Dancing Words at Mplus+

This week we had a Movement-Workshop with the people from Mplus+, a non-profit organization based in Chiang-Mai, which works primarily to promote sexual health for men who have sex with men (MSM). Although male sex workers (self-identified as gay or heterosexual) are their most important target group, Mplus+ also serves the gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender communities.

The atmosphere was comfortable, as we waited for the participants to show up. I was really excited to get to know the people from Mplus+! We were lucky to be able to do the workshop in their air-conditioned office, avoiding the danger of heatstroke (the Health Ministry issues warning to avoid the high-temperature area in the beginning of this week!).

At first, we did a little warm up, to get a feeling for our bodies and to get over the self-consciousness. It was funny to dance together, and to see how different the ways to move can be.

Afterwards, we started a creative writing sequence. The participants were asked to start by thinking about a place they have been before, and to let their thoughts flow freely and spontaneously, as they wrote. Next, they were to choose a few lines or words from their writing and invent a dance expressing those words, which they would present to the group. After everyone presented, the participants combined their movements, developing group dances. It took a while for them to get into it, but I was really impressed by the powerful and moving dances they created by the end! There were dances about love and friendship; they were dancing at beaches, in bars and temples; they were together with friends or alone in an empty room. Distance and closeness were themes they often touched on with their movements.
At the end of the session we gathered to discuss what had been created. Everybody seemed to be excited and enjoyed expressing and sharing emotions, attitudes and life experiences through movements. They told us it was a nice way for them to empathize with one another. It was an amazing and wonderful group, and I loved working with such open, creative and engaging people! Thank you Mplus+ for a great afternoon!

Another note: This is my last day working for CCT. I had an extraordinary time here in Chiang Mai. I appreciated the opportunity to work with so many wonderful and unique people, and I have had many invaluable experiences here! Continue the work – it’s great!


The little mole at Hope Home

These days the heat takes a toll on all of us. It’s over 40 degrees every day, without any relief from the rain! But we are fighting it, and trying to stay strong and continue our work as best we can. On Friday returned to Hope Home. This week, we planned a themed activity about a little mole in a cartoon. First, we started by watching the little mole paint. A scary fox wants to catch the cute little mole, and during the chase, the little mole falls into a bucket of red paint. The fox is scared of the paint-covered mole. Once the mole realizes the paint keeps the fox away, he and his friends start painting themselves and the forest to drive the bad fox away. Pretty soon, the forest is bursting with color!

Inspired by the cartoon, the kids colored in printouts of the little mole. We prepared brushes with bells attached at the ends, to make the painting more exciting – in correspondence with the cartoon, which had no speech, but did use various supporting noises.

The kids didn’t really attend to the outlines of the pictures, but they enjoyed playing around with the colors – it was a big mess, but fun! Natalie was especially covered in paint, after she decided to do finger-painting. It seemed that she wanted to imitate the little mole from the cartoon ;)

At the end, we watched more of the little mole cartoon and listened to some music to calm the kids down. We left the kids tired, but happy, and went back to the office tired, but happy, ourselves.

Thanks to everybody for your energy and dedication!



I like to move it - move it!

Last Friday we went to Thai Freedom House, a non-government, not-for-profit organization that assists displaced families in Thailand. Their work includes helping refugees from Burma who have come to Thailand as well as displaced indigenous Hill Tribe families.
The idea of our workshop was to explore the body and share emotions, attitudes and life experiences through movement games and drama techniques. At first, we did some simple exercises as a warm up to experiment with body movement. The kids were really engaged and enjoyed it a lot. They were not shy at all to do the silliest movements. The room was full of laughter as we danced in round and angular motions, slow, fast, big, tiny, quiet and loud. We imagined that there was a string on one part of our bodies pulling us through the space. Everybody was really concentrated on the body part be it the head, shoulder etc. When we got to the belly and the butt they were rolling on the floor laughing.
In the second part of the workshop we went further in our expression. In still images, participants sculpted their bodies to express emotions, and later on they told a story about their feelings and life experiences through a little series of still pictures. Finally, we had a group picture all together expressing sadness, and changing it to happiness. The children worked well together and it was amazing to see how they expressed themselves. Their sculptures were quite intense, and overflowed with emotion! They really enjoyed inventing little stories and were very creative in that exercise – I loved it!

After the workshop we ate mangos, drew pictures, and played a bit together. The atmosphere was so relaxed, and I am glad that I got to know these wonderful children at this beautiful place! I’m a bit sad that I won’t have the chance to do another workshop with them, because I’m leaving in two weeks. Thai Freedom House also has a sweet little cafĂ© ;). For anyone who’s in Chiang Mai right now, or plans to come in the future, you should go there, it’s great!

See you there soon!