KAIROS Dance Theater founders, DeAnna Pellecchia and Ingrid Schatz, have been collaborating with Medicine Wheel Productions for 12 years, working as teaching artists and creating performances for MWP’s youth programs which have been performed throughout the city of Boston. The site-specific outdoor performance TURF, created by DeAnna and Ingrid in 2002 in collaboration with at-risk youth, was awarded the "Boston Peace Party Community Star Award" from the City of Boston for outstanding work in fostering peaceful neighborhoods. In June of 2014, KAIROS Dance Theater became the official “Company in Residence” at Medicine Wheel Productions. This official collaboration will engage youth who are in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction and who are involved in the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services; offer jobs for dancers in KAIROS as Teaching Artists; afford Medicine Wheel Youth the opportunity to be trained by dance professionals; and create opportunities to collaborate and perform together. BATTLE, KAIROS’ first in-residence performance premiered at The Strand Theater in Dorchester in August 2014.
World-renowned artist, Michael Dowling, founded Medicine Wheel Productions (MWP) as a nonprofit organization in 2000. Initially a focused painter, Dowling began shifting his work to public art installations in response to a call he felt from the community. Through this transition, he repeatedly experienced the phenomenology of art. One such experience happened in the early years of the “Medicine Wheel” installation. Participants in the annual 24-hour vigil were invited to carry in stones and symbolically place them in the center of the room as a way to commemorate the AIDS epidemic and acknowledge the overarching sense of loss. Michael saw two women slowly pushing in a very large stone and walked up to them to see if they needed help. In response, one of the women said, “No! You don’t understand. Her son, my nephew passed away from AIDS. This is our burden to bear. We need to do this alone.” Their participation in the installation allowed them to grieve, but more importantly, heal and move forward.
Another experience unfolded in1996. Dowling began working with a group of 18 teens that called themselves “Southie Survivors” because they had lost so many friends to drug overdose and suicide. Under Dowling’s mentorship, they channeled their grief and anger into public artwork, creating a Celtic Cross Memorial on an abandoned lot called No Man’s Land, a site well known for its drug activity and violence. The impact of this project on the youth was profound—they were provided with a non-threatening platform to heal, express their grief, and in turn, become change agents in their neighborhood.
Today, Medicine Wheel Productions is a thriving arts organization that is transforming individuals and communities from the inside out.