In today’s class, we worked on sewing the printed fabrics we had made last time into asunglasses case. In the fiber workshop, our classes are always in a relaxed and quiet atmosphere,and it’s been a good opportunity to enjoy each other’s presence. Sewing was not my forte so it took me a long time to begin to get the hang of it, but it was great seeing how comfortable my PAL Tanya was with sewing, and the different tidbits of more advanced sewing information that she had to share with us. It was also great hearing stories from Tanya about her week, such as how much fun she had when 4th graders came to visit the JCC and eat lunch with them. She is incredibly active and has so many stories of her experiences and travels to share with us. In addition, being able to sit around and chat with the other PALS has been a fantastic experience. It’s been amazing to hear about the new things they’re all trying, and one of the PALS at my table mentioned her interest in learning a new language. Hearing these stories has also given me a lot of thought in considering my future experience with aging. It’s something we will all go through, and I hope to be able to keep these stories and experiences in mind to remind me there are always ways to remain engaged and active with the outside world. With my own aging experience then, I am looking forward to the new experiences and opportunities awaiting me.
Tiffany Lee, graduate student in Pharmacy
Today during PALETTE in Motion we explored expansion and compression. We moved individually to discover how expansion and compression can articulate the body, and moved in groups to discover how these concepts can be applied spatially. As always, dancing served as a unifying component of PALETTE in Motion, allowing us to laugh and step out of our comfort zones in a room full of smiles. I feel that the intergenerational nature of this program has shown me how beautifully unique people are at every age. Each person brings to the room their own experiences, fears, and self-consciousness; but also their own openness, energy, and encouragement, which allow the space to fill with positivity.
I had an interesting discussion with my PAL after class about the role of gender in dancing. This PAL had always viewed dancing and intuition as “feminine,” and saw masculinity as being defined by logic and order. My PAL said that the class is revealing to them how dancing from intuition can be genderless (just as I am discovering it is ageless), and that if we ask our minds to let go of preconceived notions, we can all move together as human beings. I find this reflection to be a valuable representation of my experience here as well. PALETTE in Motion breaks down many barriers: personal, generational, and physical.
Aria Roach, student in Dance
Today in the Visual Arts Center, my PAL Alice and I worked on linocut printing, a process that involves carving a relief into linoleum and using ink to transfer the design to paper. Observing each others’ designs afforded me the opportunity to learn more about Alice and what inspires her, and the activity created a relaxed environment where we were able to talk amongst ourselves as we etched. Although it is early in the program, I already feel quite comfortable with Alice. She makes it easy – as she is forthcoming about her hobbies and demonstrates an interest in mine as well. My past experiences with the senior population include caring for my late grandfather and caring for patients at VCU Health. Working with Alice, it’s refreshing and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced (or expected) to relate to Alice not as a granddaughter or caretaker, but as a friend.
My grandfather was always introverted, but his aging experience caused him to withdraw even further from the external world. Alice has shown me that aging does not necessarily equate to “loss.” She is an active member of the JCC gym, attends hip hop classes regularly, and (I was so excited to find out) has tried yoga! Not only that, but she finds intellectual stimulation through trivia and connects with her community at church and the JCC. Undoubtedly, everyone has their own unique experience of aging. What I am learning through PALETTE and my PAL is that my own experience can be one of continued growth and optimism.
Rachel Erickson, graduate student in Physical Therapy
Today was the first PALETTE in Motion class and it was an experience that was completely different from what I expected. Because I am a pharmacy student, I do not participate in classes like this at all so it was a great change from the normal class setting. But beyond learning in a different style than lecturing, the PALETTE in Motion class showed me how I can learn about the older population through movement. All of the PALs that attended the class came in with a positive attitude and an openness to learn. My PAL, Alice, was vibrant and talkative from the moment we all sat down next to each other. All of the other seniors were also very excited to do different warm up exercises and flex their creative muscles. More than anything, they seemed to enjoy doing something that most of them were not used to. They were able to step outside their comfort zone.
The different exercises showed me how age stereotypes are completely wrong and how ageism does not truly reflect the aging population. All of the older women that attended the class were all willing to learn new dance exercises and have fun and none of them perpetuated the stereotype of a stubborn old person. Everyone was enjoying him or herself and laughing. Although this isn’t a class where we purposefully teach each other, I could see the intergenerational learning occurring. While we learn to breakdown any stereotypes that we may have lingering in our minds about older adults, the older adults learn that the younger generation still enjoys their free spirits and they do not have to conform to negative connotations and jokes existing in the media. This also can relate back to Pharmacy because I have now witnessed how aging occurs differently with everyone. It’s important to tailor care according to a person’s needs and we cannot just group all older adults into one category with general stereotypes. It is important to stay focused on the needs of that patient alone. As evidenced by the group of PALs in attendance today, everyone has their own feelings about their age and this group definitely felt young and enthusiastic. I look forward to learning and experiencing more through the program and bettering my ability to care for patients in the future.
Archana Raghavan, graduate student in Pharmacy
Today was an extremely successful first movement based session of PALETTE in Motion. The class began with a brief introduction in which all participants sat in a circle. Sitting in a circle was a great way to ease everyone into the program because it automatically developed a sense of equality and community between senior, participant, dancer, and coordinator. From there, Melanie led us through a warm up that explored all parts of the body from the muscles in the face to grounding down through our legs. It was interesting to see the progression of the class; how everyone started out reserved and as time went on, personalities shined through. Sharing movement with a group of people who do not “study” dance was extremely humbling.
As our creative hats turned on, we began some small gestural improvisation. This is something that I, as a dancer, don’t have to think about but impulse brings me there. However, as I examined the people around me, I realized that mostly everyone else was hesitant or embarrassed to create a movement gesture. The classed progressed through a series of movement exploration activities such as mirroring and sharing eye contact while spelling your name through your body. I realized that by creating movement in a group atmosphere, we were all embarking on a journey of discovery together. We were all people given the permission to put aside judgment, and move freely based on impulse. We were all dancers.
Rachel Stanislawczyk, student in Dance