Fallen Angels Creative & Strategic Director Claire Morris reflects on the event..
On Thursday 7th September 2023, Fallen Angels Dance Theatre Spreading Wings project hosted their 3rd “Recovery & Me Social” at Storyhouse.
September is “Recovery Month”. Recovery Month is held internationally to increase awareness, challenge stigma, and celebrate the success of those in recovery from all addictive behaviours. https://www.facesandvoicesofrecoveryuk.org/recovery-month/for more information.
This is the 3rd Recovery and Me social event, and as the events are peer led by Fallen Angels dancers, it felt important to delve into how they experience creativity in their recovery, and to have open conversations to allow other members of the community to better understand the unique creativity that happens here at Fallen Angels, and across Cheshire West.
We invited a panel of 3 people who would bring different perspectives to share experiences. Mel Bowen is Creative Director at Spider Project. John Horton, FADT trustee and North West England & North Wales Regional Lead for Camrus Ltd, and Colette Jones Peer leader and recovery dancer at FADT.
Mel Bowen started by describing his role and how he has experienced creativity and recovery through 20 years of working for Spider Project. https://www.spiderproject.org.uk/ he described how the founder had inspired him to set up the project in the Wirral. Mel felt that “Connection” is vital to recovery, he said “creativity fosters connection, there is a therapeutic value for doing something and doing it well.” Making space for creativity “Uncover absolute geniuses” as we have seen at both FADT and Spider through dance, art and creative writing. He went on to talk about Jerry who is now a writer for the Royal Court, who he had the pleasure of meeting through Spider Project.
In terms of value he explained that “Money can’t buy creativity”, and how creativity helps people to view the world in a different way.
We then heard from Colette who FADT met 5 years ago, she explains how she didn’t think creativity was for her, and that she came along to support others to take part, then once she tried out a workshop she was hooked, and this year she will be performing at The Royal Opera House with FADT in November – at this point the audience deservedly applauded. She described that the creativity she has found through movement gives her freedom that she never knew was possible for her. She noted that she particularly enjoys seeing the journey of change in others that she now supports to attend.
Then John Horton opened his sharing talking about his early childhood experiences and how that impacted his life. He described meeting Paul in rehab where he took part in “movement” workshops, and having a breakthrough session, where he wrote some creative writing that formed part of the creative process for the first FADT show.
“As a child I didn’t have a voice to express what happened to me. In early recovery creativity helped me to connect.” Starting the creative writing and the movement, performing on stage to an audience, and receiving applause for creativity “It helped me to create me”. “Theatre gave me a safe space.”
“At the time when I danced with FADT I couldn’t see what I was getting from sessions. When I look back now I understand “I rewired who I was.”
John went on to unpick how movement in particular releases trauma from the past, and how in addiction and trauma you exist in a fight, flight and freeze response, surviving from day to day.
Powerful insights and 3 very different perspectives.
We asked the audience if they had any questions for the panel, an audience member outlined how they themselves would love to get involved in more “Free movement and creativity” however is nervous to do so, she asked for any thoughts or tips around this?
Mel started by outlining that many people initially are resistant to engaging, and this is a barrier that they work hard to overcome and support people to engage. Colette said she would meet anyone who wants to engage, and often it is changing the perspective of can’t to can do, and finding creative ways to overcome this.
FADT offered a menti-meter option for anyone in the audience to comment on the session here are a couple of entries:
“Creativity helps to express your emotions through art & dance I am able to explore my emotion for recovery in my mental illness”.
“As a carer for my adult son I have seen my son thrive through Fallen Angels. He has found a connection through the Fallen Angels community, movement and with himself.”
The panel discussion was followed by a powerful performance from FADT recovery group based at Storyhouse, chance to chat and socialise with others over a brew, and the FADT community held an open mic session demonstrating the talent and breadth of creativity across the community members.
The next Recovery and me social will be at Storyhouse in March 2024, sign up to the FADT Newsletter here or social media channels to keep abreast of events and activities.
Photo credit: Fallen Angels Dance Theatre