Sheila K. Collins Website



January 2014  

Masthead Sheila K. Collins from Website

Dear  ,


Here we are in a brand new year and I find myself looking back. Sankofa the Africans call it - going backwards in order to move forward. This month's article is about the beginnings of InterPlay, the art-based system that I teach. Rich and I found it in 1992, when it was in its fledgling state, so this is a story of the "olden days." 


The rest of January is filled with travel and events to get the word out about my book, Warrior Mother. I'll be traveling to North Texas this week for Performing the Book events in Fort Worth, North Dallas and South Dallas


The following week I'm in Atlanta Performing the Book with the help of students from my InterPlay Performance class, at Charis, a well-known feminist bookstore.


There will be three more trips through to the middle of the summer as I travel to teach the first Atlanta InterPlay Life Practice Program. Back in Pittsburgh I'll be teaching a series of four InterPlay classes on Tuesday nights in my home studio and a workshop at the Contemporary Craft exhibit - ENOUGH Violence: Artists Speak Out.  


In all these places, I look forward to reconnecting with long time friends and meeting new ones. If you live in or near North Texas, Atlanta, or Pittsburgh, I'd love to have you join me for these InterPlay classes and book events.


Happiness and health in the coming year,


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Monday January 13, 2014
There's a lot of empty, silent space in our house these days. Nobody's sitting at the front window, guarding the perimeter from potential intruders. There's no greeting as we return home and open the front door, no heralded announcement that guests we have not yet heard coming, are in fact arriving.      CLICK HERE

Sunday January 5, 2014

As our plane finally lifts from the ground in Palm Springs CA. we're offered a panoramic view of the mountains and red tile rooftops on the valley floor. "Goodbye palm trees. Goodbye warm swimming pools and even warmer hot tubs. Goodbye dear family, till the next time we can arrange to be together from across the continent."   CLICK HERE 


Friday December 20, 2013

Like many people around the world, I watched the bereavement rituals for the beloved Nelson Mandela. In my case, I was looking for clues to answer a question that has been on my mind for years. "Can what is done at the time of a death, and immediately afterwards, help survivors to accept it, and be strengthened by the grief experience? 



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What Our Bodies REALLY Want 


In the 1990s, my husband and I spent a week each summer in California at a retreat center or a church social hall. We'd gather with a dozen or two people from across the country, returning each year for, what we came to call ourselves, "The Reunion Group." It wasn't what my husband calls a "vacation vacation," where you lie on a beach and swim in the surf. These were workshops with titles like "The Wisdom of the Body", or "What the Body Wants", Two dancing ministers, Phil Porter and Cynthia Winton-Henry,

InterPlay: Unlock the Wisdom of Your Body 
InterPlay: Unlock the Wisdom of Your Body

who had developed a creative arts-based system of improvisation centered in the body, taught the workshops.


We'd begin moving to "get in our bodies", which seems a strange expression, since from the outside, it would appear that we should already be there. But like most people in the western world, participants in these workshops had inherited the habits and mindsets that separated mind, body, emotion, and spirit centuries ago. The only difference in us from the people spending their summer vacations at the beach was that we were looking for ways to heal these splits, and willing to invest time and energy in exploring this important frontier.


As we moved through each workshop, we'd allow words, and eventually stories to grow out of our movements. We'd create sounds that became songs and we'd practice collaborating with

InterPlay Introduction 
InterPlay Introduction

other bodies, finding and following, what we called the "group body." When this happened we experienced a deep satisfaction not readily available in our regular lives, which is probably what kept us coming back. And having had these experiences together, we forged life-long connections with people we only saw once a year, who went back home to places like Minnesota, Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago, North Carolina, Texas. And because we missed InterPlay we began teaching the InterPlay tools we'd been learning and piloting.


The InterPlay system was evolving at that time, and being based in the body, our experiences were often difficult to describe or define in

InterPlay Warm Up
InterPlay Warm Up

words. We would often say during the process of the workshop day, as people were using the tools to explore and express their stories, "Is this art or is this therapy?" Since I was a dancer and a therapist, I didn't feel I had to choose which word best described InterPlay. I knew that it could be, and often was, art and therapy. But one morning, after a particularly moving day of presentations by workshop participants, I awoke with an expanded question - "Is it art, or is it therapy, or is it church?"


This heralded for me a realization that InterPlay was a complete integrated system, connecting all the parts of us while bringing us together as a group, as our ancestors were brought together in communal circles to dance and sing, tell our stories, grieve our losses and celebrate life.


Those first participants who returned so faithfully each year to ecstatically follow co-founders Cynthia and Phil, were members of three professional groups - groups that are still most likely to get what InterPlay is and recognize their own need for it. They were people who work with people in challenging life situations; therapists, social workers, and coaches; people who tend to the spiritual needs of others: ministers and spiritual directors; and artists of varying types; dancers, musicians, singers, poets, whose creativity comes from an embodied place, often sparked by collaboration with others.


These pioneers became co-founding mothers and fathers in the further development of the InterPlay system, now a social movement having spread to 60 cities in the US and to five continents. InterPlay will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in the fall of 2014. I am proud to be a part of it. 

2013.04.20 Sankofa Dance Theater
2013.04.20 Sankofa Dance Theater

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Sheila K. Collins, PhD 

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