Dearest Home Workshops: A.I.M

Organization Name: A.I.M

City: New York

Program Name: Dearest Home Workshops

Time of Program: Mornings, afternoons, and evenings.

Program Length: Workshops are roughly 3 hours, participants are offered discounted (in some cases free) tickets to the performance (just over an hour), and the follow-up discussion is 1-2 hours.

Program When Elaborate: Workshops occur prior to the performance and there is a follow-up discussion with food and beverage following the performance.

Goal: a. By combining LGBTQ seniors and teens, or differing LGBTQ socio-economic groups, we hope to build bridges of understanding and foster a multi-generational mentorship. b. Moving forward, we would like to give our dancers the full autonomy to lead the workshops, so we must provide them with training to facilitate the discussion. Incorporating our dancers as key leaders in our engagement efforts will allow us to conduct workshops when Mr. Abraham is not on tour with the company. c. Keep the subject matter (love, longing, & loss) and the movement fresh for our dancers to continue the discovery process well after the work has premiered. d. Foster personal engagement through one-on-one outreach.

Time of Year Offered: Throughout the touring season.

Program Description:

We refined a workshop program used in the development of our work, DEAREST HOME (DH) whose subject matter is love, longing, and loss. For DH tours we created workshops, led by our dancers, that engaged members of the LGBTQ community through a rhizomatic approach by inviting them into DH’s subject matter through multiple artistic entryways: dialogue, movement, writing, music, and visual arts. One notable workshop activity is called “Mapping Monuments:” participants are guided through a visualization where they identify significant moments in their lives. They then process these memories creatively, draw maps on vellum or acetate paper, and create movement phrases from these maps. Going further, maps of two people are superimposed on one another and the participants create movement-based duets and conversations centered on and around the points of intersection. Other activities include typing love letters on vintage typewriters, writing love letters by-hand, & fashioning love mix-tapes and breakup playlists by using songs associated with the subject matter. 15-20 workshop participants are initially seated in a circle. Like the work itself, which is composed of a series of solos, duets, and trios, during the course of the workshop, participants are split into small groups of 3 and 4 in order to further the theme of intimacy.
In addition, we offered all workshop participants discounted (sometimes free) tickets to a performance of DH and a “morning after” informal brunch discussion which was attended by the entire company. On some occasions the brunch discussions were held immediately following the performance, since it proved logistically difficult to get workshop participants to commit to three days of activities.

Number of Participants: 15-20 people participate in each workshop.

Target Audience: The LGBTQ Community, and more specifically, a wide range of the different age and socioeconomic members of that community.

Is the program for kids? N/A

Private/Public Public

Nature of Audience Engagement: Listen - watch - move - ask questions - write - socialize with one another and with our dancers - eat and drink - converse informally among themselves and with the artists - provide written responses to surveys.

Location: Space was either rented or provided by presenters for our workshops and "morning after" discussions. Performances of DH take place in an intimate setting, in the round, for audiences of 99-200.

How Many Staff: Our Artistic Director conceived of and created the workshops. He took part in training our dancers to conduct them without him being present. Our General Manager oversaw the logistics of reaching out to presenters, advertising to program at the various locations, finding and renting space, purchasing and renting supplies, pretty much all of the prep work. Six dancers participated in leading the workshops. Two dancers per workshop.

Program Cost: Dancers were paid an additional $350 salary on top of their weekly salaries for each workshop they led. Ticket discounts averaged between $15-$20. At some colleges tickets were given to participating students for free (since the regular admission price would have been $12).

Marketing for Program: Working with presenters, the program was marketed via social media and through outreach to local LGBTQ organizations and through their newsletters and e-blasts.

Cost for Program Participants: Free

Attendance To Date: 150+/-

Past Iterations: 8

What works? Making sure participants were aware of the fact that the workshops were open only to members of the LGBTQ community. Most participants liked splitting up into small groups. Always find out what the community you are working with needs and expects from your program. Be welcoming, especially when you are the outsiders in their locality.

What doesn't work? Working with various age groups, it's important to not expect that everyone will be able to do the same level of movement. We modified the movement aspect of the workshops so that older participants didn't feel excluded.

Performances Where Offered: The workshops themselves were created to develop "Dearest Home" - they are specific to the themes of the work.

Past Research on Program: i. The questionnaires that participants were asked to fill out revealed that the participants were especially happy & more at ease because our workshops were led by people of color, and/or members of the LGBTQ community. Among the demographic questions we included in the questionnaire, we asked gender identity. The choices included: Male, Female, Gender-Neutral, Gender-Fluid, Other, Prefer Not to Say (Check all that apply). Many participants wrote and asked for changes to that list, to include “trans”, and “Man” instead of “Male”, “Woman” instead of “Female”. How individuals define themselves using language, and how important that is within the LGBTQ community (important enough to mention by more than a few people), is especially revealing and useful as we continue our community outreach going forward.

Continuing Program? We will most certainly continue a variety of the community outreach workshops in the future that are specifically tailored to the work being developed. For A.I.M's next work, we will be conducting workshops (specifically) with members of the African-American community - including church groups, LGBTQ and trans individuals, married couples, a full spectrum of a community. Mr. Abraham wants to develop much of the movement vocabulary for his next work through the workshops, which he feels is an organic process.

Additional Comments:

A.I.M does not operate or develop work in a vacuum - our work is deeply rooted in community outreach.

Target Audiences Secondary school students College Students Young Adults, 25-35

Event Formats Participatory Engagement Methods: involving the audience in activities such as dancing or choreographing

Dance 101 Participation - responding to questions, writing, giving feedback

Online Engagement In person