Janaki Banting - Swallowing Clouds Assistant Facilitator (Dance) Janaki Banting is a mover, musician, and…
Olivia DiDio – Swallowing Clouds Apprentice Facilitator
Olivia DiDio began her dance training at 4 years old in Bolton, Ontario at Joanne Chapman’s School of Dance. There, she studied various forms of dance such as ballet, jazz, contemporary, and hip-hop. In high school, Olivia graduated with an Arts Advantage certificate that specialized in dance. Olivia is also in the process of completing her BFA Degree in Dance Education at York University and getting her teaching degree. Olivia has performed in multiple York Dance shows over the years and hopes to work with more choreographers and creators once she graduates! Besides dancing, Olivia also enjoys photography, listening to music, and her overgrowing collection of plushies. Olivia is extremely excited to work as an Apprentice Facilitator as she enjoys working with and teaching young children about the importance of the arts.
From when I was younger, I always had a negative mindset when it came to studio dancing, because of the toxicity that comes with studio dance. This ideology of needing to look a certain way or having to dance a certain way to “be the best” was drilled into my brain and left a very heavy impact on me as a child and as who I am today. With Swallowing Clouds, I don’t have to worry about being the best, or being in a competition amongst my peers. Swallowing Clouds is a place where I feel accepted, not just accepting of me, but accepting of everyone. The environment here is so welcoming, full of equity, and it feels like a respectful, sweet community where everyone gets along and is there to have fun and spend time getting to know one another. Not only that, but it’s a community where no ideas get shot down, where voices are heard, and where individuality and creativity are heavily encouraged.
With the pandemic, and being stuck at home, I lost a lot of myself and my creative process as an artist. Not dancing every day, or creating art, even just lack of human interaction made me extremely unhappy, and it felt like that was never going to change. However, once I was invited to be an assistant facilitator for Swallowing Clouds, it felt like I had reached the light at the end of the tunnel. Everything that I felt like I had lost had suddenly resurfaced. Teaching kids, having conversations with other facilitators, expressing myself through art and creativity were all things that sparked my creative flow back. It was something I was yearning for and had finally gotten.
I think what I appreciate the most when working with Swallowing Clouds is seeing how we, as individuals can come together and create, inspire, and learn from one another. Especially learning from the kids, I often forget how knowledgeable and honest they can be with not only us but with themselves too. It feels like such a privilege to teach kids how it’s okay to create and be inspired based on their individuality. Being that at other arts institutions, it’s often the opposite, like how I had said, it’s more about this idea of being the same, and following a syllabus. Whereas with Swallowing Clouds, it’s the complete opposite, and that message alone inspires me to create, and to continue working as an assistant facilitator.