Fitness and Art – Shakti’s Story
Learn about the artist behind Afrofun.
Shakti Orion runs the Afrofun dance classes at Poplar Union, a class run for kids that manages to incorporate funk, African, and contemporary dance into just one hour sessions. She provides kids with physical exercise, a space for social and emotional wellbeing, and challenge their cognitive skills. But, most importantly, she makes sure that these sessions are pure fun for the kids who attend.
Compared to most of the case studies we’ve already done, Shakti has a very different background. As a performance and visual artist, creativity is one of the driving forces of her work. This has meant that after practicing Occupational Therapy for 7 years, she realised that she decided instead to study contemporary dance in order to develop her art into a profession, rather than a hobby. This was the first step to her getting in touch with her artistic and creative side again, and since then has ran various dance and fitness classes over the years with audiences that range from those with disabilities or dementia, to parents on the school run or their kids. Outside of this she is also involved in her own performance art, with interactive exhibitions at the Idea Store and one on one performance consultations afterwards. She does workshops and art clubs for kids, helping children and adults alike express themselves through art.
The actual Afrofun classes were kicked off after she approached Poplar Union with her ideas for the class. Self-employed and having to create her own work, she knew she was skilled and confident enough to do this.
Her background and creative spirit feed through into these sessions. Using the philosophy and knowledge of occupational therapy like expression and healing, Shakti creates an environment that is fun, empowering, and creative. She thinks that children should learn through fun, rather than authoritative styles of teaching, and that education should be a dialogue that considers what the kids want to do. Through this teaching style she hopes to give children a space to be creative and express themselves and really tries to promote the exploration and expression of their own identity and movement.
At the end of the day, Shakti really wants to help other people communicate – and if she can improve their wellbeing while she’s at it then it’s a win-win.
So why should you take your kids to Afrofun? Firstly, there are a vast number of health benefits that come from keeping your kids active, such as strengthening bones and muscle, helping with stress and concentration, and lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. But Shakti’s classes in particular are great for making all of this fun, for giving your kid an hour a week to express themselves and explore their movement and identity.
Check out her Afrofun classes here.
Check out her Facebook page here.
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