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Arts Practitioners Bring Fresh Approach To Online Wellbeing Classes During Pandemic

Intercultural Roots have been offering free online classes to help people cope physically and mentally with the pandemic

Starting on 16th March as an emergency response to Covid-19, Intercultural Roots have been offering free online classes to help people cope physically and mentally with the incredible lifestyle shift that the pandemic has forced upon everyone. From 76 participants in the first week, they reached over 2,500 people in four months. For the next six weeks, they will roll out a new round of these classes which draw on techniques including Traditional Chinese Medicine, Taoism, movement and physical theatre.

The classes and courses are run by experts from all over the world, including Dr Alex Feng from Guangzhou/California, a multi-discipline expert who was instrumental in the legalisation of acupuncture in California. The company is also offering an artist-led workshop series, Constellations, discussing ideas around the relationship between art and three key themes: activism, city and health, starting with Art and Activism. The classes range from £3 to £6, or are free for those who cannot afford them.

The weekly classes include NIA Dance taught by Artistic Director Dr Andrea Maciel. NIA, which could be described as a middle ground between yoga and Zumba, provides aerobic conditioning, body toning, and strength building by using martial art, yoga and dance. Alongside Adriana La Selva, Andrea will also be teaching Bodies in Expression, a session for women aimed at using physical theatre techniques such as body engagement, and breathing and vocal exercises to increase confidence and self-esteem.

Executive director Dr Alex Boyd will be teaching Daoyin' Taoist Whole Body Breathing, a breathing practice that strengthen muscles and the whole respiratory system. Alex and Andrea will also be teaching Qigong Dance together, a technique which draws from Taoism and Laban technique.

Other classes include A Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach to Boosting the Immune system, run by renowned teacher Dr Alex Feng, a California based practitioner who was born in Guangzhou. As well as TCM, his extensive practice includes Taoism and a black belt in Judo and Jujitsu.

Dr Andrea Maciel said "This difficult pandemic time has taught us that it has never has been so important to invest in physical, spiritual and mental self-care. Over the last four months, we at Intercultural Roots have been witnessing how art and movement are the most powerful tools to connect people to their own creativity, physical wellness and mental balance"

Executive Director Dr Alex Boyd said "We're delighted to be able to offer such a diverse range of arts practices made possible thanks to the London Community Response Fund. Our new activities will benefit the artistic community and the broader public creating opportunities for people to connect online in interesting ways even though traditional venues are still closed."

Intercultural Roots is a registered charity. Their aims are:

  • To advance the education of the public on the subject of traditional and indigenous embodied arts and to promote research for the public benefit in all aspects of that subject and to publish the useful results
    To advance the cultural heritage of traditional and indigenous embodied arts to benefit peoples throughout the world through research, preservation, sustainment and dissemination
  • To relieve hardship in indigenous communities worldwide, either generally or individually, including through the provision of grants, goods or services.

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