Empowering Women through Dance

An interview with Kathryn Kirk, Outreach Manager at CSASS

Following our recent Empowering Women through Dance project, we spoke with Kathryn Kirk, Outreach Manager at Chester Sexual Abuse Support Service (CSASS) to hear her thoughts on the project…

Why did CSASS work in partnership with Fallen Angels?

Chester Sexual Abuse Support Service (CSASS) Outreach programmes has been developing different creative approaches to support women who have survived sexual abuse. These have included using mindfulness, walk and talk and visual art. FADT, as a well-established local dance company have an excellent profile with working with local people who are recovered addicts. Both charities realised that there could be an exciting partnership, using skills from both organisations to develop women’s self-esteem through creative dance and movement as a way of exploring feelings and self. This partnership was also an opportunity to develop skills and professional links for the volunteers and leaders in both organisations.

What was the highlight of the project for you/CSASS?

When women independently started discussing what they would like to do next in both their own lives and future careers and how the project has changed their outlook and well-being. “I felt so strong when we were dancing together, and this feeling has stayed with me”.

Were there any unexpected outcomes?

Each individual woman came to try and work through their own individual needs; but they have found strength and power when they are working and creating with others. The women all started to support each-other throughout the project as a company The strength and power of each individual has grown and despite most of the project being virtual; the dance, conversations and sharing images has created connections.

Did the project meet your expectations?

Yes, the project expectations were exceeded. Once we were put into the first lockdown for Coronavirus, I did wonder whether the project would be on hold. The women have met together when they have felt able, whether in the park, studio or online. They shared words of hope and support, sending messages of encouragement and continuing to connect whenever possible. This connection has been the sustenance which has enabled the amazing words and images to be produced in the studio in November. The strength and empowerment which the women have created together has been palpable.

Watch Empowering Women through Dance film

Here is a film of the project that sees 6 Women who have experienced mental health challenges, sexual violence, or are in recovery from addiction, in a Covid safe performance at Storyhouse’s Garret Theatre.

Film by Jonny Noakes Films

Photo by Kat Hannon Photography