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NewsApr 26, 2017

Music and dance piece tackles 'Alternative Facts'

Annual Arts in Healthcare Conference addresses anxiety in today's political climate

"Alternative Facts"

In response to today’s charged political and social atmosphere, Lesley University music therapy professor Rebecca Zarate and dance therapy professor Nancy Beardall are using the arts to explore everyday anxieties through a new composition called, "Alternative Facts."

The faculty and their graduate students, along with dancers from and LIFEForce Dance Company will debut a performance of the mixed-media piece on Friday, April 28 at Lesley University’s 8th annual Arts in Healthcare Conference, which this year will focus on using arts-based tools to respond to anxiety and build community resilience.

The "Alternative Facts" piece and concept of collective and cultural anxiety stem from Dr. Zarate’s framework, the social architecture of anxiety. Dr. Zarate composed the piece.

"Through a series of improvisation labs with graduate music therapy and dance/movement therapy students, reactions of concern were explored around controversial political and social narratives, which emerged after the U.S. presidential inauguration," says Dr. Zarate, a musician, composer, arts researcher and music therapist. "Using a critical social approach to clinical improvisation, We worked on spotlighting the musical motifs representative of anxiety symptoms which were integrated into a piece with three movements Onset, Moral Compass and Retreat-Resource-Resilience."

Also during the all-day conference, dance therapy professor Vivien Marcow Speiser and her students will perform a movement piece to poetry, music and photography focusing on refugees, and art therapy professor Kelvin Ramirez will facilitate a group artistic response.

The Arts in Healthcare conference will feature a range of artists, educators and clinicians examining the complex anxieties that individuals and communities are facing in the current social and political landscape. Their goal is to create artistic responses that elicit hope and healing.

The conference is in Washburn Auditorium on Lesley’s Brattle Campus, 10 Phillips Place, Cambridge, and runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is $45 for the public.

Other conference presentations include:

  • University Professor Shaun McNiff, founder of Lesley’s Expressive Therapies Program, will discuss the unique power of the arts to infuse individuals and communities with creative energy and transform afflictions and discontents into affirmations of life and community.
  • Drama therapy professor Nisha Sajnani will engage the group in sociometric and sociodramatic experiential activities.
  • Photographer and Lesley alumnus Mario Quiroz will discuss his photography projects about immigrant experiences.
  • Rebecca Strauss, founding music director of the Riverview Chamber Players, and Expressive Arts Therapy professor Mitchell Kossak will lead the group through a musical, mindful and artistic exercise for hope and healing.