A descendent of German, Swedish, and Chickasaw American Indian ancestry, Tess Eckert is an educator and expressive arts practitioner, using dance and other creative modalities for community-building, youth-empowerment and social liberation. Born in the majestic Rocky Mountains of Colorado, to a pilot father and flight attendant mother (also both passionate dancers) you could say Tess has the love of travel and movement deep in her bones. This inherited jitter-bug has taken Tess to nearly every continent on the globe, where she has immersed herself in cultural studies, local dance/art forms, and decolonial pedagogy in South America, India, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand.
Tess spent the last seven years living in the Bundjalung Nation on the Far North Coast of NSW, Australia. She worked in a number of different organizational, school, and community settings as a creative artist and a youth worker. Tess has employed her passion for the arts & social justice throughout her work across various sectors; from mixed-ability dance companies to running silent discos for elderly people living with dementia, to mentoring young Indigenous Australian women, and co-creating dance theatre performances with diverse migrant women. All of her projects have been ways to share and transform stories of oppression and resilience through creative embodiment. Having recently moved back to the U.S. from Australia, central to Tess’ work is an investigation of how to create a sense of belonging, safety, and responsibility in and between our inner and outer landscapes, specifically as it relates to healing settler-colonial violence against the sacred feminine.
Tess is currently undertaking a Master of Social Work with a concentration in American Indian & Alaska Native communities at Washington University St. Louis, where she is hoping to explore the intersection of the arts, decolonising methodologies and neuroscience. Tess' artistic practice is strongly informed by many years of training in contemporary dance, 5rhythms®, Contact Improvisation, BodyWeather, and SomaSource.
“My relationship with Melissa Michaels and the Golden Bridge community has supported me in my healing and recovery from a traumatic brain injury, sexual trauma, and on an ongoing basis with healing from whiteness and wounding around my sexual and cultural identity. SomaSource has supported me to liberate my spirit through the power of movement, community, voice and art, and empowered me to embody leadership to support others seeking liberation and connection. Melissa’s dedicated mentorship has supported me to find my own unique dance on and off the dance floor, which has given me the strength, tools and ability to read my own inner compass in order to better show up in solidarity, with resilience and humility and to walk alongside other humans in the spirit of collaboration and restoration of balance and well-being in the body, mind, soul; in our relationships with one another; and with the earth. I am deeply humbled and grateful for the privilege of this opportunity, to use my life to show up more fully for the rest of life, which begins with and will carry on through the health of the divine feminine.”
Lines in the Sand: Re(Making) Contact
Young woman roaming
Seeking connection and culture
Sitting in circle
Remembering how to listen.