“Do something you’ve never done before,” said Kathy Wood to an impromptu circle of WiVLA dancers after her program.  We took turns moving into the center of the circle, moving to the music in new and personal ways.  Dancing inside a circle of friends was a new experience for some of us – plus coming up with some smooth moves!

Certainly I’ve never danced in the middle of a circle of my peers.  (Kindergarten teacher dancing with her kids doesn’t count.)  And we celebrated each others’ responses to the music, our willingness to take a chance, and our responses to the program Kathy had just given about her hip-hop journey with the dance troupe, Fly.

WiVLA has been that elbow in the ribs for me.  It pushes me to do something I’ve not done before.  I had to learn how to enter a visual arts show.  Dangling a prompt in front of me, WiVLA encouraged me to write for a literary reading.  Joining with someone I didn’t know to work together on a project for a collaboration show.

When I first came to WiVLA, I was an inch-high “I think I might be a poet.”  Through the opportunities that our organization provides and my own pursuing of opportunities, I have learned to call myself a poet, a writer, and an artist.  I remember my fear during an evening meeting when a new collaboration show had been discussed.  I didn’t know anyone, I barely knew my own media.  Then someone sat down next to me and asked, “Would you like to collaborate with me and my friend?”  Gulp.  “Yes!”  I will always thank her for her welcome offer and our wonderful time together creating our altered book.

All of that was “doing something that you’ve never done before.”  Thank you Kathy Wood for reminding us that art pushes boundaries and allows us to step out of our ordinary into the extraordinary.  Art - written, visual, or performance - gives us the opportunity to rise above our uncomfortable trepidation and create something solid and meaningful.  WiVLA is your partner in this journey.

Cori Austin

"An ekphrastic poem is like a jolt of electricity surging through a work of art."
- Patricia Smith, ARTLines2

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