“The Body Keeps the Score: Dancing with Trauma and Recovery” promotes social awareness and healing

DanceLink presents “The Body Keeps the Score: Dancing with Trauma and Recovery”, a choreographer/composer collaboration available for on-demand online screening. In 2018, Sarah Carlson, the Artistic Director of DanceLink, teamed up with composer Vernon J. Mobley to explore the universal spectrum of trauma in a program inspired by Bessel van der Kolk’s well-known text of the same name. To learn more and purchase a recording of this event, click here.

“The Body Keeps the Score” uses movement, music and text to unpack the idea that trauma must be addressed on an individual body level first before greater communal (or “big body”) change can follow. “The impact of trauma affects the lives of so many of us,” states Carlson. “It interrupts our ability to be present, to function and most tragically, to connect authentically with others. Most of us aren’t even aware of how this traumatic residue is affecting our lives.” The creative process invited cast members to draw from personal experience to fuel movement invention.

In his text, Van Der Kolk explains that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can fragment a holistic sense of self connected to the here and now. Everyday sensory input can trigger flashbacks or emotional outbursts that disturb normal functioning and healthy relationships. As such, disassociation can be born out of simple survival techniques. Reclaiming an awareness of the breath and physical sensations can be powerful forms of healing. These dynamics are explored onstage.

Carlson and Mobley previously worked together on “What Lies Within”, a project about racial injustice, and hence they are particularly interested in the cycle of trauma caused by oppression. “Trauma caused by oppression is the most insidious,” muses Mobley. “Belittlement or abuse at the hands of another is never justified, but when you consider the perpetrator can often be acting out from a foundation of trauma sometimes generations in the making, it makes you think.” Understanding the dynamics of this cycle can be the first step towards awareness and healing.

“The Body Keeps the Score: Dancing with Trauma and Recovery” received generous support from the Pennsylvania Partners for the Arts and the Cultural Coalition of Allentown.

About the Artists:

Sarah Carlson (director) is the Founder & Artistic Director of DanceLink, a project-based company which seeks to bridge people, ideas & understanding through the power of movement. Sarah danced professionally for 10 years in NYC with numerous companies including Alexandra Beller/Dances, Brian Brooks Moving Company, Clare Byrne Dance, Paul Mosley Dance and the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. As an independent choreographer, her own work has been presented throughout the US at venues such as Gibney Dance in NYC, On the Boards in Seattle, and The Yard on Martha’s Vineyard as well as in Benin, Africa. Sarah is a co-director of the Lehigh Valley Dance Exchange & a licensed massage therapist. Sarah is currently an Assistant Professor of Dance at Cedar Crest College and has been on the dance faculty at Lehigh University, Muhlenberg College, DeSales University, and the University of Southern Mississippi. In 2007, she completed a Fulbright Grant studying Vodou ritual dance in Benin, Africa furthering an on-going inquiry into sacred dance forms. In 2008, Sarah founded DanceLink to promote community and to use the wisdom of the body to unpack the big questions, often spiritual in nature. DanceLink’s projects have received funding from the Pennsylvania Partners for the Arts, the Cultural Coalition of Allentown, the Lehigh Valley Dance Exchange, the Lehigh Valley Engaged Humanities Consortium and the King County Arts Commission. Sarah received a BA in French and European Studies from Connecticut College and an MFA in Dance from the University of Washington.

Vernon J. Mobley (composer) has been a musician for more than 3 decades. As a drummer/percussionist he has worked tirelessly to craft an unmistakable sound and style that is unrivaled in the Lehigh Valley. His roots are of Gospel and his skills carefully cultivated while playing in church with his father (organist) and his brother (bassist & guitarist).
Longing for the opportunity to further use some of his talents and share his extensive musical knowledge with jazz aficionados, Vernon organized Fusion Jazz Trio in 2002. These days Vernon J. the drummer can be seen playing the drums with his award-winning band Fusion Jazz Trio, jazz sextet FunkXpress led by bassist Gene Perla(Miles Davis), funk quartet Post Junction with John Fadem or with guitar eccentric guitar ensemble Galvanic Ignition. In addition to being a drummer’s drummer Vernon has been a church organist for the past 23 years at Community Fellowship Cathedral in Allentown, PA. In 2016, Vernon J. scored “The Island”, a one act play by a local Lehigh Valley playwright for Allentown Public Theater. In 2017, Vern scored the music for “What Lies Within: Dancing with Race and Identity,” a collaboration between DanceLink and Basement Poetry. In 2018 Vernon was commissioned to write music for a dance ensemble piece “Blister” by choreographer Angela Sigley-Grossman. This piece is a response to historian Sarah Helm’s text on Ravenbruck, the Nazi concentration camp for women. Vernon J. is a faculty member DeSales University serving as an accompanist for the dance department.