Imagine everyone dancing



Everyone Needs to Dance

Thank you to The Age4Action Network!

Our Director, Maria Genné, is being featured in their  newsletter this month in a profile piece entitled, Maria Genné: Everyone Needs to Dance.

Click on the picture below to read more…

Awards for Kairos Collaborators

This week  in downtown Minneapolis 3,500 members of Aging Services of Minnesota are having their annual conference.

Two Kairos Dance Theatre collaborators, Ebenezer and Wilder,  won awards for excellence in program innovation  in connection  with  Kairos’ The Dancing Heart Program™  at their facilities.

While receiving the award on behalf of Ebenezer,  Maria said,

“This pattern -breaking project is the result of a shared vision of a whole group of people, many who are at this moment working in five different long term care facilities, or at administrative offices, or on the way to visit loved ones, and some who are here in this room.

. . . I want to say a Great Big ‘thank you’ to an amazing group of people, our collaborators at each site, who have been willing to step into the creative process, to help begin to change the culture of each community that serves older adults so that it continues to be more imaginative, more welcoming of each individual’s gifts, and more aware of the assets of older people rather than their deficits.

. . . Minnesota, and Kairos are leading the way for our colleagues all over the US to begin to re-imagine the value that older frail adults can bring to their communities, showing how these older adults in return can benefit from their renewed engagement in their own lives through dance,  music,and story, based in the context of their lives.”

Two Thousand Plus Years of Movement Experience Expressed In the Here and Now

At Deer Crest Assisted Living in Red Wing we were amazed and thrilled to realize that we were doing Waltz, Polka, Schottische, and Improvisatory Movement with a lively group that embodied in one room more than two thousand years of combined movement experience.
No wonder the spirits were so high~~~!

We’re looking forward to many beautiful Thursdays in the hill and valley eagle country of Red Wing.


Grief and Joy

We are heading into next week to say “good-bye” to our “Dancing Heart” friends at five nursing homes. We have been dancing together for two years through a Minnesota Department of Human Services grant given to five nursing homes that Ebenezer either owns or manages.

The grant has run out. There is a hiring freeze imposed on the nursing homes – so there is no artist on staff to support the five weekly programs that 3-4 Kairos teaching artists and 1-2 volunteers have facilitated for the last two years. The staff at each site will try to continue weekly dance and storytelling activities but “The Dancing Heart” itself will be gone. We know from experience that the success of the “Dancing Heart” program depends on on-going collaboration from professional performing artists that are the core of the Kairos teaching artists’ team.

I feel joy when I think of all the stories, all the dances, all the laughter, and surprises from the last two years – like when one elder stood and danced with his visiting wife for the first time in many years. Another told a story that had us laughing and crying at the same time. I feel joy when I think of the people we have collaborated with: the ones we saw each week and the ones who have passed on. We still remember dancing with them and we remember their stories of joy and grief. I feel joy when I think of many of the staff we have had the opportunity to work with. I remember the ones who have gone out of their way to create a very special prop or went looking for the song or a story from a family member, and the ones who have learned to sing a hello and dance a memory.

I feel grief having to say good-bye – wishing I still could show up every week and find another way to invite an elder back into the dancing circle- invite a gift to be shared- support them as they experience mastery- finding joy in the moment of rising from the wheelchair to dance an Irish jig while holding on tightly to my hands for support and delight.

I feel grief that there is not enough money to bring artists to work with elders and to support their dedicated staff in nursing homes each week. I feel grief when I think of my own Mom feeling so frustrated in a nursing home. Her mind was bright and vital, but she felt isolated in an institution that was designed to give her basic comforts – but with little support to help her share her legacy, her gifts, through the arts of storytelling, theater and dance.

I feel grief that there are so many elders in nursing homes or isolated in their homes who die without passing on their stories of what they most loved in the world; who can’t share that favorite dance they did with their husband-to-be, or tell you what had the most impact in their lives like what it was like to be crawling on their belly in the middle of a World War II battle.

We need to invite our elders back into to the circle of our communities before it is too late- and we have missed that laugh, that song, that dance, that story that we will never hear or see quite the same way again.


Dance to the Music

When we were rehearsing for our show “Take Me Back to Hip Harlem” (this Saturday, 12/4 at 7 PM and Sunday, 12/5 at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis) this morning I had several moments of ecstasy that many performers hope for while dancing. As we began “Wade in the Water” with vocalist Fred Steele, Peter Schimke on keyboards, Kevin Washington on drums and Douglas White on bass, giving us this amazing music, I felt a joy that sometimes shows up when it all comes together.

We had a group of excellent dancers, with honed choreography, added lots of rehearsals and hard work and we were fortunate to bring in this group of outstanding musicians AND YOU’VE GOT THE MAGIC OF ARTISTRY all woven into one moment.

It’s all about “kairos” once again.


Life Time Skills

I have been part of the National Guild for Community Arts Education Conference in San Francisco this past week.

On Wednesday I helped present a National Center for Creative Aging Institute with colleagues Susan Perlstein, Stu Kandell, Jeff Champline and Michael Patterson. Exciting group of attendees – very diverse with lots of great questions.
At lunch we went out and enjoyed the remnants of the Giants parade that had just passed by- ticker-tape and all. Lots of happy people in the streets!

At the rest of the Guild conference – I was inspired to hear other arts educators and creative thinkers, like Randy Nelson of DreamWorks Animation SKG, talk about how engagement in the arts teaches life time skills:
-critical thinking
-problem solving

I believe we are all life long learners- and we can continue to deepen and grow our experiences with these valuable skills through ongoing and vital engagement in dance, music, theater, poetry, storytelling and visual arts.

(dancing is my favorite)