Events with R2ISE founder Alexia Jones explore role of arts in recovery

By Emma Yarbrough | Emory Report | Sept. 12, 2018

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Facing drug addiction, Alexia Jones found healing in dance, a recovery method she now shares with others. She comes to campus Thursday through Saturday for dance performances, a workshop and a Creativity Conversation.

Alexia Jones had a promising career as a professional dancer when a drug addiction brought her life to a screeching halt. Jones’ faith and passion for dance played a large role in her healing.

“Early in my recovery process, I started dancing again. Alone with God and from that place of deep discovery, I found dance to be the vehicle through which I found recovery,” says Jones, who used her experience to develop a process she calls the Beracha method.

“This method focuses on passion, strength and allowing others to share their stories through their unique artistic expressions,” she explains.

On Friday and Saturday, the Emory Dance Program welcomes Jones and her organization R2ISE to campus for two performances of “Chronicles of Hope,” featuring a diverse group of people challenged with mental health and substance abuse disorders along with their allies performing stories of hope, courage and recovery. 

In addition, Jones will participate in a Creativity Conversation on Thursday and conduct a workshop on The Art of Cultural Agility on Friday.

“We have never presented anything about healing,” says Lori Teague, director of the Emory Dance Program. “Movement is a communicator. It heals.”

Teague experienced the healing power of movement and Jones’ therapeutic skill first-hand when she observed a rehearsal for “Chronicles of Hope” earlier this summer. “Her level of sensitivity is amazing to watch,” says Teague of Jones.

For Jones, the work she does through R2ISE is just as nourishing for her as it is for those coming to her for guidance. “I watch my peers find their voice, increase their confidence, share their stories and rediscover their strengths. At R2ISE we embrace our recovery. We are restored, inspired, supported and we are evolving.”

With opiate addiction reaching epidemic levels and several well-publicized suicides happening in recent months, the work of R2ISE is perhaps more relevant than ever, especially on college campuses where many students are at an age when drug abuse and mental health disorders often first surface.

That fact is not lost on Teague, who says she has seen students struggle with these sorts of challenges during her time as a professor at Emory. 

“I know what it is for this to happen,” she explains. “I don’t always know what’s most effective for students who are struggling, but I know that movement is helpful to them.”

Teague hopes that bringing Jones and “Chronicles of Hope” to campus will show students who may be going through difficult times that there are resources out there that can help. “We have to keep putting it in front of them so they know the resources available to them in this community and on campus,” she says. 

“The stigma surrounding addiction and mental health has cost many people their lives,” Jones agrees. “We find our work to be necessary in a world where so many are suffering silently.” 

The work will continue for Jones and R2ISE after their stay on campus. Jones and her R2ISE community meet for a women’s gathering every Tuesday evening and for a community group every Thursday evening. Both meetings take place at 6 p.m. every week in the Core Dance Studio on Decatur Square.

“We come together to create a safe place where people can heal and maintain their wellness through the arts,” says Jones. “I have seen miracles. I have seen many find their voices and rediscover their gifts.”