Today was yet another special day spent with special people sharing the freedom and spirit felt from dancing. Nothing feels better than to release all worries and give oneself to the music, letting your body move through space without a care. We all truly feel that the studio is a safe space with no judgment, for we support and encourage each other when we perform and have fun being silly with one another. When it comes to dancing, age has no boundaries. Bodies were meant to move and be used as long as life allows, and it is inspiring to see how just how much energy 90 year olds still have! It is because of this that I cannot tell how old someone is! Maybe I am ignorant, but I always imagined that after the age of 80 people would be frail and dependent. My beliefs have totally reversed. I was blown away after talking with Bertha today to learn that she is 90 years old. She is so light on her feet and dainty when she dances! I hope to be just as full of life as her, at the age of 24.
I realized today how much this program means to the older adults, especially my PAL, Alice. She admires us students for enduring professional school, and is so appreciative of us taking time out of our busy schedules to dance and spend time with her. It is not just another time commitment on a Sunday for me, it is a joy I look forward to each week. I actually appreciate her spending time with me! Alice has taught me to live in the moment and enjoy the company you are with, not to hold back any feelings but express them, let each person know how much you care about them, and be yourself. She is easily overcome by emotions because she lets herself feel them fully and is so thankful for the life that she is living and the people she is spending it with. She is a wonderful human being and a friend I will have for life. I have learned that aging is nothing to fear, life may actually get sweeter because you can appreciate all of the little moments. I am thankful for Alice for teaching me this.
Carlin Tettelbach, graduate student in Physical Therapy
The PALETTE in Motion experience has been amazing every week. This week in particular I noticed everyone’s heart rate was increased from all the full bodied movement we were doing. I thought it was really nice to see how everyone was able to connect with the music we were using in some personal way; it didn’t matter that we all come from different backgrounds and we’re at different moments in our lives, we all moved together. Moving down the soul train line with my PAL I felt so connected to her, partially I think because of how the music was making us feel, and also just because we were sharing a space together. Movement is present in our everyday lives but during the PALETTE in Motion classes we get to explore new ways of moving that we don’t typically get to explore (including the dance majors). You get to know everyone just by observing how they present themselves in the space. It also doesn’t matter what age you are, the movement still looks beautiful and there are always some sweet moments between smaller groups where you can visually see the trust and respect between the dancers. When creating movement, everyone is able to work together to create material as a unit regardless of your major or your age. I just love being able to dance with so many different personalities and see how differently people move.
Nicole Anderson, student in Dance
In the Motion IV class, our focus was on rhythm and spatial orientation, using the influences of African tribal music as our avenue. We were given a handful of dancing exercises (highs and lows, mirroring, moving during different counts of a beat) to weave into our dance exercise for the day. My group consisted of 2 healthcare professional students, 1 senior and 1 dance student. With much guidance from our dance student, we were able to figure out a piece that we all liked and felt represented us. At first, everyone (but the dance student) was confused about where to start or how it would all play out. Once we worked together and communicated what moves we needed to work on, everything started feeling like it fit in place and everyone understood their role in the piece.
I liked hearing all the ideas the group had to contribute to the dance. One thing I noticed that I liked about our senior was she was very outspoken when she was unclear of what we were doing, because I would be unclear too and was a great reinforcement and encouragement for myself to ask for help when I needed it as well. During the rest of the group exercise, I was able to feel more comfortable and I could feel everyone did as well and it was a great moment to be able to be free and dance without judgement. At the end of the class, our senior shared with everyone how the class reminded her when she was in the Peace Corps in Africa (can’t remember the country) and how she was invited to the village’s traditional dance and was encouraged to participate in it. While I feel like the media likes to focus on aging with negative stereotypes, hearing her story combated that. Throughout her life she was able to have unique experiences that helped shape her views on the world, ability to interact with people who are different than her and provide care to the community. I think that is an admirable and important quality to have, especially within healthcare that I feel younger generations, including myself, has yet to go through, but can learn from by hearing these stories being passed on.
Kalyann Kauv, graduate student in Pharmacy
Today we explored the concepts of expansion and compression in the body and in space. We also investigated quick and slow movement to begin choreographing small studies of how bodies can amplify time and space. As always, the movement explorations served as an entryway for all of us (older adults, students, dancers and people discovering dance) to unite in laughter, silliness, and creativity. Some Sundays I come to PALETTE tired, groggy, or stressed out. However, once we begin moving together it all immediately melts away. I am constantly amazed at all the beauty and openness in the room, and seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces lights me up inside. I inevitably leave invigorated and inspired.
Before this program, I dreaded the thought of aging. Now, each week PALETTE puts my life into perspective: whatever stress or worries I have shrink when I realize how much of my life I have to look forward to, because I am dancing and laughing and sharing joy with people who have lived through it already. I am so thankful for the opportunity to move alongside people who might not otherwise experience dance in a space where we all move as unique equals.
Aria Roach, student in Dance
Today was the second session of PALETTE in Motion. I couldn’t wait to enter the same judge-free-zone I had left two weeks earlier. The friendly and supportive atmosphere achieved during the first session had relieved all of my initial hesitations about dancing in front of strangers; I had quickly learned that no matter if you were a student or senior volunteer, we were all entering unknown territory and accepting the challenge at hand. I spent all morning anxiously awaiting the mid-afternoon movement arts class that I knew would make me feel joyous both mentally and physically. As I entered the dance studio today, I was excited to see new and returning faces.
Our task today was to move beyond spontaneous movements in order to try our hand at choreographed movements. The eye contact and coordinated actions required during the various exercises allowed me to connect with my groupmates on a deeper level than if we had simply talked amongst ourselves. My three person team composed of one senior volunteer, another student volunteer, and myself worked together to create a brief movement sequence – complete with a beginning, middle, and end. Our final product was achieved by giving equal consideration to each other’s ideas and communicating effectively. I noticed that the senior member of our group exuded confidence as all three of us engaged in this unknown world of choreography; not to mention, she had a huge smile on her face the entire time. After we completed our routine, we watched the performance of two student volunteers grouped with a senior volunteer of limited mobility. It was beautiful to watch as the two student volunteers structured their movements such that they framed the senior member dancing in the middle of the trio. I left today’s class feeling rejuvenated for the second time in a row. I only hope that I am as brave and confident as the current senior members when I’m old enough to be a senior member. Despite having only been with these wonderful senior ladies for such a short amount of time, they have taught me to never stop challenging myself, never underestimate myself, and most importantly, never stop having fun!
Kayla Miller, graduate student in Pharmacy