Hello, I’m Usha. Welcome to my collection of offerings.
I’ll start at the beginning…
I struggled at school. I’d missed a year, and felt lost, never really finding my footing.
‘Don’t put your hand up when they ask for the choir.’ I was 6 years old, not even sure what a choir was.
‘Here, sit in the ‘E’ band.’ I was 9; after that I stopped putting up my hand even when I knew the answer.
At 16: ‘“Don’t do arts and dance – dancers always injure their knees. Go to uni and do English and Biology instead.”
What I didn’t know then was that I was dyslexic. Arts, sport and dance became my lifeline, my sanctuary. I could wiggle out of the limitations others placed on me – run, jump, make, dance – and in those moments I was in my element, free to be me. What a blessing! I loved TV programmes like Blue Peter and Tony Hart for their creative challenges; the Here’s one I made earlier always left me smiling. When I heard on the radio that Kate Bush and David Bowie had gone to Goldsmiths Art College in London, I applied without telling my school.
I made sense of my world and found meaning through the experiences of movement and making. These have become the key themes of my expression, offerings and ongoing research. Initially my love of fabrics saw me qualify in screen printed textile design, but eventually I could no longer tolerate the chemicals used at the time (deadly solvents), so I had to ask myself, what else do I love?
That was dance and movement. I was drawn to somatic and embodied practices; they left me feeling more deeply at home in my own skin, my ‘creature connectedness’ being part of this natural world. The worlds of art and movement started to fuse: I’d mash them up, instinctively working in multimodal and integrated ways. I began applying them to the fields of education, wellbeing and ecology, enjoying opportunities to experiment and develop my practice along the way. I’m always learning, and I’ve always believed intelligence is a beautiful, whole-bodied experience.
In the end, my own vulnerabilities as a child brought me full circle. In the late nineties, I worked with the Dyslexia Association on a programme called ‘Learning to Life’, running a project with youngsters who had severe dyslexia, and had been excluded from mainstream learning. This led to me joining the dots, and being screened for dyslexia myself. Suddenly the pieces of the jigsaw fell into place and I understood why I had struggled so much at school.
As a result, I became intrigued as to why the creative arts and movement supported not only me, but those I worked with so much. I became fascinated by how the brain works, delving into the neuroscience of learning and developmental movement. I was also inspired by the much overlooked physical components of learning nature’s own exquisite choreography. The growing field of neurotherapies sheds light on many interconnected processes, illuminating our human condition, our ability to learn, and our capacity to generate new possibilities. I realised that I could use the creative arts as a means to create a safe and open atmosphere to reengage with learning experiences.
Oh, for the joy of sharing creative processes and the self-awareness and connection it brings – of supporting young and old to immerse, discover, express, transform and celebrate: hands-on, heartfelt and whole-bodied!