Sep 24, 4:00 PM EDT

On Mental Health and Movement

On Mental Health and Movement 

Whether looking at the science behind movement, such as increases in dopamine levels, or using movement to express personal narratives and heal inherent trauma, the mutually beneficial relationship between mental health and movement is undeniable. 

Join us for a panel discussion where we will investigate the intersections of mental health and dance through the lens of art, creativity and science. 


Shawn Bracke is a versatile dancer, choreographer and visual artist, creating movement for stage, film and television. His work is story-based and aims to inspire audiences to think critically and feel deeply.

His aesthetic stems from his strong technical training and a professional career that immersed in the commercial and concert dance worlds. His extensive training in Contemporary, Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Hip-hop and Vernacular styles have been integral to his unique movement. Shawn draws from experience with improvisational acting techniques to create a heightened emotional state with his work.

Having spent time living in, London UK, Milan, Vancouver and now in Toronto, Canada. Shawn has gained credits working with major brands.

Esie Mensah is a dancer, choreographer and movement director. 

Esie brings her mastery in storytelling to audiences as diverse as her experience. From working with megastars like Rihanna, Drake and Arcade Fire, to historied brands of Coca Cola, Luminato, TIFF, Shaw Festival and 98.1 CHFI (to name a few), Esie Mensah’s creations shows no sign of limits or slowing down.

For her own work, Esie has committed to using Afrofusion to explore more personal narratives of her Ghanaian heritage, blackness, and belonging, and has created works ZAYO and the Dora Award-nominated Shades, a piece that uncovers the process of healing from shadeism in the Black community.

Recently Esie and Black Stars Collective were amongst the Canadian Contingency who performed at Panafest 2019, a Ghanaian festival that honors the mass tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade.

Jocelyn Lai is a consulting pediatric physiotherapist, dancer and former figure skater and actor.

In her physiotherapist role for the school board, she collaborates and consults with occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, psychologists, social workers, child and youth workers, behaviour therapists, teachers, school staff, and treatment centres, to promote safe access, maximal integration, and participation for students with special needs with various conditions such cerebral palsy, developmental delay/disabilities, amongst other conditions with various fine and gross motor and sensory challenges. Jocelyn has previously worked with an orthopaedic, oncological, and pelvic health population, and she continues to incorporate her experiences from these practices within her day to day. Professionally, she strives to naturally incorporate concepts of attunement, co-regulation, connection, and the poly-vagal theory within the medical model of westernized practices to bring forth a deeper compassion, understanding, and respect within her consultation.

In her spare time, you can find her travelling the world (during non-Covid times), outdoors either cycling or paddle boarding and always on an ever-long quest to find the next best tacos.

About Mary-Lyn Kieffer

Mary-Lyn Kieffer is a mental health advocate and Director of Made of Millions Foundation, Canada. She oversees all event production, digital programming, advocacy and fundraising initiatives taking place in Canada. Prior to her advocacy work, she was a marketing and business development professional in both the financial and legal industries, as well as an event producer, producing educational events for executives from Fortune 500 companies. Mary-Lyn holds a Master's Degree and Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Economics and Finance. 

In 2018 she left the corporate world after experiencing severe symptoms of OCD. Her personal experience opened her eyes to the lack of accessible mental health care, and drove her to seek out advocacy initiatives that allowed her to give back to the community. In addition to her work at Made of Millions, Mary-Lyn is an active member of the Toronto OCD community. In 2018, she completed the Peer Support Training program at Mood Disorders Association of Ontario. Using her knowledge to help others, she co-facilitates the Obsessive Compulsive Anonymous Support Group, as well as an OCD peer support group held at Sunnybrook Hospital.

About Ask the Advocates

Millions and millions of people around the world live with mental illness, but their stories are not all the same. They come from different places, cultures, communities and countries. They like different things, have different kinds of friends, and cope with their symptoms in different ways. When talking about mental health, it's important that we highlight these differences and explore how they shape our experiences. Mental health narratives should be as diverse and unique as we are.

Ask the Advocates is an ongoing Q&A series with outspoken mental health sufferers from around the world. Guests will open up about their experiences living with a wide range of conditions and symptoms, and answer your questions about pain, growth, healing, treatment and more. Before each episode, spend some time learning about the scheduled guest and come prepared with questions that are relevant to what they've been through.

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