Inaugural LoGala offers a host of activities


Published: Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 10:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 10:28 p.m.

After a short breathing exercise, Dr. James Porter, a mental health counselor who also holds a degree in theater, asked participants to play out a quick succession of different roles, which he called identity flexibility.

Taking part in Saturday's inaugural LoGala event at Gainesville's Loga Springs Academy as part of National Forgiveness Day, the group of six people walked in a circle, making eye contact with one another. One moment they were grunting and stomping around, acting out a gorilla, and a moment later, they were a bird, waving their arms while some whistled, making high-pitched chirps.

Next they wore scowls as they acted out being an evil overlord. Another moment later and they were holding out their arms out as compassionate givers.

“I think we should tolerate whatever is going on in our life,” Porter said. “We should tolerate the emotions and circumstances that are going on in life because they are there. We should practice [healthy] behaviors … and in order to do [that] we need to stop wasting time fighting the … emotions that come along with [life]. Humans like good emotions too much, and we dislike negative emotions too much.”

When the group was asked what they thought they could take home from Saturday's psychodrama, Kevin Kless quickly responded: “Empathy.”

“I thought it was pretty cool,” he said. “The whole process — I think he delicately set up an atmosphere where people [were] just doing little exercises slowly — kind of opened up a lot of people so [they] could kind of feel like a kid again. And that was a cool feeling.”

Loga Springs Academy, a day school for gifted children on Northeast 16th Avenue, held its first LoGala in partnership with the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding. The event also served to make the community aware that the Loga Springs Studio is an open space for classes and events.

National Forgiveness Day is one of several forgiveness days that takes place in the summer months to promote the healing power of forgiveness, according to Karen Porter, director of the academy.

“It's basically [about] people coming together to forgive and to think about how to forgive,” she said. “I think it might have been started [by] a Christian center group, but it seems pretty [secular] to me.”

Upon entering the academy, participants were greeted by a whiteboard asking them to write a statement on a scrap of paper forgiving someone or asking for forgiveness for themselves.

The instructions went on to ask participants to crumple the paper and place it in an accompanying basket so it could be burned later during the event — symbolizing the letting go of that resentment by releasing it to the smoke.

As they entered, participants also passed a large paper mural with the word forgiveness colorfully drawn across it along with the image of two people hugging.

“Our mission statement is all about peace and equality, and promoting peace is what we do,” Karen Porter said. “And in order to have peace, you have to start with forgiveness. If you can't get past that, you're pretty much stuck.”

As part of LoGala, an aerial act featured performers from S-Connection Aerial & Equestrian Arts, who hung in mid-air in various positions atop the aerial silks and performed flips upon the trapeze. Other members of the group performed tricks with hula hoops, magnetic hoops and batons while standing on the ground in front of the crowd.

The group Jazzology played jazz standards, funk and Latin jazz while those attending LoGala got the opportunity to ride the trapeze and learn some tricks for $1.

Throughout the event, those in attendance could partake in arts and craft activities provided by the Repurpose Project, which provided repurposed items with which could create whatever they liked.

Although the event was free, donations were welcomed with proceeds going to the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding.

Rachel Hofer, a counselor with the academy who organized the event, said LoGala may become a more frequent event.

“This might be a monthly thing where we have performance artists and artists show their work on the Saturday after ArtWalk,” she said.

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