Arts Practitioners bring fresh approach to online wellbeing classes during pandemic

Intercultural Roots offers innovative online classes to get well and get active

  • Get Active Online! offers weekly classes in to promote health in body and mind – free to those who can’t afford them
  • Constellations is a 36 session, artist-run course for practitioners to discuss and create art in relation to activism, city and health
  • The classes are run by specialists from across the world, drawing on a wide range of practices from Taoism to physical theatre

@InterculturalR |

Starting on 16th March as an emergency response to Covid-19, Intercultural Roots have been offering free online classes to help people cope physically and mentally with the incredible lifestyle shift that the pandemic has forced upon everyone. From 76 participants in the first week, they reached over 2,500 people in four months. For the next six weeks, they will roll out a new round of these classes which draw on techniques including Traditional Chinese Medicine, Taoism, movement and physical theatre.

The classes and courses are run by experts from all over the world, including Dr Alex Feng from Guangzhou/California, a multi-discipline expert who was instrumental in the legalisation of acupuncture in California. The company is also offering an artist-led workshop series, Constellations, discussing ideas around the relationship between art and three key themes: activism, city and health, starting with Art and Activism. The classes range from £3 to £6, or are free for those who cannot afford them.

The weekly classes include NIA Dance taught by Artistic Director Dr Andrea Maciel.NIA, which could be described as a middle ground between yoga and Zumba, provides aerobic conditioning, body toning, and strength building by using martial art, yoga and dance. Alongside Adriana La Selva, Andrea will also be teaching Bodies in Expression, a session for womenaimed at using physical theatre techniques such as body engagement, and breathing and vocal exercises to increase confidence and self-esteem.

Executive director Dr Alex Boyd will be teaching Daoyin’ Taoist Whole Body Breathing, a breathing practice that strengthen muscles and the whole respiratory system. Alex and Andrea will also be teaching Qigong Dance together, a technique which draws from Taoism and Laban technique.

Other classes include A Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach to Boosting the Immune system, run by renowned teacher Dr Alex Feng, a California based practitioner who was born in Guangzhou. As well as TCM, his extensive practice includes Taoism and a black belt in Judo and Jujitsu.

Dr Andrea Maciel said “This difficult pandemic time has taught us that it has never has been so important to invest in physical, spiritual and mental self-care. Over the last four months, we at Intercultural Roots have been witnessing how art and movement are the most powerful tools to connect people to their own creativity, physical wellness and mental balance”

Executive Director Dr Alex Boyd said “We’re delighted to be able to offer such a diverse range of arts practices made possible thanks to the London Community Response Fund. Our new activities will benefit the artistic community and the broader public creating opportunities for people to connect online in interesting ways even though traditional venues are still closed.”  

Intercultural Roots is a registered charity. Their aims are:

  • To advance the education of the public on the subject of traditional and indigenous embodied arts and to promote research for the public benefit in all aspects of that subject and to publish the useful results
    To advance the cultural heritage of traditional and indigenous embodied arts to benefit peoples throughout the world through research, preservation, sustainment and dissemination
  • To relieve hardship in indigenous communities worldwide, either generally or individually, including through the provision of grants, goods or services.

Listings information

Get Active Online!


From 17 Aug to 25 Sept

FREE – £6

For full detail and to book, visit

Monday                        NIA Dance with Andrea Maciel           

7pm – 8pm

Designed to provide total body conditioning, and bring the positive vibration on your upper body. NIA provides aerobic conditioning, body toning, and strength building by using martial art, yoga and dance art expressive movements in a safe, effective workout suitable for all ages and all levels of ability.

The focus of this class is the sensation of joy dancing and listening to the music. Connect to the sensation of joy as life force, and to use this sensation as stimulation to flood your whole body with vitality and healthy energy.

Tuesday           A Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach to Boosting the Immune System           

5pm – 5.45pm

This class provides a foundation for the practice of Qi gong that is based on TCM – Traditional Chinese Medicine. It includes breathing techniques, self nurturing movements and acupressure techniques. The best defense during these health challenging times is a robust immune system. Dr. Feng will share what is being done in China where Eastern and Western Medicine are combined to promote and maintain health. These are ancient wisdoms developed by Dr. Feng for our modern situation. Participants should wear comfortable clothing that they can move freely in for the practices that can be done from a standing or sitting posture.

Wednesday                  Bodies in Expression

10.00am – 11.30am

Intercultural Roots’ Bodies in Expression group is open to women of all ages and backgrounds. This is a safe environment to welcome and harmonize our differences and empower female energy. 
Adriana and Andrea, who have an extensive background in theatre, performance and therapeutic practices, will facilitate a series of six live & online sessions, within an empathetic, safe and encouraging atmosphere. These will include breathing and vocal exercises, acting games, body engagement, trust and confidence building. Movement and vocal techniques will enable empowerment and expression, developing a sense of inner strength, self-trust & self-projection. Bodies in Expression is a partnership with the art therapy working group comm’on.

Wednesday                  Daoyin’ Taoist Whole Body Breathing

7pm – 8pm

This weekly breath workshop introduces you to Chinese Taoist (Daoist) breathing practices that can be done from a standing or sitting posture. ‘Breath is Life’ and during these challenging times when our respiration is either under threat or in recovery from the virus, very much needed. Daoyin strengthens the whole respiratory system including the muscles that are internal and you do see – literally your ‘hidden power’.

Thursday                     Quigong Dance

7pm – 8.30pm

Nourish your inner-glow, vitality and essence, and learn how to emanate this feeling through movement. When you use your chi (qi) energy and express this through the energising dynamics of contemporary dance, what emerges is a body with an expanded energetic potential.

You will be guided through dance components drawn from Laban/Bartenieff, cellular breathing, release technique and Taoist Qigong “internal alchemy”, combined to allow the chi to move and for you to be fully present in mind and body.

Each session invites you to immerse yourself in natural dance movement while attuned to the continual shifting dialogue with your chi (qi) energy and breath.

Friday                          Virtual Lifebelts

5pm – 6pm

You might use a lifebelt to keep yourself afloat/alive in turbulent waters. Our virtual lifebelts will give you buoyancy and the understanding to keep yourself afloat during trying times for mental health.

You can also throw a mental health lifebelt to someone who is struggling and help keep them afloat until further help can be summoned. In this way you might be able to reach out and understand why someone you encounter might be struggling with their wellbeing.

We will give you access to a suite of 5 short (no more than 25 minutes) films, each film will build and develop your knowledge and understanding of wellbeing and mental health. You will also be invited to attend 5 live webinars to discuss the issues that have arisen from each film; you will be encouraged to interact with other participants in a safe and supported environment, short (anonymised) summaries will be available on our private Facebook page soon after each session.


From 17 Aug to 11 Sept

For full detail and to book, visit

Sessions Schedule

Alice Motta: Political Imagination- from the body into the space                17 Aug | 5pm-6.15pm

Julia Couto: Applied Theatre and Wellbeing                                            18 Aug | 7pm – 8.15pm

Manuela Benini: Facing Mass Extinction                                     20 Aug | 7pm – 8.15pm

Gabriela Flarys: Movement & Spoken Words: poetics of contradiction      25 Aug | 7pm-8.15pm

Gabriela Flarys: Movement & Spoken Words: poetics of contradiction      27 Aug | 7pm-8.15pm

Almiro Andrade: Collaborative Approaches for Staging Voices                 27 Aug | 5pm – 6.15pm

Alice Motta: Political Imagination- from the body into the space                1 Sept | 7pm-8.15pm

Almiro Andrade: Collaborative Approaches for Staging Voices                 3 Sept | 5pm – 6.15pm

Franko Figueiredo: Audience Call to Action                                             8 Sept | 7pm – 8.15pm

Manuela Benini: Facing Mass Extinction                                                 10 Sept | 5pm-6.15pm

Julia Couto: Applied Theatre and Wellbeing                                            11 Sept | 5.30pm – 6.45pm

Franko Figueiredo: Audience Call to Action                                             11 Sept | 7.30pm – 8.45pm

Details of Constellations II and III: Art and City and Art and Health tbc

For full detail and to book, visit