It's a thrill to perform. It is more of a thrill when you create a team out of people from totally different backgrounds, with different training, musical preferences and ages. Thanks to the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts Project Stream and the Leeway Foundation for making this happen!
Why should we silo creative activities for seniors and those who are less functional apart from young people who love dance and movement and do it fluently? Many of my respected teachers (including Liz Lerman of DanceExchange and Maria Genné of KairosAlive!) have broken barriers in this area, and I’m following their example.
When you work with older or restricted dancers it’s collaborative—they need to feel good when they are learning a sequence of movements (in a chair and out of it), they need music that will motivate them, and they approach venue, rehearsal, costumes, and lighting--as well as performance presence in their own way and at their own pace.
There’s a different set of criteria for young dancers who want a challenge and want choreography that shows them to best advantage—and for which they will rehearse hours on end.
I want elders to function as mentors and the youth to function as inspiration. I want to expand the world of young people and include them in a community not just of their peers but also those who have experienced bodies, minds and emotions.
These relationships will offer better perspective on what movement can mean as we age. By combining these two groups and allowing them to participate in professional-caliber performances, I believe we can add energy and dynamic to the dance world and to the human experience of those involved.
I was privileged to teach a master class at Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles in June 2015, and the results of mixing and matching Miss Allen's children and teens with 12 dancers from a local senior center were very successful--aside from being creative, the group was full of fun!