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
Older adults are often stereotyped in our society as being frail and unwilling to try new things. The participants that I have met in this class have been the exact opposite. Many of the seniors in our class have been the most enthusiastic participants, and they have demonstrated leadership in the small groups. Because the movement arts class is such a new experience for all of us, the seniors and students seem to have similar feelings of apprehension, curiosity, and eagerness. When my PAL commented that she didn’t feel very graceful, I responded that I felt the same way. Even though my PAL and I have vastly different backgrounds, we were able to bond over our shared experience of trying something new and different. We were both willing to give it our best effort, and we ended up having a lot of fun. In the past, I have sometimes assumed that older adults have a completely different perspective than I do. However, the process of participating in a movement arts class allowed me to see that my PAL and I have more in common than I expected.
Emily Glasson, graduate student in Physical Therapy
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
I am not going to lie, I was an ageist before this class. Even walking into the first class, I was skeptical about how it was going to go. I was pleasantly surprised. Working with the senior volunteers these past few weeks has definitely opened up my eyes to a lot of things. It has been so interesting to see the differences between the student and the senior volunteers. During the first class, it was apparent that the professional students were extremely self conscious but most of the senior volunteers were not shy or afraid to experiment with the different dance motions. It has been so fun watching everyone grow more and more comfortable week by week. Sharon, my PAL, has so much spunk. Most of the senior volunteers have so much more movement in them than I thought possible. A lot of people underestimate the abilities of seniors, especially when they see a walker. But, this past weekend, a PAL with a walker performed a beautiful duet with one of the pharmacy students. It was amazing to see how someone who I thought was going to have so little movement create something so beautiful.
Attending this class has definitely eliminated any fear that I may have had about aging. The fact that all of the older PALs have made it clear that you can age beautifully and you learn so much along the way is inspiring. I never saw myself being friends with any of the PALs really but I have a dinner date planned with Alice and Sharon this Friday. Overall, I am so grateful that I was given and took this opportunity to work with all the PALs in the PALETTE program.
Shivangi Bhatt, graduate student in Pharmacy
Day two of class was much more comfortable than the first class. I honestly had no idea what to expect when signing up for this dance class, but the movements required of us during the first class were nothing that I had ever tried before, and by the end, I was still feeling a bit uncomfortable. While we repeated many of the same motion activities today, I was much more comfortable and was able to find a lot more enjoyment in the movement. During the choreography section I even really began to feel like we were expressing something through our movement, and we were creating art. I think the class generally was more comfortable with each other, and more comfortable moving together, which may have helped the creative juices flow.
I signed up for the class because I was excited about the intergenerational component. Today I was able to speak a little more in depth with some of the senior volunteers and enjoyed learning more about their interesting lives, but also to learn that they too were motivated to sign up for the class because of the intergenerational component. With both sides wanting to engage with, develop relationships with and learn from the other, makes for a really beautiful dynamic in the class.
Cara Whiting, graduate student in Physical Therapy