Healing the Community Through Art

September 26,2023

Dancing Spirit Community Arts Center, like the artistic endeavors of its founders and participants, is a constantly evolving work. While its roots as an artistic co-op have not been forgotten, the non-profit has grown into a community center for visual and performing arts, offering classes, co-op space, and opportunities for the community of Ignacio to express themselves through art. The newest evolution - Dancing Spirit Center for the Arts, has broken ground to create and develop a location that will house galleries, performances, and more - and is built with the ongoing support of the community it serves. By Hannah Robertson. This story is sponsored by Alpine Bank

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Hi, I'm Eric Eicher, president and employee owner of Alpine Bank Durango. Alpine Bank is only as strong as its community and giving back to the community is one of our core values. I'm proud to present Alpine Bank's Community Matters program highlighting local non-profit organizations.

Well, Dancing Spirit started off as an artist co-op in about in 2010. Now don't laugh, but it started off April 1st, 2010, so it was April Fool's Day. So it was founded by four artists as an artist co-op. So it was Meg McDonald, Diana Ruthers, who has since passed this year, and then Melody Hadine and myself, Kasey Correia. And then we start off with 13 artists. And then from about 2010 to 2011 we were just an art co-op selling our artwork.

Since then, Dancing Spirit has evolved from an artist co-op to a performance venue and co-op to a therapeutic art center, adding new pieces along the way. Over the years, the center has moved from one space to another along the streets of Ignacio, each new building providing a new iteration of the organization and new opportunities for community involvement.

Then we came over here in 2015 to what is the old Ignacio Elementary School, and our gallery didn't really last very long here because you probably had a little hard time finding this location. So we just became teaching and education. And then our big thing is healing through the arts, because I used a lot of modalities, but clay's very forgiving.

2013 marked the first time Dancing Spirit intentionally forayed into therapeutic art with a grant from the Justice Department to work with families in the Ignacio area. Correia noted that Ignacio's history and tri-ethnic community make this type of therapy particularly relevant.

We have a tri-ethnic, basically it's multicultural, but mainly have three main groups, pioneers which are ranchers, farmers, rodeo, right? And then you have Native American because we had not only Southern Utes, but all kind, all the different tribes, and then you have the Hispanics, right, which also can be mixed in with some Mexican blood as well because they came up and they founded and they did a lot of missions. So our community now is really, wants to do some healing. There's a lot of marriages and a lot of cultures that have come together. We're rich in culture, but I really want to help our community get back, heal through the historic trauma. And there's lots of trauma community that people don't really know.

Currently, Dancing Spirit teaches and works from the El High Community Center, the former elementary school building, lending itself well to the teaching setup and has a separate gallery space for exhibition. Work is underway for the new Dancing Spirit Center for the Arts Building, though, which will combine all the elements of Dancing Spirit, a front gallery and co-op space, a multi-purpose performance space and rooms for working on art classes and kilns. Current fundraising and volunteer efforts are in place to support the construction of the new building.

Then we want to give it a venue to be able to be done right. So your contributions and support for Dancing Spirit, this building will be tremendous things. We are going to be the first non-profit to own our land, which we do already and own our building. Never been done in our history of our town.

Dancing Spirit is continuing fundraising efforts for the new building. You can donate directly online or take part in the annual Fill the Bowl Fundraiser this December. Find out more information about Dancing Spirit, the classes offered and fundraising efforts on the website. Find more information about this and other stories at durangolocal.news. Thank you for watching this edition of "Community Matters". I'm Connor Shreve.


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