The Movement Kitchen is a community space for movement, therapy and Ayurveda services. TMK was established in Saigon, Vietnam in 2015 and is currently located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Symbolism of The Movement Kitchen
They say that the kitchen is the heart of the home. It is a symbol of warmth, comfort, and security. It is where the meals are created – it fuels the bodies, minds and souls of friends, families and communities all over the world. Kitchens are not sedate and quiet rooms. They are rooms filled with energy, aroma and texture.
The kitchen has always been a symbol of many things: the place where we nourish ourselves, where we come together, celebrate important milestones, share experiences, and create new understandings. It is a place often associated with the word conviviality; a word that means festivity, joviality, cordiality and friendliness. Regardless of other differences, all cultures across the world (and through time) view the kitchen with the same significance. The kitchen itself, once tucked away from sight, has become the center; the place where we do many things, where we carry on rituals and traditions, create memories, tell stories and live important moments of everyday life.
This is the embodiment of TMK as a human and as a place to gather, support, and transform. I encourage all humans to join me in this space to build solidarity and create movement, memories and connections of a lifetime within our communities and with each other.
To resilience, gumption and collective effervescence - welcome to The Movement Kitchen
Emily Navarra-Meftah aka The Movement Kitchen (she/her/they) is a NAMA Certified Ayurvedic Counselor, Chef & Ayurvedic Yoga Practitioner / movement educator & therapist / dancer & choreographer / producer / artivist / conflict resolution artist. She holds a B.A. in Dance Studies from the University of South Florida and a Certificate of Completion in Authentic Movement Training from the European Society of Authentic Movement in Munich, Germany. For the past 14 years, she has worked as a dance movement therapist and authentic movement educator facilitating one on one healing sessions for refugees of The Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East. From 2015-2017, Emily designed a reconciliation program for American Veterans involved in the My Lai Massacre as a means to create a time for forgiveness with surviving family members of this massacre in Vietnam. This program was funded by the Public Broadcasting Service.
Emily has worked under various choreographers such as Iñaki Azpillaga and Wim Vandekeybus (Ultima Vez) and Lloyd Newson (DV8 Physical Theatre) as well as presented her work in the United States, Europe, Southeast Asia, North Africa and the United Kingdom. She is the founder of The Melting Pot, an Art, Dance and Music Festival held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam which has served as a platform for the arts, encourages engagement in cultural exchange and has brought greater access to the Arts for the general public of HCMC since 2011. She formed Standpoint Theories in 2012, an international experimental multimedia performance collective. From 2013-2015, it transformed into its next installation – “Legends of Vietnam” which retold six Vietnamese legends through dance, visual art, text and live music featuring singer/songwriter Le Cat Trong Ly. Emily was featured and recognized in the Contemporary Performance Almanac 2015 for Standpoint Theories. In 2015, she founded The Movement Kitchen - where she offers creative community outreach experiences and movement based workshops for the general public with an aim to spread knowledge about movement as a therapy, bring cultures together and encourage self-expression.
She was a TED Talks keynote speaker in 2016 speaking on the topic of The Importance of Collaboration in the Arts. Additionally, she is the recipient of four Civil Society grants from the United States Consulate of Ho Chi Minh City. She resided overseas for a over decade in North Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia - and moved back to Chicago in late 2018. After her move back stateside, she co-founded Holding Common Ground: Pathways to Cultural Exchange in Vietnam - a cyclical dance seminar that brings together dance artists and scholars from the USA and Vietnam to participate in panel discussions, lectures, workshops and dance performances that celebrate cultural diplomacy. It reinforces the US/Vietnamese legacy of reconciliation and continues to build these relationships through cultural diplomacy for the future of Art, education and freedom of expression in Vietnam.
THE MOVEMENT KITCHEN'S PROCESS + VALUES + MISSION
My practice is focused on the influences of culture and exchange. As a creator, my work focuses on the intent and standard of basic fundamentals and explores all things primitive. Primitive thinking, primitive methods, primitive movements. Through my community based work, I am known for signaling to neighborhoods that through movement and community - change is possible. My work is about reaching communities, revealing what’s possible and providing an outlet for positive and productive actions to take shape in order to increase communal positivity. I dedicate time to creating an environment of warmth and safety to gather, move, communicate and exchange. As an educator, I support the process of developing new work as well as educate and enrich communities through access to the creative process in a setting that encourages experimentation and development of one's craft.
I believe in deeply engaging with communities through cultural exchange and public programming. I strive to create work that celebrates diversity and inclusivity. I believe cultural exchanges are an integral part of cultural diplomacy. I believe in establishing, developing and sustaining relations with foreign states and peoples by way of culture, community, art and education. I believe artists’ voices are needed in all areas of our society, and exchanges are one great way to infiltrate ideas as an artist into new territory. I believe that through cultural exchange and public outreach programming, communities can deliver their work to new audiences to create more change within culture.
“Projects led by local artists show a community that they themselves have agency and impact.” ~THE MOVEMENT KITCHEN