Caryn started creative movement dance classes at 2 years old. Dance always brought a joy and a connection to others for Caryn. When she was old enough, she began to assist her dance teachers and as she entered college she sought out a minor in Dance Education. During her college years, she began to explore Dance/movement Therapy. In 2001, she attended a summer on the Duke campus at the American Dance Festival, where she learned from world renowned facilitators of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. This solidified her love of bringing movement to a broader range of populations. Through her 6 week intensive classes, she worked with people who had disabilities, individuals who were homeless, and adults who exhibited schizophrenia. Moving and exploring concepts to create stories through movement left Caryn in awe and ignited a desire to make this her life's work. From that point on, Caryn continued to immerse her self in ways to bring "dance" to various populations and learn as much as she could. Throughout the past 20 years, she has learned, interned, volunteered, and worked in a variety of settings: Karios Dance Theatre - Elderly; Abbott NorthWestern Behavioral Health Unit - Adults who exhibit mental health disorders; University of River Falls, WI - received BS in Sociology & minor in Dance Education; Wesley Institute Sydney, Australia - took classes and worked with children, adults with disabilities, and adults exhibiting Schizophrenia; Gillette Children's Hospital; InteractCenter - Adults with Disabilities; World Relief Chicago - Refugee Families; Youth Guidance of Chicago- Inner-City elementary & high-school children; SPACE to Create in the Bahamas - children's summer camp & HOPE U Dance (started by Caryn for children in the Bahamas); MindUp The Hawn Foundation workshop - Mindfulness for Children; Education in Dance & The Related Arts of New York City - early childhood movement classes; 14th St Y of New York City - creative movement class 5-8 year olds; HeadStart of Anoka/Ramsey County - 3-5 year olds; 92nd St Y of New York City Intensive Workshop with Dianne Duggan - Dance for Students with Special Needs; Axis Dance Company, internationally recognized for dancers with & without disabilities - Intensive Workshop in San Francisco; Young Dance Outreach - Boys & Girls Club of Minneapolis, Highland Friendship Club, Bridgeview - middle school & high school students with disabilities, Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Homeschool, Wilder Preschool; S.T.E.P.S. Outreach - Touchstone Mental Health Facility, The Bridge for Youth, Zen Montessori, and Center for Excellence Preschool.
In 2009, Caryn received her Masters in Arts from Columbia College Chicago, and she is currently a registered Dance/movement Therapist, (R-DMT).
Through all these experiences, Caryn learned that there is no movement too small or big. Movement can be on or off rhythm, with hesitation or confidence. Everything is part of the dance. Simply showing up - whether to participate or observe - becomes a part of the story.
The birth of S.T.E.P.S. is a very personal journey. In the winter of 2016-2017, Caryn had been working at HeadStart seeing about 200 students per week, where she conducted a variety of interactive movement sessions with the children and teaching the teachers how to incorporate movement and mindfulness into their classrooms. She was also anticipating the birth of her son, which she envisioned taking place at the MN Birth Center. She had the birth playlist set, the snack bag packed, the aroma therapy sequence was chosen, and how the birth would go played and replayed in her mind. She was told repeatedly childbirth would likely come easily due to the mind-body connection and awareness that was instilled in her. However, since most things out of your control don't occur exactly how you would like them to, neither did the birth of her son. In the end, everyone was healthy after an emergency c-section (11 days after the due date).
Happy as could be with her new son, Karrington Barack, she thought, "How in the world can I go back to work." 3 days after returning home from the hospital, that thought became a reality. She received an email from her contracted job at HeadStart saying, "...due to funding issues we no longer can justify your services, and as of today's date, you will no longer be employed by HeadStart..." (2/8/2017).
Needless to say, the news effected her post-partum recovery. However, it gave space for new ventures and time to be a new mommy. Late into the night, while sitting at her computer, pumping breast milk (which took over her life for 11 months), Caryn began to research outreach movement organizations. One idea led to the next, and each night while the house was quiet and she was awake to pump breast milk for her son, the research become more and more in-depth and an idea took form: S.T.E.P.S. - movement experiences for all.
As most entrepreneurial ventures, S.T.E.P.S. is constantly taking new shape. However, the foundation stays the same: providing movement experiences for all with the intention of integrating social, cognitive, emotional, and physical aspects during movement sessions to increase self awareness.
S.T.E.P.S. is currently offering movement classes and hopes to broaden the variety of interactive classes for pregnant women and children & caregivers. S.T.E.P.S. would love to be a part of more schools and social service agencies, and will soon be offering workshops for early childhood educators.
Lastly, S.T.E.P.S. approaches each session through the lens of Dance/movement Therapy, which means movement can be symbolic, creates cohesion, there is no right or wrong when moving, and the time spent is about being curious. There's an intention to connect the mind-body for an increase in the social, cognitive, emotional, and physical aspects of a person for greater self awareness.