about

Cynthia Winton-Henry

Thank you for checking in here. As the grateful cofounder of the arts-based community practice, InterPlay, my greatest curiosity is learning how to create from body and soul. To this end, I practice as a writer, theologian, educator, artist, and mentor. The Art of Ensoulment course and playbook give expression to what I’ve learned about love of life, playfulness, and how to heed three directives I was given: Clarity of Vision, Efficiency of Energy, and Courage to Love.

My place: I live along Cum Mayo, Roundhouse River (the American River), in Fair Oaks near Sacramento with my husband in a thirty-household community. Cohousing is a grand experiment that allows us to better share life, meals, labor, and resources. I financially support the local Nisenan and the movement to recognize and secure their home.

My credentials include service in churches, nonprofits, universities, grassroots arts community organizing, and teaching at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and Sophia Center in Oakland. As most of my family members navigate addiction with varying levels of recovery, my decades in Alanon are one of my spiritual treasures.

Philosophy

In 1989 I co-founded InterPlay with Phil Porter. Together we designed an improvisational, art-based community-building practice that lifts up the physicality of grace and strengthens each body's wisdom. The InterPlay fundamentals have given me a body-wise language and community grounded in the birthrights of movement, voice, story, and stillness. As the InterPlay community regains our basic artistry, we grow as people who don't take ourselves sooooo seriously. The flexibility and freedom found in our improvisational approach grows from listening to our rganic roots in what body and soul want.

Across Cultures

My greatest longing is to foster freedom in myself and others. As a woman, I take my whiteness upon myself as a condition of my liberation. I'm determined to counter the harm done to people across cultures as I partner with Black, Indigenous, and marginalized guides on behalf of a healthy, earth-centered way of life. Examples of my commitment include renouncing my ordination in the Christian Church. I found that I could not hold holy vows where systemic racism and patriarchy prevail. I still honor my Christian lineage, understanding that a body cannot renounce its history.

Earthwise practices

We are Earth and hopefully not just an invasive species. The interplayful Ensoulment Arts that I teach are countercultural, earth-wise practices. I am vowed to the Tree and River of Life, I heed organic life and the dignity of all beings. As I recognize assaults on the integrity of Creation as death-dealing, my creative and organizing work is committed to the health of body and soul, racial equity and transformation, and Earth Wisdom. I served on the YES board to support young activists, developed InterPlay as an Art and Social Change practice, catalyzed Waking Up White workshops, and toured a workshop called Changing the Race Dance with Soyinka Rahim to share understandings and misunderstandings of socialized systemic racism, and developed an InterPlay Art Responder Practice to realign people to the beauty of a place after trauma.

The Key–Community

Finding a healthy alignment of body, soul, dance, and all creative expression lives at the center of my research. That can never be an individual endeavor as body, soul, dance, and art intersect in social, energetic, and even cosmic ways. I am grateful to so many communities, including being honored with UCLA”s President’s Fellowship to learn about dance and spirituality in Sierra Leone, West Africa, receiving the M.Div from the Pacific School of Religion and doctoral support to study “Theology and the Arts” at the Graduate Theological Union and "Multicultural Education" at the Western Institute for Social Research. Pacific School of Religion honored my work with InterPlay with the Distinguished Alumni Award and the Center for Art, Theology, and Education Arts Minister of the Year award. My InterPlay colleagues continue to be my greatest inspiration.

Service

Highlights in my experience include pastoring a church, choreographing and performing with Body and Soul Dance Company, co-directing Wing It! Performance Ensemble, and teaching students at Holy Names University’s Sophia Center, Pacific School of Religion, Spiritual Directors International, Spiritual Directors of Color, University of Creation Spirituality, the National Chaplains Association, the International Expressive Arts Association, Out and Equal Workplace Advocates, the United Religions Initiative, and the Parliament of World Religions. I am blessed to have been in the presence of indigenous peoples in India, Africa, and the United States and to bear witness to teachings that transcend anything we know in the west.

My Certifications

As a self-taught folk artist, I make icons, wreaths, and shrines. Take a peak.

Writings

My books include Chasing the Dance of Life: A Faith Journey by Apocryphile Press, Dance: The Sacred Art: Discovering the Joy of Movement by Turner Publishing, and Move: What the Body Wants by Woodlake Press. “Grace Operatives: How Body Wisdom Saved the World” in Phenomenologies of Grace edited by Marcus Bussey by Paraclete Press. I self- publish The Self-Care Playbook for the Art of Ensoulment that accompanies the year-long course.

I offer holy bows to The Tree of Life,  the living wisdom of first peoples, my ancestors, the Archangel Metatron, and  Jesus. Important guides include Ruth St, Denis, Thomas Merton, Doug Adams, Phyllis Magal, Katrina BrowneSheila CollinsCarla de SolaBarbara ElliotJake Empereur,  Ruth King, Robert MacAfee BrownConnors McConvilleRoberta MeyerSoyinka RahimJudith RockGinny Whitelaw,  Flora Wuellner and teachers at Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley Psychic Institute, friends of Lois, creators of the 12 steps, Operation Crossroads Africa,  and more loved ones than I can name.

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