Increasing Accessibility: Nourishing Food and the Performing Arts

Dec 20, 2021 | Food Access

A collaboration rooted in access

Back in September, a dance student at the Univeristy of Kentucky reached out to us at FoodChain about a project for her Senior Seminar Dance course with a focus on Community Engagement. She told us she connected with our mission to educate community members on sustainable agriculture practices and increase confidence in the kitchen regardless of age or background, and that she, as a dancer, has the same views regarding art and accessibility. 

Meet Caitlin Espinueva: a newly graduated (yay!) dance and pre physical therapy major at the University of Kentucky. 

In her own words, ““Healthy food is often perceived to be exclusive to those who can afford it, similar to how art, specifically performance art (such as dance!) is viewed in the same light. Dance and food, at its most historical root, are both forms of celebratory behavior, so why not return to this simple fact and enjoy them in their purest forms? Through combining fine arts with fine dining, I want this to give community members a way to […] foster an environment of connection.” 

Caitlin pioneered a 2-part community engagement project with a focus on education and connection for the greater Lexington community. Volunteering alongside FoodChain’s Director of Education and Outreach, Kristin Hughes, Espinueva taught movement classes to Russell Cave Elementary School in the Fayette County Public School District for the education portion of the project. Curriculums covered classical ballet arm and feet positions and rhythm exercises.

Following the movement class came a cooking class led by Kristin Hughes, which Espinueva took footage gestures and motifs of the students from recipe preparation, movement class takeaways, and overall reactions as inspiration for her choreographic film. Caitlin has illustrated the inspiration for her choreography from the cooking class and explains specific movements she emphasized in the dance she created. 

For the connection portion, Espinueva volunteered at FoodChain’s Nourish Lexington Program, a program that provides free hot and nourishing meals to the Lexington community. In addition to volunteering, Espinueva’s dance film was also showcased to the queue of community members during the meal handout, increasing accessibility of exposure to performance arts.

Check out her energizing and inspiring video. Thank you so much, Caitilin, for using your art to break down barriers to access to food. We’re in complete awe of your talent!

Be sure to play the video with the sound on!

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