as well as share some of the movement practices that define the program.

David Leventhal
Dance for PD® Program Director

10:30 a.m.

Playhouse Main Stage

Personal Odyssey: Mother for you I made this

Cornish alum Ezra Dickinson is a force of nature. As a contemporary dancer, his technical prowess is matched by an intensity that emanates from the stage, reflecting a deep, creative intelligence. Part performance and part activism, Ezra’s Mother for you I made this is aimed at activating a conversation about the failed mental health care system in America through memories of Dickinson’s childhood as he lived with and unknowingly cared for his schizophrenic mother.

This piece premiered at Velocity Dance Center’s Made in Seattle program in the spring of 2013. The hour-long, site-specific solo is built from a series of performances Ezra made as gifts for his mother over a seven-year period. He will present a brief excerpt of the video of this exceptional work, as performed on the streets of Seattle. He will then present a solo from this piece followed by a brief Q&A moderated by Velocity Dance Center’s Tonya Lockyer.

Tonya Lockyer
Executive Director, Velocity Dance Center

Ezra Dickinson (DA ’07)

11 a.m. Break 15 Mintue Break
11:15 a.m.
Session A

Playhouse Main Stage

Arts + Wellbeing: Panel Discussion

From the walls of hospitals to the pages of a book, the ways in which art can illuminate and palliate the human condition are remarkable and often overlooked. Beyond the cultural value of art, creativity and creative expression are essential to our personal and social wellbeing. From spiritual restoration to physical healing, the ways in which art serves as a source of restoration and wellness is profound. This panel, guided by author and family counselor Eli Hastings, will discuss the ways in which their individual and professional engagement with art and artists provides venues for wellbeing.

Eli Hastings
Author and Family Counselor

Holly Jacobson
Executive Director, Path with Art

David Leventhal
Program Director, Dance for PD®

Peggy Weiss
Art Program Manager,
UW Medicine/Harborview Medical Center

11:15 a.m.
Session B

Playhouse Founder’s Room

Global Arts, Education & Self-Empowerment: PLAY-ACTIVE Panel Discussion

Play-Active is an experimental media literacy workshop. It uses cross-cultural dialogue, conceptual design and play to explore how ideas are formed and used in the creative process. This workshop has been held in 2013 at the Kathmandu University School of Art in Nepal, Tecnológico de Monterrey in Guadalajara, Mexico, the Center for Living Arts in Mobile, Alabama, and the California Institute of the Arts

This panel, guided by Tom Leeser with participants from Nepal and CalArts, will address concept design, media literacy and global arts education by examining methods of cross-cultural and political self-empowerment. In this context we will frame self-empowerment as a method healing and wellbeing for the individual and for our networked body politic. The panel will focus on the participants’ interdisciplinary practices and their role as artists and educators in context to forming a global educational activism.

Harnessing the human potential in media education needs to be considered along with introducing new technologies and developing new digital infrastructures. When we speak about cultural development in a global economy, we need to insure that culture should be nurtured regionally and locally driven, not merely imported from an outside source.

Workshop Background

The Play:Active workshops synthesize play and design into unexpected systems and alternative methods for digital arts education. We examine new technologies, architectural and natural space, the body, agency and performance. We ask the question: “What are cross-cultural methods of creating learning and research and how do these methods allow for the nurturing and expansion of the student’s understanding of technology, communication and art making?”

The project’s initial stages began with the idea of a workshop in the form of a curatorial project. I was interested in curating a group of artists and their artist assignments used in classes at CalArts; then applying their methods and techniques to an international context. The workshop expanded upon this initial idea by developing dialogues around play, labor, education, media and social activism. I ran prototypes of the current workshop at the Shree Mangal Dvip School in Kathmandu, Nepal starting in 2006 and then at the Kathmandu University’s Art School – Center for Art and Design in 2012 with Sujan Chitraker and Tyler Calkin.

During my time in Nepal I have also worked with Shirley Blair, Director of the Shree Mangal Dvip School and faculty member, Pema Norbu along with Los Angeles based musician and performer Robin Sukhadia and author and poet, Neelanjana Banerjee. These projects were initially funded with the help of Angela Absher, the Himalayan Children’s Fund and the CalArts Faculty Development Fund.

– Tom Leeser, 2014

Tom Leeser
Program Director of the Art and Technology Program and Director of the Center for Integrated Media, California Institute of the Arts

Tyler Calkin
Interdisciplinary Artist

Sujan Chitraker
Artist & Educator

Ashmina Ranjit

11:15 a.m.
Session C

Playhouse Studio

From the Stage: Special Workshop with Operating Theater

Family secrets-- we all have them. Even the closest families can become dysfunctional when they begin to dredge up the past. Operating Theater comprises Cornish faculty members Kate Myre, Lisa Norman and Ellen Boyle who will conduct a workshop that examines how art and popular culture deal with fractured family dynamics. The workshop includes an excerpt from their recent collaboration on Shelagh Stephenson's play, The Memory of Water. Participants will actively engage with the artists through guided conversations and a group discussion.

Ellen Boyle
Actor & Associate Professor,
Theater Department

Kate Myre
Actor & Associate Professor,
Theater Department

Lisa Norman
Actor & Associate Professor,
Theater Department

12:15 p.m.

Playhouse Lobby

Complimentary Lunch & Closing Program


12:30 p.m.

Playhouse Lobby

Special Performance: Word of Mouth – Cornish Story Slam

There are many kinds of performance, but one of the most primal and compelling is the simple art of one person telling a really good story. Word of Mouth employs the format pioneered by The Moth: Prepare a 5 minute story about a life-changing experience, a moment of revelation or enlightenment. A story where you faced a conflict, a challenge, an unexpected encounter with fate or random chance. This should be a true story, although we expect and even encourage a little editing and embroidering of events if need be to make it colorful, and dramatic. Featuring stories from Cornish faculty, students and alumni.

1 p.m.

Playhouse Lobby

Closing Thoughts

Douglas Dempster
Dean of the College of Fine Arts
University of Texas at Austin


This event is free and open to the public.

This event will take place Saturday, February 1, 2014, 9:00 a.m. Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, 201 Mercer Street Seattle, WA 98109