News from Brock University
Posted October 21st, 2016 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – It can be a lonely, frustrating experience for thousands of agricultural workers in Niagara and across Canada.
Brock University graduate student Heryka Miranda and her supervisor, Nancy Francis, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology, are researching methods that migrant farm workers can use to address feelings of homesickness and isolation.
The theory behind Miranda’s methods is called “movement-based expressive arts therapy.”
“Expressive arts therapy includes song, music, dance, visual arts, voice work, knitting; it could be any kind of artistic modality for the purposes of healing,” says Miranda.
“Movement is a very unconscious, subliminal mode of communication and because of that, we will feel things, emotions, that we might have otherwise parked or pushed aside,” says Francis.
Mexican and Guatemalan women and men across Niagara attended Miranda’s “dance for relaxation” sessions, where they participated in breathing exercises, guided visualizations, improvised movement to music and engaged in meditative drawing.
Miranda is studying what these activities mean to the workers and assessing how these activates impact the workers’ lives. She hopes to develop programs that will increase migrant workers’ quality of life in Niagara and build bridges between them and the wider community.
Juan Luis Mendoza de la Cruz, one of Miranda’s research partners, is a worker from Mexico employed on a flower farm.
Mendoza and Miranda have developed a dance that draws upon techniques from Indigenous choreographers and artists in the U.S. and Canada. The two perform periodically for the community.
“This (the dancing) is comforting for me, since it gives me light and motivation to follow my life projects, such as working with sunflowers, flowers that have been an inspiration to me all my life,” says Mendoza.
Miranda and Mendoza will be performing their dance, The Sunflower Man, on Parliament Hill Wednesday, Oct. 26. Media and the community are invited to watch their rehearsal in the dance studio of Walker Complex, Brock University on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 3 p.m.
See more about the story in The Brock News
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