Tag Archive for katja kolcio
by Andrew Logan ’18 •
Wesleyan Professor of Dance and Environmental Studies Katja Kolcio traveled again to Ukraine in April, this time to work with soldiers and psychologists in the National Guard. It was her third trip to the region to teach somatic practices to those undergoing the stress of political conflict, displacement, and combat.
Somatics are “mind-body practices that combine physical activity and motion with deep reflection,” she explained in “Somatics and Political Change: Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity,” (Contact Quarterly, summer/fall 2016), detailing her first trip to the region after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. In June 2015 she had been invited to lead somatic workshops for the volunteers working with refugee families and injured soldiers and offered her first set of classes in Ukraine then.
“One goal of somatics is to become more aware of subtle physical indications of dis-ease before they become acute or chronic issues,” she wrote. “Somatics is also a practice of “sense-making’—of integrating internal experiences with the external environment in order to become more conscious in the present moment.”
Kolcio considers this crucial work for her Wesleyan students, including first-year students “who are away from home for the first time, encountering world-shifting ideas.” Working with the breath and experiencing the body in the environment—its weight, the stress it holds—helps to orient the practitioner in the present moment—and envision new possibilities, make sense of the world in a different way.”
This work of integrating experiences is particularly important for those in regions undergoing crises, Kolcio believes—and it is what she can offer this country where she has familial roots. At the invitation of the National Guard of Ukraine this time, Kolcio returned to implement a somatics program to alleviate the injuries that soldiers sustain in combat.
Offering two-day workshops, Kolcio taught the creative and contemplative physical practices of somatics, as well as the cognitive approaches to build psychological flexibility and stress resistance among soldiers. Some of the techniques included the history of the body, self-awareness, breathing, body weight, muscle tension and movement.
“Various events leave a mark not only in memory but also in the body,” says Kolcio. “Thus, when helping patients recover from traumatic events, it is important to consider not only the memory in a classic sense, but the memory within the body.”
A political science major as an undergraduate, Kolcio places her body work in the context of that country’s history. The peaceful protest of the Revolution of Dignity has helped that country envision “another kind of orientation, one that seemed intent on superseding ethnic, national, and religious definitions,” she wrote in Contact Quarterly.
”What if we treated social-political orientation in the way we approach awareness in a somatic workshop?” she asks in her article. “I believe this is why my somatic workshops are being embraced here. People are seeking new ways of making sense in the world…. Somatics is an individual practice; I also see it as a social movement.”
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Katja Kolcio, associate professor of dance, associate professor of environmental studies, and a group of students attended the Ukraine in Washington forum at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on March 30, where Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko delivered the keynote address. Poroshenko was in Washington for President Barack Obama’s Nuclear Summit.
The trip was funded by the Dean of Social Sciences and the Dean of Arts and Humanities. According to Kolcio, the highlight of the trip occurred when Poroshenko responded to a question posed by Misha Iakovenko ’18 about the president’s efforts to deal with corruption, and a recent article that appeared in the Kyiv Post by gas company CEO and anti-corruption advocate Oleg Prokhorenko. The group also heard panels on Humanitarian Crisis, Economic Reform, and Political Context: Budapest to Minsk Agreements.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Building off research she did for her work “Body in Places” at Wesleyan in fall 2015, Visiting Instructor in Dance Eiko Otake will present a major platform at Danspace Project in New York City on March 11. The free talks include those by Wesleyan faculty members William Johnson, professor of history, professor of East Asian Studies, professor of science in society, professor of environmental studies, and Katja Kolcio, associate professor of dance, associate professor of environmental studies.
March 11 marks the fifth anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. A photo collective by Eiko and Johnston will be on display in the St. Mark’s Church sanctuary for 24 hours. Singers and poets will mark each hour with a song and poem.
Johnston will speak at 4 p.m., together with Marilyn Ivy of Columbia University. Kolcio will speak at 6 p.m. together with Yoshiko Chuma, artistic director and choreographer of The School of Hard Knocks and Daghdha Dance Company.
Admission is free, and attendees are encouraged to RSVP here.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Katja Kolcio, associate professor of dance, associate professor of environmental studies, was invited to attend White House Ethnic Day on June 2. The event brought together about 160 leaders from various ethnic communities for a discussion on immigration reform and foreign policy. The foreign policy discussion dealt predominantly with Ukraine, Kolcio’s area of interest.
The event was attended by White House representatives including Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama; Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Foreign Domestic Council; Felicia Escobar, special assistant to the president for immigration policy; Manar Waheed, deputy director for immigration policy; Michael Carpenter, special advisor to the vice president for Europe and Eurasia; and Celeste Wallander, special assistant to the president and senior director, Russia and Central Asia, National Security Council.
The discussion was preceded by a reception on Capitol Hill on June 1 with members of Congress.
In June and July, Kolcio will travel to Ukraine to present her research on somatic theory—which is premised on body-mind integration—and lead workshops in somatic practice geared toward the issues of displacement and PTSD. She has been invited by three different non-profit groups of mental health professionals and specialists in PTSD, a combination of psychiatrists, therapists, social workers and clergy, who assembled to address the increasing incidence of trauma and displacement due to the unexpected Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea and subsequent fighting on the border between Ukaine and Russia.
Learn more about Kolcio in this video.
by Olivia Drake •
On Oct. 24, the Dance Department and Center for the Arts present “To Not Forget Crimea: Uncertain Quiet of Indigenous Crimean Tatars,” a panel discussion and the Fall Faculty Dance Concert by Associate Professor of Dance Katja Kolcio.
While international media and political leaders are ignoring the situation in Crimea, this event draws public attention to the widespread violation of the Tatars’ human rights and the degree to which the Russian Occupation has forced them out of their ancestral homeland.
The evening will begin with a free panel discussion, “Indigenous Ukrainian Perspectives of Crimea Post Russian-Invasion,” from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Fayerweather Beckham Hall. The discussion will revolve around the current situation in Crimea, the quest for indigenous status by its Tatar population, and the movement for Tatar rights under Mustafa Jemilev, which through non-violence and interfaith collaboration offers an inspiring model for other oppressed peoples.
The event will be live streamed; see here for information and the live stream link.
Panelists will include Arsen Zhumadilov, founder and chairman of the Crimean Institute for Strategic Studies; Ayla Bakkalli, United States representative of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; and Greta Uehling, lecturer at the University of Michigan’s Program in International and Comparative Studies, and author of Beyond Memory: The Crimean Tatars’ Deportation and Return.