Generations Dance Together

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Kairos’ The Dancing Heart™ has been having some great intergenerational sessions involving Adam’s Elementary students and Sholom Home East adult day participants in St. Paul. Kairos Teaching Artist Parker Genné has been working with students who read the book “Trudy” about a middle school student whose father has Alzheimer’s and is considerably older than her fellow students’ fathers.

As with everything at Kairos, we begin with dance. Dance is  the gateway in working with both young and old so we thought the adults and students meeting would begin by dancing together. In order to do that, Parker began by leading the students in a Dancing Heart, warming up the body, grooving to music by Hank Balland and tackling swing dancing.

When we decided the students and elders would meet each other we had no idea how deeply they would connect nor how power the impact of this experience would have on all of our lives. Having grown up at a different time with different expectations for boys, I’m happy to report our culture seems to have grown stronger in the area of boys expressing themselves through dance!

In addition to dancing, the students asked a lot of questions about the elders’ life experiences.

  • Arnold shared how he entertained himself as a boy in Romania by playing “table top soccer” with buttons.
  • Harold explained the nuances of “mumblepeg”, a game played with a jack-knife.
  • Marie talked about cutting out paper dolls and their dresses with scissors. Lots of hands both young and old went up when we asked who in the room had done the same.

I’m also happy to report that the stories shared among the participants are impacting their lives. Relationships have formed. Parker is now passing notes between the young boys and Arnold.

After the session a young girl insisted on giving Marie her necklace. Marie’s glow showed that innocent joy of receiving a precious gift is available at any age.



The mission of Kairos Dance Theatre is to transform and revitalize individuals and communities. We work with older adults in intergenerational settings to liberate the healing power of interactive dance and story. We achieve our mission by engaging the skills of professional teaching artists.

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