Photo of Esther Ouray by Nick Lethert. All other photos in the composite by Wing Young Huie
Get your endorphins running tonight in a laughter workshop led by artist Esther Ouray at the Third Place Gallery, where you'll be led through a fun evening that explores wellness and community building. A part of the Arts on Chicago Project, a Pillsbury House + Theatre initiative, tonight's workshop is part of an ongoing exploration by Ouray, called In the Pursuit of Happiness.
Photo by Nick Lethert
In addition to being an independent performing and teaching artist who often works with In the Heart of the Beast, Ouray is also a certified laughing yoga teacher. However, for this project, she doesn't necessarily call what she's doing laughter yoga, in part as an effort to have it be more accessible to people that wouldn't go to a yoga class. Still, she notes that there are health benefits to laughter, including physical activity, community building, and stress relief.
The title of the project, In the Pursuit of Happiness, has to do with Ouray's belief that everyone has a right to be happy, but in order to be happy, people have to practice it. "In the environment we live in, if we don't practice it, it's hard to come by," she says. With happiness comes empowerment and a strong base for social change.
After the initial funding for Arts on Chicago from ArtPlace ran out, the program got additional funds from BlueCross BlueShield with a stipulation that the art projects have some health and wellness focus.
Third Place gallery director Stephanie Rogers says that Ouray's project offers an innovative way to approach health and wellness. The workshop includes warm-ups, followed by a bunch of laughing. But it's not about telling jokes. Rather, Ouray guides participants into the laughter in a physical way. Though it's non-verbal, the workshop also stresses getting people to connect to each other.
The project will continue through the first half of June, and events will be held around the neighborhood, with a culminating happening with other Arts on Chicago artists on June 14. In addition to the laughter workshops, the In the Pursuit of Happiness project also includes laughter flashmobs, choreographed led by Ouray's collaborator Hannah Kuluvar Esparza, the first of which takes place on this Sunday at Powderhorn Park by the Gazebo. The Mother's Day event begins at 4:30 p.m. and ends at 6 p.m.
IF YOU GO:
In the Pursuit of Happiness
Tonight at 7 p.m.
The Third Place Gallery
3730 Chicago Ave. S., Studio B, Minneapolis
$5 suggested donation