Friday, April 8, 2016

The Curious Case of Creative Movement - Part 1 - Carissa Laitinen - Kniss

The Curious Case of Creative Movement
Part 1
The Back Story

Before we get into the deep parts of what creative movement is, why it's important and so on.  I feel it's necessary to share a little personal history, in hopes it will help others better understand why this is so important to me and quite possibly you as well.

I can still rock the Goodship Lollipop!


Throughout my entire life I have danced.  In the beginning it was movement for movements sake.  I was a young child and simply enjoyed moving.  I enjoyed the way it felt to spin, roll, flip and sway.  I enjoyed how the music moved inside me, the vibration, and how it became an extension into the physical world.  After a few years of incessantly bothering my mother everyday all day with "Me go to dance school mommy?", she finally enrolled me in private studio to study dance.  She thought it would be a short lived 3 year old's adventure in movement, little did she know that 30 years later that exploration and adventure in movement would still be going strong.

As the years went by, my love for dance and movement evolved as I grew and changed.  During those "awkward" years, dance was frustrating and difficult.  There were many days that I didn't want to go to rehearsal or technique class.  My body wasn't cooperating, I didn't quite understand what the hell was going on with me, and movement wasn't as pleasant as it had been.  Yet, I would still go and never once after a rehearsal or class did I regret being there or being in the moment.

The first dance I created from vision to performance.  
I made that doll come to life, my mom made the costume reality, 
and my ballet teacher Mrs. Susan whipped me in shape!


In high school, dance and movement became an escape.  It was my safe haven, the one place where I felt free.  I became much more serious about studying dance, yoga, and Pilates.  I knew it was taking me somewhere, I wasn't sure where, I just knew I would eventually find peace if I kept on the path dance was leading me on.

Then college hit.  I was an early graduate of high school.  16 years old and I was being asked what I presumably wanted to do for the rest of my life.  So I went with the one and only thing that felt right and the one and only thing I knew…DANCE!  While attending Texas Woman's University my views of movement, real true purposeful movement, were challenged beyond my wildest expectations.  There were days where I thought man I have seriously fucked up, there is no way I can make a career or a living out of this, I don't know a damn thing about dance.  There were days where I thought I have wasted 15 plus years of my life.  Years wasted spinning in circles and leaping across stages, to hell with it.  Halfway through my college career I was forced with a heartbreaking decision, quit dancing and change careers, or live with chronic pain.  Call it stupidity, call it Finnish stubbornness, or maybe it was my opposition defiance disorder kicking in, either way I dug deeper, pushed harder, and switched my focus from performance to bodywork by necessity.  2003 came, and I found myself graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts focusing on dance, kinesiology and education.  What a mix, can we talk about a seriously confused undergraduate?

It was my first step toward flying!


The summer of 2003 I received a cardboard tube in the mail that made it's unopened home in the back of a dark closet in my house.  I went on to work the societal expectation of the cooperate American career.  As one of the youngest people working for this Fortune 500 company I was very successful and moved my way up the ranks rather quickly.  I HATED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!  Sure I made some good friends and I will never forget those crazy town hall meetings or McCracken Plumbing (thank you Marla), but something was eating at my soul and I slowly began to become the very thing I despised.  A few years in, while doing a great yoga flow in my office on a conference call, I decided to make a major change.  I was 22 years old and didn't know what the hell I was doing.  Add to that I just found out I was pregnant and really hadn't even figured out how to function inside this thing called marriage.  So what does any rational person in this place do?  Enroll at a private university for online courses to complete a Masters Degree in Education!  So for the next couple years there I sat, working 40 plus hours on little sleep, going home typing research papers with a kid hanging from my tit, praying I didn't get shit on, and still trying to figure out what in hell being a wife meant for a self proclaimed feminist.  It was a very difficult few years, then I received in the mail another cardboard tube that found it's home at the back of my dark closet with it's previous mate.  I still had no fucking clue what I was doing!

Still don't bake!  That's what my bestie is for!


2008 came, I was working for one of the smartest women I have ever met.  I learned more about business and human resources than you could ever imagine working under her.  She challenged me and helped me grow in my career and my personal life.  Then on a beautiful spring day, with the sun reflecting off the water from the stanky Las Colinas canal our offices overlooked, this awesome mentor gave me one of the biggest raises she had ever handed out during an annual review.  So here I sat, by all accounts a young, successful business woman with a cute little family, hardworking husband (he's cute too), a nice home, nice cars..... BLAH BLAH BLAH!  I still felt empty and unfulfilled.  About a week from the date of my raise, I sent an email to my mentor that sent a gasp through our entire office, I quit.

Now I knew what I was doing, now I had figured out my life and was on my way to living the dream.  I was going to teach dance and cheerleading at a very prestigious North Texas High School.  Only, it wasn't my dream at all.  I had hoped to inspire young adults to move, appreciate their bodies, and enjoy life; and a part of me feels like I accomplished some of that.  However, as with any school the bureaucratic bullshit hit the fan and I realized really quickly I traded corporate America for a much different, often times more awful beast.  I was still chasing my dream I just had a really shitty map on how to get there.



2010 came, and so did my second bundle of joy.  Life was awesome, until it wasn't.  That same year I was diagnosed with a very rare connective tissue disease.  To which I said FUCK YOU WORLD, you don't get to ruin my happiness and my love of life and dancing.  So I wrote a bunch of shit down in a journal, I cried, I drank lots of vodka, and then woke up like a rockstar ready to tear down the walls of a fancy hotel.  I got out my pretty collection of colorful expo markers and I went to town writing a list of to do's and goals on my mirror.  If I had to see them every day, I would be held accountable to my word.  Then came the famous bike ride (read how the Twisted Twosome came to be) and many more journals and expo markers, which manifested into our pink palace Twisted Bodies.  Thankfully I had an awesome best friend (Khristen) who looked me square in the eye and said, "Quit being a pussy and let's do something about our lives!"  High Ho Silver, Let's Ride!

Now that's trust!


So our wild ride into entrepreneurs, performers, aerialists, moms, partners, and more began.  In a way, my life of movement had moved, it had come full circle and transformed into exactly what it should be.  Movement, every day.  Creating it, learning about it, teaching it, loving it.


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