Katherine and Tessa at the Hilltop YMCA

Lead Deviser: Katherine Moore is currently a Graduate Teaching Associate at Ohio State University pursuing her MFA in Dance. Before moving to Columbus, Katherine worked professionally in New York City as a freelance choreographer, dancer, teacher, arts administrator, and writer. Recipient of a University Fellowship from OSU, she holds a BA in Dance from Hope College with minor concentrations in French and Communication. She is also a registered Vinyasa yoga teacher through the Perri Institute for Mind and Body.

Co-Deviser: Tessa Jacobs is a Ph.D. student in the Department of English with a specialization in folklore and the graduate administrative assistant for Environmental Humanities. Her research interests include family folklore, counter-cultural performance and festival in California, and the intersections of environmental humanities and folklore studies. Her current research explores the cultural dimensions of drought and fire in Southern California. She holds a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Culture from Scripps College, and a M.A. in English from Ohio State University.

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Since the Fall of 2017, Katherine and Tessa have been working once a week with a group of seniors at the Hilltop YMCA. Katherine explains that they have, “been exploring modes of individual and community expression through movement and storytelling. My background is in dance, and Tessa’s research is in folklore (although she has significant dance experience, as well), so we wanted to focus on stories that the body can tell, both through movement and voice. We’ve used storytelling primarily as a community-building technique, but also as a generative tool to creative movement.” Each of the groups in the Be the Street Project represent different parts of the community, bringing their own unique ideas, stories, and experiences. Katherine explains the group’s creative process: “I think the through-line that has emerged throughout our workshops is that, regardless of age or ability, movement can be a poignant and almost magical way of tapping into people’s creativity, and we’ve seen firsthand how creative energy and ingenuity can bring people and communities closer together. We improvise most of what do, so we’re making stuff up on the spot, and I think the sense of risk that comes along with improvisation helps people surprise themselves and bond as a group.” And she concludes, “ultimately, we just want everyone to leave feeling happy and a bit more inspired than when they came in.”

When asked the question: What have you learned about the hilltop community? Katherine revealed: “I’ve learned that the Hilltop is quite diverse in terms of its people and interests. The participants in my group are definitely committed to the Hilltop and are quite active in community, church, and family events. They’ve shared so much of themselves and who they are throughout our time together, and I’ve even learned that are beautiful walking trails and eagles in the Hilltop! This project has been a good reminder that we don’t have to travel to far-flung destinations in order to find interesting and powerful ways of engaging with people and the environment.”

Our Community Partner: The Hilltop YMCA (2879 Valleyview Drive Columbus, OH 43204) is a community center with swimming, gym, weights, child care and classes. It is part of the national network of the Young Men’s Christian Association. In their own words: “We’re an inclusive organization of men, women and children joined together by a shared commitment to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility.” (http://www.ymcacolumbus.org/hilltop/about)

Post created and photos of YMCA workshop by Josh Truett.