Established to foster and instill individual growth, to develop a discerning sense of inquiry, and to explore an area of concentration that brings excitement and sensitivity of wonder in a student, the Fletcher Bright Fellowship for Inspiring Artistic and Community Engagement has been awarded to a rising GPS senior (or seniors) since 2019. Last spring, Rowan Espy ’23 was named the 2022-23 recipient following a rigorous application process. Rowan’s proposal outlined her plan to showcase mental health topics through dance.
Following months of preparation and hard work, Rowan’s curated dance showcase will take place on Friday, March 24, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, March 25, at 1 p.m., at Barking Legs Theater. The Space Between
will feature dances from organizations such as Girls Preparatory School, Scenic City Dance, Baylor School, Ballet Esprit, Center Stage Dance Company, the Civic Ballet of Chattanooga, and more, and will include styles from ballet to Bollywood. Proceeds will benefit the AIM Center
, a local organization that provides psychosocial rehabilitation services featuring a clubhouse program that enhances recovery in living, working, learning, and social environments.
Rowan’s idea for her project came from the feelings of loneliness, grief, and isolation she saw herself and others experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She explained, “The pandemic caused a mental health crisis, particularly among youth. Some therapists have described it as a ‘second pandemic’ that has intensified depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.”
She continued, “Despite this increase, openly discussing mental health is considered taboo, so the subject does not receive the attention it needs, and people who need help go without treatment. Those suffering from mental health illnesses often do not receive the same level of care or are not taken as seriously as those with physical illnesses. Because of this stigma, many people suffer in silence.”
Dancing since age five, Rowan says the art form has always been a source of comfort and refuge for her, and she hopes it can be used to shed light on mental health topics in the community. “The goal of this project is to expose people to the issue of mental health illness, encourage the de-stigmatization of it, and demonstrate how participation in the arts can be freeing to those who suffer from it.”
To purchase tickets for Friday, March 24, at 7 p.m., click here
To purchase tickets for Saturday, March 25, at 1 p.m., click here
In addition to support from the Fletcher Bright Fellowship, Rowan’s project is also supported by an ArtsBuild Community Cultural Connections grant.