Sunday, October 23, 2016

Light Gets In: A Workshop with Leah Mann

LIGHT GETS IN with LEAH MANN. The Mask Center, Little 5 Points Community Center, October 2016. (photo by Ruth Schowalter).
Ring the bells that still ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.
-Leonard Cohen

Written by Ruth Schowalter, Certified InterPlay Leader
On Friday, October 21, metro-Atlanta folks were invited to spend two hours with international performer and InterPlayer Leah Mann to explore the “cracks” in their lives—inside and out—and to examine “pathways of light” coming through to heal those fissures.

Hosted by InterPlay Atlanta at the Mask Center in the Little Five Points Community Center, Leah used the container of InterPlay as a way to launch a group of a dozen participants into investigations about their lives and the wider world in the workshop, “Light Gets In.”

In the first hour, Leah led us gently and incrementally in warming up our bodies and voices. Along with using the “primary colors” of movement—thrust, swing, hang, and shape—we were offered the opportunity to reflect on our emotions and situations in our lives associated with these movements. Leah explains, “I combined some of the ideas of Julie Motz, reiki master and author, about where emotions flow or are held in the body.”

Following this deep investigation into our bodies and spirits through movement, we then found ourselves making a community sound standing around in a circle, with some participants creating new sounds while others became historians repeating rhythms or words offered by others.

In the second hour of our workshop, with thoroughly warmed up bodies and voices and after connecting with one another, Leah guided us into making inquiries and collecting data about ourselves, our communities, and the world on the complicated theme of “systemic shatterings.” In word, sound, and movement, we explored our “groan zones” and “shatter zones.” We created a “scar inventory” and played around with “sitting in my discomfort.”
SHATTERINGS & THE CONCEPT OF "KITSUGI". In pairs, we told organic stories about things in our lives that remained broken or had been repaired (photo by Ruth Schowalter).
SCAR INVENTORY. With a witness, each of us had an opportunity to dance with our scars (photo by Ruth Schowalter).
SITTING IN MY DISCOMFORT. Leah invited us to "sit in our discomfort," explaining that it is important to be patient and to be awake for the next right step as we awaken to systems in the world that are breaking down and need to be dismantled (photo by Ruth Schowalter).
During our “babbling” or “short telling” sequence, many of us gratefully received Leah’s offering of the concept of the Japanese art form of “kitsugi” (mending pottery with gold) as metaphor for healing that which has been broken. The broken vessel is not only stronger but also has more value.

Two hours were too short to travel this trajectory of “shatterings” in relationship to our personal experiences and current events. I wonder what other discoveries I would have made had we been able to spend a third hour together! What stories might I have heard from other participants or would I have shared of my own. Leah expressed her thoughts on this: “It was just two hours. I think a minimum for this sort of exploration could be three hours or longer. A ‘walk about’ on a theme like this could have taken more than an hour.”
LIGHT GETS IN PARTICIPANTS WITH LEAH MANN. (photo by anonymous workshop participant)
There is mystery in movement, voice, story, and shape and stillness. Leah Mann is a magician, a genius, and a gentle guiding force—one who can create the container for play, insight, and healing to occur. Thank you Leah for this offering to the InterPlay Atlanta community and metro-Atlanta area. I hope you will return and spend more time with us on this theme, “Light Gets In.” It is important work!

“InterPlay has been a huge part of my personal development work as an activist, artist and human being. The system is a powerful platform for deep inquiry.” –Leah Mann

About Leah Mann: Leah lives in Vashon, Washington, but has strong ties to Atlanta, having moved here after her father retired from the Army. She returns regularly to visit her mother, who lives in College Park and to continue her work as the co-founder and artistic director emeritus of the urban outreach program, Moving in the Spirit. Leah now co-directs Lelavision Physical Music. With her partner Ela Lamblin, she tours internationally, performing a hybrid genre combining kinetic music inventions animated through music and dance in simultaneity. She teaches movement, rhythm and instrument making from ordinary objects with a wide variety of populations from a base of improvisation informed primarily by the InterPlay technique. Check out her website:

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