The power of connection through performing arts
Dancing in elderly homes
One of the most rewarding experiences in my career as a contemporary dancer was to dance in elderly homes. Fresh out of dance academy, somewhere in Amsterdam, a group of 5 dancers came together to start a dance company specialised in dancing for older people, in care homes.
I love bringing the power of theatre and dance to people, anywhere in the world, that normally do not have access to it. To do so I already traveled to rural areas in Mexico and El Salvador, but this was the first time I would bring dance to an audience that normally would not have access to it in my own country.
What struck me most is how open the people were. It was easy to connect to our audience. Other than being on a stage far away, dancing for an invisible crowd, we would go in to the home of these people, that are used to have days that repeat themselves. People that are used to see mainly people of their own age, and who spend a significant amount of time alone, in front of the television.
And there we came, with our costumes and music, with our dynamic dance moves, with our hearts and minds wide open ready to share our passion and to bring energy, life and movement to people that might welcome all of it.
It was wonderful to see how their hearts opened, how their bodies started to move in their chairs when they saw us dancing, and how eager they were to tell us their stories.
I remember we worried a lot if the seniors would understand the more abstract dance pieces. In stead I never forget a man who told me with teary eyes that he ‘saw his complete life passing by’ in one of the more abstract pieces. It was about love and about loosing each other.
The piece I have choreographed (we created this as a collective and every dancer choreographed a piece), was more theatrical. It had music from the 30’s. It showed young women who found out they all had a date with the same man. And that man lost his heart to a spontaneously chosen woman in the audience. It had slap stick elements. It made people laugh. And it made people dance, the dancers would step out in the end to dance with everybody.
What more can you give to someone who reached their last phase in life, who lost the ability to be independent, who is often lonely and knows what it is to loose friends and loved ones, than a day in which they are seen, where their hearts are touched and where they got to laugh and dance.
I believe in the power of the arts, and performing arts in particular for anyone. And since I had this experience, especially for our older and fragile, wise yet forgotten, members of society.
by Relinde Moors