History - Life Force Arts Ensemble


“Time” by Susan Mullen

The work of Life Force Arts Ensemble can be thought of as four basic time periods:

1988 – 1998

Joan Forest Mage founds the company (originally called Sentience) and the nonprofit tax exempt 501 (c) 3 organization. The company produces 14 evening length dance concerts, as well as teaching many classes in improvisational dance and vocals. She identifies four ways people relate to each other when improvising, which she calls Streaming (Sentience) Osmosis, Dialogue and Crystallizing. These become the basis of everything the company does from that time forward. From the reaction of audiences and students, Joan realizes the cathartic power of the method she is using and that it is spiritual in nature. She begins to study many types of spiritual healing practice, finally being identified by members of her community as a shaman. She realizes that the basic principles that were revealed to her through improvisation are actually a modern medicine wheel, which she eventually calls the Life Force Arts Method.

1999 – 2008

Joan begins to teach shamanic work and creates the Shamanic Training program, as well as continuing to teach improvisational dance and vocals. The name of the company is changed to Life Force Ensemble. Joan, along with Ensemble members Barry Bennett and James Cornolo create the Dance Celebration program. Joan, Barry and James create the album “Journeys in the Dreamtime.” Joan receives a masters degree from School for New Learning, DePaul University with the focus area “Creating Healing Ritual Through The Arts.”

2008 – 2016

The company opens its own venue, Life Force Arts Center (LFAC) near Lincoln, Ashland and Belmont in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. the Center becomes a home for many spiritual and artistic presenters and produces 1000 events. Life Force begins producing visual art exhibits . Joan continues teaching the Shamanic Training Program.

2016 – present

Joan returns to the original concept of the company as producing performance work based in the Life Force Arts Method, this time with the art exhibits as an integral part of the performances, in our own venue. The company begins to produce regular performances, and also the Healing Arts Intensives.