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Celebrating Magnificence in our ‘Ohana: Katharine Harts – A Teacher who Changed my Life

by Olivia Trice

You never know how one experience can change the course of your life. Life is funny that way. We all walk through life on our respective sidewalks, and occasionally our paths cross and life-changing interactions ensue.

I was entering my Senior year of college when my path crossed with Katharine Harts’ at a local yoga studio. She was a substitute instructor for an aerial yoga class that I had quickly grown fond of. Her change in style from the usual class was engaging and fun. This lady would swiftly transition from hanging upside down to standing by a student. We did more than just stretch, we “felt” through the routine. She had a theatricality in the way she flowed through her lesson plan and instructed even the newest of flyers.

At the end of class, I lay in my comfortable cocoon and heard the sentence that would irrevocably change the course of my future. From upside down to right side up, Katharine mentioned, “I will be teaching a weekly aerial dance series at Still & Moving Center.”

Although my zero gravity bliss was interrupted by Katharine’s comment, I remember all my sensations in that moment. It was like awakening from a trance. I could sense curiosity rise within me. I had never heard of aerial dance, but the musical theater kid inside me wanted to know more. Katharine was the first – but certainly not the last – person from whom I’d hear of this magical place that I’ve since come to love.

That night I entered the world of Still & Moving Center’s website. I remember hesitating at the price of the aerial dance series. Although the value made sense for the duration of the course, could my college student budget justify the cost of the series? Was I strong enough to break out of my cocoon? Days went by and I could not stop thinking about the upside-down lady and what could happen if I let the light of theatricality shine through what was one of the more cloudy periods of my life. I wanted to fly so I leaped, my cocoon transforming from a safety net to wings.

I now think of registering for that 8-week series as an investment in my higher self. One of the first lessons Katharine taught me was how to secure myself with a knee-hold — and that teacher-student moment washed away years of fear. With the body awareness and support from Katharine, I could no longer be afraid of falling. By the end of my first 8-week aerial dance series, my wings were widespread and I had a newfound trust in myself.

Katharine served as a leader in the Still & Moving Center aerial program and an orchestrator of the moving world at its still point, almost as soon as she arrived in 2020. Over the years, I enjoyed working creatively with Katharine on many movement-based projects.

I came to learn that at her core Katharine is more than an instructor. She is a visionary director with a mother’s way of guidance. She taught me that not everything has to be planned out and that there is meaning in “feeling through” the music. Her encouragement as an aerial instructor gave me the confidence to call myself a dancer, the experience to call myself a producer, and the freedom to express myself on a swiveling, 360 degree axis.

Katharine produced lively and exquisitely choreographed pieces in the aerial hammock, silks, and lyra. Her students of all ages and experience levels have given recitals and showings at Still & Moving Ceneter’s birthdays, Diwali festivals, and Merry & Bright celebrations. At our most recent birthday, Katharine made a signature appearance all in candy pink as the quintessential Barbie in the aerial hammock!

When not flying, Katharine instructed students in self-massage of the soft tissue (fascia) with the MELT Method. As a Level 3 MELT instructor, she empowered students to alleviate their own pain in a matter of 75 minutes.

In addition to her many trainings in somatic movement techniques, Katharine is a graduate of the Academy of Mindful Movement. We call her “our perpetual learner” because she seeks advancement in everything she does. Her multi-dimensional talents and teaching spirit served Still & Moving Center time and time again as she subbed for a couple dozen teachers of different movement disciplines over the years!

And speaking of theatricality, I heard that before I got to Still & Moving Center, Katharine went toe-to-toe with Al Harrington, the renowned Hawaiian actor, when they performed together at our Diwali performance in an electrically-charged scene.

Knowing all this, we are grateful for the light Katharine has brought to our studio. We proudly send her off with a hui hou as she chases light to a new environment.

Mahalo nui loa to Katharine Harts. I will always remember you as the upside-down lady who altered the course of my life by teaching me to secure myself, no matter how uncomfortable the position. Yes, paths will cross and maybe even disjoin over time, but thanks to you, Katharine, I will remember to point my toes and keep moving forward.

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This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)