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
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
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
Walking into the dance studio today, there was a feeling of excitement and maybe a little apprehension as no one really knew what to expect from this experience. This is the first time movement art classes are being offered through the PALETTE program and I am excited to be a part of this inaugural class. As I conversed with fellow participants before the start of class, I realized that regardless of our different backgrounds and experiences, we were all starting on the same page today. We were all a little nervous about what was to come, but also excited to be experiencing something new. The older adult sitting next to me commented about never being too old to try something new. I think this is true on many levels. For all of us today, trying something new was participating in a movement class without really knowing what that meant. As a child, it was learning to walk instead of crawl. As an older adult, it may be picking up a new hobby after retirement.
Today, it was exciting to see both younger and older adults trying something new together. We started by introducing ourselves and then had a chance to be creative right away with moving and making shapes with our bodies, and connecting with and moving with others. We later worked in small groups and took turns leading others with our own creative dance moves. Everyone had a chance to lead and follow through this exercise. My favorite activity from today was moving our bodies through space to spell our name. I am well-practiced at using my arms to spell out VCU during basketball games, but found it a challenge to think about how to represent my own name and having more freedom to move about than when packed into the student section at a game. We had a chance to share our name dance with the entire group and it was absolutely beautiful to watch everyone share something they had created and that was unique to them. By the end of class today, I think everyone seemed a little more relaxed and much more connected than we had at the beginning. I am looking forward to making deeper connections as the movement classes continue.
Kelly Hainline, graduate student in Physical Therapy
Today was the last day of the PALETTE program. Bob and I actually had more conversation than we’ve had since day one. This is probably because we realized that we hadn’t gotten to know each other as well as we would have liked to. We started the day with print making, and in the middle of that we got to do the mirror painting! Printmaking was nice, but I absolutely loved the miror painting. I used a small brush and Bob used a large one, so on my side of the board it looked really cool because my lines had a back drop pretty much. He and I both laughed a lot at this because the board was filled with paint already so we were trying to fill in the blank areas as well as keep track of where we were! He told me I was good at keeping up with him! I appreciated that he said that because a lot of people would assume an older adult would need to keep up with the younger adult, but he did not cut himself short and I was proud of that.
I had a wonderful experience making art with my PAL Bob, he was definitely an interesting person and he and I both share some of the same qaulities so I am glad we got matched up. He has a young attitude and I feel like he had the exact same personality when he was in high school or college. I will miss sharing moments like this with him because I do not get to spend time with my grandparents so he was sort of filling that void in my life.