ACT III Survivor Empowerment project

The ACT III Survivor Empowerment project was a collaboration between Maura Garcia Dance and the Metropolitan Organization Countering Sexual Assault (MOCSA).  Maura Garcia began choreographing ACT III after learning about the use of organized rape camps as a weapon of war during Balkan Peninsula conflicts in the latter part of 20th century. The horrible, and all too common, association of rape and war led her to think about attitudes towards rape survivors and war heroes. One group is honored while the other is shamed. The stigma attached to rape survivors amplifies the horror of the act, leaving many without any respite from abuse. ACT III considers female survivors of rape and asks; What if all women were trained and prepared as warriors? What if survivors of rape were lauded as war heroes?

Garcia proposed setting ACT III on a group of rape survivors from the community and MOCSA agreed to inform their clients and invite interested survivors.  Over the course of several months the group gathered for dance workshops and to learn the choreography.  Garcia thought that a supportive environment like the  University of Missouri's "Take Back the Night" anti-sexual violence rally would be an ideal place to present the piece.  The project culminated with the group of survivors performing before a supportive crowd.

“Every Thursday night, a group of women, all survivors of sexual assault, get together not to talk about their experiences, but to dance about them. The women participate in a movement class considered “cutting edge” therapy for adult survivors of sexual assault. It was created by Mixed Blood Woman Contemporary Dance Theater, founded by dancer/choreographer Maura Michelle Garcia to communicate to audiences “with clarity, invention and passion.” ... 

“As a therapist, I can tell you it’s on the cutting edge of treatment, the idea of getting people involved in movement,” says Rene McCreary, director of clinical services at MOCSA. “Talk therapy is great, effective, but we also know there are other things, such as yoga and movement that can be important to treating sexual assault victims. Research is now showing how the use body movement increases the efficacy of treatment and enhances the healing process, particularly for those who have been diagnosed with complex PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).” 

This opportunity has allowed women from all walks of life to express themselves through dance, often times for the first time. Many of these women find the experience physically challenging while being very emotionally supportive and freeing. Garcia’s work has created an opportunity to utilize the group’s energy to support the healing of these courageous women.” 
Rene McCreary, MS, LPC 
Director of Clinical Services 

"During the rally, students made posters, listened to speakers and watched contemporary dance company Mixed Blood Woman perform a symbolic dance...Maura Michelle Garcia, Mixed Blood Woman artistic director, said she choreographed the dance as a demonstration freeing women from the stigma of rape. She performed the dance with four other sexual assault survivors, saying the dance can have a healing affect. "We’re coming out of the closet as survivors, as heroines and warriors," Garcia said. "I wanted an army of people to testify." 
Linda Friedel, The Wednesday Sun