Dancing with Pain

Performer: Ashley Rucker
Q&A by: Ara Barzingi

When was the moment you realized that you can express and vent your pain into movement? How did that moment feel the first time you got up and moved as a response to your emotions? Did you dance before?

The first time I realized, I was actually recording myself dancing. I saw my facial expression. I was so angry and hurt, then something just clicked. I felt free. I remember dancing, just breaking down and crying.  Ever since then, if I was frustrated or having a bad day I would just move, move to release. Yes, I have always danced, but not like this, not in a way of letting go, not in a way of connecting dance to a deep rooted feeling or emotion.

Do you think every type of art can be therapeutic in the way “Therapart” and dance works or do you think particularly dancing and movement is a special art when it comes to healing and therapy?

Yes, all art can be therapeutic and anyone can turn their pain into POWER. That is what Therapart is all about, using any art modality, and using it to heal yourself, and your trauma. Dancing is my form of release, but not everyone’s. It can be anything, cooking, painting, sewing, singing. It’s about tapping into your soul and going deep. Connecting emotions to art is therapy, its Therapart! it’s about having your own relationship with art itself.

How do young kids with a criminal or addiction background usually react when they first get introduced to therapart and have a therapart session with you for the first time? How exactly does the process work for someone who starts to join Therapart and works with you?

The kids I have worked with love it, because Therapart is a safe space. As far as programming, it varies per the youth or institution we are working with. We tailor each program so everyone can feel deeply connected. We combine a mix of restorative art modalities with movement as well. The program is so much fun, and the thing that makes it special is I let them know we are all on the same level. No one is different, we are all one. What is shared in the space together is sacred.

What were your biggest challenges as a young female black entrepreneur building your non for profit platform “Therapart”?

My biggest challenge was believing in myself. Believing I could do this. The concept for Therapart has changed a million times, but I kept going even when there were so many times when I wanted to give up, I knew deep in my soul what I had to do, and I was not going to give up. I will still never give up on myself or my dreams no matter any obstacles I face. I have seen firsthand, anything you dream can truly become a reality.

Therapart was built out of an intimate experience and very painful time in your and your family’s life. How did you deal with sharing your experience in order to help other people with a similar experience? How did the need come up to create Therapart, and share your story?

You know at the end of the day, the truth will set you free. When I created Therapart I had no idea what it was or what it was going to be w, and when making the film, that was my own healing journey. I realized how much work I had to do on myself before sharing with the world. I think sharing your truth is the most important thing we can do for each other, and humanity. We all live in these superficial bubbles, and we never let anyone see us sweat. In order for change, we must sweat, and share our truth. The need to create Therapart was initially started because I wanted to raise money to send my brother to rehab. The more the idea developed, Therapart was born.

What’s your goal for Therapart, your wish and hope for the young kids who take Therapart sessions? Where do you see Therapart in 5 years?

My goal for Therapart is to change lives truly through the arts. We do not need to turn to drugs or the streets, but we can turn art into a form of therapy. My hope for the young kids is that they believe in themselves despite all of the things they have been through, building them up, giving them the opportunities, so they can grow……do better and be better, not get sucked into the system or caught up in the wrong situations. My hope for Therapart in 5 years is to take this all over the world. I know art can heal. It is just about tapping in on a soul level.