Reflections and gratitude- The journey of the 2015 Caroline Plummer Dance Fellow

My welcome message at the Auckland airport
My welcome message at the Auckland airport

I am finally here in Aotearoa!!!!!

I am ecstatic about this moment. I remember when I was informed  about this fellowship and I thought to myself ” This is perfect for me and I must go for it”  and then the self doubt began. Am I good enough? What about my full time job? What about my living arrangements? Would they care for what an African woman living in the U.S has to say? Would they care that I am not a trained classical dancer? Would they care that I am not a stick figured dancer? What if they don’t understand my accent? Are there black people there? (this was before I found out the meaning of black in Aotearoa is different from  where I live). I pushed through all the doubts and moved  forward  with the application. The application process was much simpler than I had expected. I had to send in a proposal about what I planned on doing through a paper and an unedited video. I had so much anxiety around making the video. I looked through youtube and could not find any previous winners of the fellowship posted. I had one week left to go before the deadline and no video. A friend suggested the interview style I used which made it less nerve racking and it worked. I had sent in numerous proposals  which all got rejected so why would this time be different?  sent it in with crossed fingers hoping they wouldn’t judge all the background noise and my hair (its a black girl thing to be worried about the perception of the hair). It was less than perfect but because of the timeline, I sent it in anyway. I prayed that it would be selected. I envisioned myself jumping up and down from hearing the good news. Once it was submitted, the anxiety dissipated and all I had control over was my mantras, visualizations and positive thoughts.  

On June 26th 2014, I received an email that stated Great news, I’m pleased to advise that you have been shortlisted for the Caroline Plummer Fellowship for 2015. Your application will be considered by the full board in mid-July. We will be in contact with you again following the boards consideration of the short-listed applications”. I was ecstatic!!!! I prayed, mediated and envisioned the possibilities of this opportunity. In July 2014, I received a phone call from the Dean of the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences personally to notify me that I was the chosen recipient. I of course dramatically fell on the floor from shock of the great news and was in shock the rest of the week. It’s been almost a year since I received the initial information and since then, the press release went out, I notified my friends and family, left my full time nurse consultant job,  and I have moved to a foreign country. I am here in Dunedin NZ reflecting on how I got here to this moment. Six months seems like hardly enough time to accomplish the work I have set out to do researching the effect music and dance has on mothers and babies. I hope that I am able to connect with the right people, learn what needs to be learned, honor and respect the people of the land and be present in the precious moments that are yet to come. Stay tuned for more of my reflections.
In gratitude
Uzo

The first African to recieve this prestigious fellowship-2015 Caroline Plummer Dance Fellow, Uzo Nwankpa

Dance Shot

Photo Credit : Jade Beall

I am super excited to share with the world this wonderful news. I have been awarded a fellowship to work with a population that is near and dear to my heart women, children and their family. Check out the press release below.

University of Otago Arts Fellowships for 2015 announced

 

In my last blog post, The Uzo Method Project- A Public Health Solution- Community Based Resource Center for PMAD, I shared some research data that shows the importance of music and dance on energy and stress levels. This curiosity about music and dance continues as I continue to tie my graduate studies work to the power of music and dance. I am striving to build the relationship between being a health care provider in public health nursing and my gift and passion for dance, it is a no brainer to explore and study the best way to merge the two disciplines and worlds.

I was fortunate to be awarded this fellowship at the University of Otago. Yes!!!!! I am going to Aeotoera (New Zealand) as the 2015 Caroline Plummer Dance Fellow. I get to live my dreams combining dance with Maternal and Child Health nursing. This opportunity involves working with the community members of Dunedin NZ as well as the health care providers exploring the culture and perceptions around pre-natal and post-partum mood disorders (PPMD). This would lead to an informed community dance experience and a performance/arts installation at the end.The goal of my Maternal-Child Dance project is to share cultural ideologies around PPMD and engage in community awareness of the benefits of music and dance as a support for the mother, babies and their families and communities as a whole as members experience disturbances due to PPMD.

My dream…..

I wonder what it would be like if nurses, nurse home visitors, nurse midwives, doulas, lactation consultants, OB/GYNs, mental health providers, and family members used music and movement as a part of relieving the anxiety, preventing further depression, decreasing stress, building community, developing positive pathways in the brain, building relationships, improving caregiver child interaction, and improving communication through everyday practice.

Uzo Nwankpa

Founder Uzo Method Project

Overcomer Dance- A community Healing event

I am honored to continue my journey in life through dance. Dancing is something that brings stillness to my mind. Dancing helps me grow, heal, and survive.

I was asked to help coordinate the Flash Mob to the Overcomer Song by Mandisa in Tucson AZ. The song is very empowering and I jumped on the opportunity. On jan 8th 2011, 17 people were shot and 6 people died. One of the survivors is former congress woman Gabby Giffords. On Wednesday Jan 8th 2014, we remembered the victims and survivors of this tragic event at El Presidio Park downtown Tucson through the flash mob. There were multiple classes held in the community, hospital, high school and YMCA. People committed to learning the moves and they showed up to dance.  I was excited to join a team of wonderful visionaries that made this all happen. It was a success. Check out the video and photos from the event.

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On Jan 11th, the Beyond Tucson event asked for more and I taught the community the dance. including the Mayor of Tucson Jonathan Rothchild and his wife.

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Check out the video

We also got some press coverage

http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/arts/report/010814_overcomer/video-flash-mob-dances-overcomer-mark-jan-8/

http://azstarnet.com/gallery/news/local/photos-beyond/collection_6f68746e-7b08-11e3-a949-001a4bcf887a.html#8

http://azstarnet.com/gallery/news/local/photos-beyond/collection_6f68746e-7b08-11e3-a949-001a4bcf887a.html#11

Uzo @ Congress for World AIDS Day- The wellness perspective

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We will be here. Community healing at its finest. What better way than to play Live music and motion towards wellness.

It is all a balance.

The Uzo Method Project is proud to support the Tucson community in promoting wellnesss and elevating the spirit through music and movment. Lets celebrate hope.

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Richard Noel and Uzo Nwankpa at Cyclovia Tucson AZ 2013

April was a fabulous Month- Highlight of events

It has been an amazing month of April. I have been privileged to be a part of the Tucson Community and to be immersed in all the things I am truly passionate about. Here is a summary of my April

I accepted a new position as a Nurse Consultant supporting new moms and their babies. It has been a huge accomplishment for me as well as a new and exciting challenge. I visited Denver CO for training and I managed to get a few other nurses to join me in dancing “Kaka” Togolese style with the lovely and talented Koffi.

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On April 12th, my partner and I got to host the Hey Baby art against sexual violence which was an amazing experience of art, and performance and activism. Image

On April 13th I got to see Fela live and I was in tears the entire time. I loved the show, the dancing was phenomenal, all black girls who look like me and dance like me and Nigeria is the topic. WOW. Lovely birthday gift.

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April 19th Afri-Can Benefit We got to dance, sing, tell educational tales to raise funds for children in Senegal who happen to be orphans

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April 22nd I got to dance with a room full of 3, 4 and 5 yr olds and they were phenomenal. Their teacher was well versed in many topics around Africa. She had them make some art with the colors of the country and they sang the Yoruba welcome song. They signed while they sang and the counted to ten in Swahili. It was impressive. We drummed, we danced, we sang. I love working with children, they fuel me.

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April 24 Take Back the Night Tucson- This was by far the most involved I have been involved in a community event such as this. The planning committee consisted of a few passionate folks and supportive agencies. I got to play music and facilitate healing movements right after the event. The children came up right away and danced. I loved the shift of energy and it was completely healing for me too.

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We had Bongos, Congas, Djembes, Singer, poet and a Native American flutist

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April 26th My Birthday- This year was completely fabulous. I got to facilitate the one billion rising choreography to people of the community. It was highly emotional AND THE BEST BIRTHDAY GIFT. I then off to Sonoita Vineyards for the weekend.

April 28th Cyclovia- Tucson closed down streets to experience the outdoors and create a safe fun space for all on wheels. We got to dance on bicycles and drum in the streets. So much fun

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Our presence at Cyclovia was funded in part by Kresge P.L.A.C.E. IV grant, administered through Tucson Pima Arts Council.

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Finally, April 29th, I co facilitated a lecture on the healing of the drum and music of indigenous people co presented with Dr Praise Zenega of the U of A School of Africana Studies. It was great to get feedback from the students.

Its been an amazing month. Don’t forget to check out the calendar if you want to be a part of the adventure. Next Month, there are a few events you do not want to miss.