On Friday, Oct. 18, 2019, four seniors from Saint Mary’s Orchesis Dance Theatre traveled with Saint Mary’s adjunct dance teacher and Black Box Dance Theatre Artistic Director Michelle Pearson to a USO Warrior Reset workshop providing leadership and resiliency training for active duty service men and women.
The Warrior Reset program gives “service members hands-on training to become a leader in building a unit’s overall resiliency. The tools provided…help [members] and their peers meet the challenges associated with today’s military lifestyle.”
An opportunity for Saint Mary’s students to gain real-world experience through connecting with their wider community, the Saint Mary’s Orchesis seniors worked beside dancers from Black Box Dance Theatre during a two-hour session that used art and movement to teach participants “techniques for skillfully and respectfully eliciting stories, reading non-verbal cues, and unearthing multiple meanings for both listener and teller.” The students and participants were led through movement structures and partnering exercises to create original dance works. Black Box Dance Theatre describes the experience of dance like this as being “far from just a movement routine. Rather, it offers a body of methods and knowledge for staying intellectually and socially engaged, emotionally and spiritually nourished, and physically empowered.”
Here’s what the Orchesis seniors had to share about the experience:
Kate Eagles ’20: The Warrior Reset Project was such an amazing opportunity. We assisted Black Box with different exercises presented to the warriors and the experience helped me gain a deeper knowledge of what these active duty service members do.
J’Lah Johnson ’20: Assisting Black Box Dance Theatre during the Warrior Reset was an amazing, eye-opening experience. I was able to draw connections and relate to experiences with active duty members, which is something I never imagined doing. I stepped out of my comfort zone along with many others and was able to witness a healing and expressive experience using modern dance.
Ashley White ’20: I’ve never done anything like the Warrior Reset workshop and it was really interesting to meet the different people, especially because many of them were only a few years older than me. It was very rewarding because after the workshop, some participants became more open to using modern dance as a tool for building resiliency and leadership.
Frances Williams ’20: Joining Black Box at the USO’s Warrior Reset workshop was an unreal experience. We met incredible people with the most interesting backgrounds. It was so rewarding that every person in the room at some point was completely out of their comfort zone. Black Box Dance Theatre does the most inspiring and impactful work. I believe everyone in that room was changed in some way as they left the building.