Let’s Dance


by Gary Oftedahl

For almost 40 years, I’ve labored in the health care industry, working as a physician committed to improving the health of the patients I cared for.  My efforts were directed to addressing the health needs of those I saw……but with a focus on a medical  model. Several years ago, I became associated with the Kairos Alive group, and began to  realize that I had a narrow, limited focus on what would improve the health and well being of those around me.  Recently “retired” from my formal role in the health care industry, I was persuaded to take on the role of Board Chair for Kairos Alive. Initially I planned on limiting my support to helping them connect with those I knew from my past health care experiences, but primarily serving as a catalyst for supporting their work in using dance, music, stories, and movement to improve the well being of the citizens they cared for.  While initially primarily involved with elderly residents of various long term care facilities, they persisted in their efforts to convince me their work applied to all. Oh, and they continued to encourage me to participate in one of their Dance  Hall experiences,  sharing in the joy and excitement they told me they brought to those attending such events.  After much prodding, I agreed to travel to the VA Center in south Minneapolis, and participate with them in bringing their energy, passion, joy, and engagement to residents and patients across the VA Center. As I walked into the room, I saw (at least from my initial reaction) a quiet, reserved group of people, some slumped over in their chairs, with often glum, sad looks dominating the room.   “Oh, boy, do we have a challenge tonight!” crossed through my mind. Ninety minutes later, everything had changed.   To the accompaniment of a small instrumental group, and the energy of the Kairos Alive staff, I was dancing, singing, perspiring, and watching a room come alive, with smiles, upraised voices, dancing (both while seated, while dancing, and in some cases through mobile wheelchairs), and smiles of joy and memories permeating the room, both from the residents, but also from those of us lucky enough to be a part of this experience. It left me with a feeling I’ve rarely experienced, a fulfillment, a sense of really making a difference, in ways I’d not expected.  I’m more committed than ever to supporting the Kairos Alive approach in bringing joy and wellbeing to those in our community, but not just through my role as Board chair.  Come on, let’s dance, it’s an amazing opportunity to give back to the community in which we live.  See you at the next Dance Hall, I hope. GaryO_normal

Sky Above Clouds


Beautiful seeing Maria with Wendy Miller at the #2015CreativeAge Conference in Washington D.C.

Wendy is the Artist/Writer/Teacher/Expressive Arts Therapist longtime colleague & marriage partner of our beloved mentor, Dr. Gene Cohen.

Wendy’s new book, “Sky Above Clouds”, which she began with Dr. Cohen before he passed, will come out in late 2015 from Oxford University Press.

We eagerly await “Sky Above Clouds” The title alludes to a Georgia O”Keeffe painting which shares the feeling the mature mind can develop with the neurological tendancy to see the sunny side of the street.

We’re delighted to learn that Wendy is including Minnesota in her upcoming book tour.

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Happy Spring! We’re Back!

Today on this first day of Spring I hope that you find a moment to take a deep breath, exhale and imagine something that you love. We at Kairos Alive! love to dance! Research tells us that moving is good for you and dancing is even better.

Try a a spring jig!

take care,


Summer Performance Series

Summer Performance Series

Minnehaha Park Bandshell, June 20, 2013

Kairos 157

Kairos 172

Kairos 218

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There’s Nothing Like People Coming Together – Art Makes People

We’ve been working on gathering fantastic art for the very first KAIROS ALIVE! Art Sale and Silent Auction. Please join us, Thursday June 13, 5-7 pm at the Loring Park Community Arts Center.

St. Mark’s Cathedral is graciously allowing us to use their parking lot. We’re in conversation with Twin Town Pedicabs to help shuttle people to Loring Park.

Here is a partial list of artists’ work you will find:

Susan Armington, Heidi Arneson, Lisa Arnold, Darin Back, Linda Bergh, Karl Bethke, Savita Bettaglio, Judith Brin Ingber, Sandy Brown Wyeth, Laura Crosby, Barbara DaCosta, Sally Dixon, Laura Drabant, Louise Erdrich, John Falls, David Goldes, Nancy Goldstein, Walter Griffin, Cynthia Harms – Marcel Mouly signed lithograph, Kate Heegaard Hartfiel, Hopi Foundation Artists, Jack Jaglo, Catherine L. Johnson, Madeleine Lowry, Sandra Menefee Taylor, Faith Oremland, Tammy Ortegon, Doug Padilla, Traudi Pawlowski, Lindalee Soderstrom, Steven Guy Solberg, Richard Stryker, Sarah Thorton, Sara Tucker, Patrice Tullai, Eva Two Crow, Diane Wilson, Rochelle Woldorsky

RSVP at info@kairosalive.org

We’re looking forward to seeing you there.

Mask by Eva Two Crow

Mosaic by Lisa Arnold

Depending on Each Other, Remembering Those Who Helped Us Get Here


This week the Dancing Heart sessions at the V.A. Day Program sites focused on our interdependance and those we depended on to get where we are today. We worked with the imagery of trees and how they shelter us and gift us in so many ways. Their fruit, their sap, their branches, and even eventually a stump to sit on. How they give us oxygen which is like the gift of freedom some people gave us. We stood together as a forest, keeping in mind the great gifting trees that fell before us. We said some of their names aloud. We thank each veteran.

The Rain Falls On Everybody’s Shoulders

When I walked through the door and got a hug-at-first-glance I knew this could be an especially open-hearted dancing heart™ session. I took a quick glance at site staff to make sure it was ok boundary-wise. Some people are so immediate in their feelings that a hug-at-first-sight is not complex. She had probably heard that we were coming to share dance & music & story and was simply happy about it!

We started the session with a high-kinetic dance song, ‘Shake, Rattle, & Roll’. The group of 20 or so was all in. Not much coaxing needed for this unique and emotionally responsive group. Sensing that the energy high was almost too much, we simmered down with an A Capella lullaby-like song which took its time and included the name of each person in the circle.

Now a sense of group unity had been achieved. We moved on to a story about a tree, a 500-year old tree. Our kinesthetic genius, Jesse, danced the tree’s branches, roots and quivering leaves. Everybody in the circle joined the movements in a wonderful chorus of gestural support. The people loved the tree. The tree loved the people.

The narrative took its course along the circle of life, bringing us back to where we were here and now. The session wound up with a real live ‘Soul Train’. The near-chaotic enthusiasm of the beginning had transformed to a harmonized whole. A sweet bald-headed woman said she had something to say. We handed her the mike and quieted the room.

“The rain falls on everybody’s shoulders. Sometimes they will help you.”

& is that not exactly how things are?

– Peter


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