Story by Frances Figart
Meeting Christine Garvin, you would never imagine that she was stricken with chronic illness at the age of 23. Refusing to let it limit her, she used the challenge as a springboard for a journey of healing that has culminated in her inspirational movement-centered Asheville business: Christine Garvin Dance+Transform (CGD+T).
“I decided to work on a lot of my healing on my own,” she says. This led to a Holistic Health masters program at John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, California, and a certification in Nutrition Education at Bauman College for Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts in Berkeley. “I embarked on a path of healing from within—and helping others to do the same.”
Garvin has danced her whole life and performed for most of her twenties. But it was only five years ago that she finally embraced the role of dance instructor, amid much prodding from friends and colleagues.
“After I started teaching, a couple of my classes developed into performance opportunities,” she says. “Before we knew it, we were putting on large scale shows at venues like The Grey Eagle, The Altamont Theatre, Isis Music Hall and The Orange Peel.”
Having worked at women-focused social justice nonprofits for nearly a decade after graduating from UNC Chapel Hill, Garvin says she has always felt her purpose is to raise women up, believing cooperation is a much more fruitful place for women to be than in competition.
“This belief system quickly informed my teaching style, and became a central component of my dance school,” she says. “The idea is that all women—and men—can move, can feel good in their bodies right where they are in this moment, and can be a part of a supportive community.”
Based in downtown Asheville’s Colourfield studio, dance classes offered by CGD+T include Hip Hop, Jazzy Showgirl, Modern, Cabaret, Conditioning, GoGo, Stretch, Yoga, BellyBalance, Qi Gong and Performance. They are open to anyone and most require no prior experience.
“I had been looking for a sense of greater community and for a fun dance class and, when I took my first Jazzy Showgirl class from her, I got both,” says Hillary Holmes, a designer at Hillytree LLC. “Her choreography style is interesting, layered and yet easy to learn. Her take on life and spiritual beliefs are apparent in all that she does.”
Last year, Garvin developed a signature program called Metamorphosis that “takes participants on a 12-week self-healing journey using mind, body and soul techniques that have scientific backing and are on the cutting edge of alternative health.” The second round of the program begins this month and another will start in the spring.
Also beginning this month is Level I CGD+T dance certification class in which participants have opportunities to substitute teach and attend local and regional events, as well as learn methods for improving health, stamina and mood by unifying body, mind and emotions. Going on to Level II certification qualifies them to teach as a CGD+T instructor.
“Christine is warm, charismatic and creates an open space where you can be vulnerable yet feel loved and respected,” says CGD+T dance instructor and marketing coordinator Michelle Grasty-Colont. “Working with her has guided me to a deeper peace and understanding of myself.”
Garvin loves witnessing the moments when something ‘clicks’ for a student, “whether that be a dance step, advanced choreography or understanding an aspect of herself that she previously didn’t—it’s what keeps me going.”
She donates a percentage of CGD+T’s monthly earnings to some local or national non-profit dedicated to social justice. During 2016, donations went out to the ACLU, relief for the Gatlinburg fires and Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the Dakotas. Recipients for 2017 will include Planned Parenthood and the Asheville City Schools Foundation.
“Christine is kind, loving and all-inclusive, encouraging women to grow and find enrichment doing what they love,” says Amber Kleid, BellyBalance and yoga instructor at CGD+T. Her colleague Grasty-Colont agrees: “Christine has given me opportunities to perform at my best level, both on the stage and in my personal life,” she says.
Though Garvin has accomplished so much and worked through many of what she calls her own “blockages,” she still sees healing as a life-long endeavor. “It’s been a wild ride, but I feel as if I’ve finally been able to bridge my love of health and healing with dance.”
To find out what it’s all about, you can attend a free Winter Workout Extravaganza at Colourfield Saturday, January 7, from 1-3 p.m. Guests will enjoy hors d’oeuvres, wine and sparkling water while meeting instructors and previewing a sampling of the winter class lineup.
Colourfield studio is at 54 Ravenscroft Drive in downtown Asheville’s South Slope. There is free parking. Enrollment for the Spring Metamorphosis program begins now and enrollment in winter classes (that are not full) is open through January 9. Learn more at christinegarvin.com, by calling 828.548.0698, e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.