Last week, each group was assigned at least one student in the dance program. This is very helpful because inexperienced dancers (like me and I’m sure several others) were able to mimic motions if they were unsure about where their limbs needed to be
next. This week, all the dance students were part of a major performance, so they were absent and the physical therapy and pharmacy students were expected to take the reins. Don’t get me wrong, the dance students were definitely missed, but their absence allowed all of us to dive into our more creative sides.
The theme for today’s class was listening. By listening, I do not mean listening to words.
I’m talking about listening to actions, motions, body language…etc. Engaging in non-verbal communication made me recall the common phrase, “Actions speak louder than words”, which usually is used to label those who make promises or statements and do not follow through with them. Today’s class allowed to contemplate a different perspective of that phrase. At the start of class, there was an assigned leader that initiated motions, and then the rest of the responders reacted to the movement. It was amazing to watch how quickly we became comfortable with each other. We reached a point, within minutes, to where there really was no need for a leader because each group was so in-sync with each other. Watching people dance gave me a snippet of each of their personalities, which is something that may take hours, weeks or even months to discover in verbal conversation. Some were outgoing and goofy while others were more reserved and shy. It also reminded me that age really IS just a number and that we all, no matter how young or old, are just people trying to live life and have fun.
Aging is change and it happens to everyone. Most people do not like aging because of
all the negative-associated and uncontrollable changes that comes with it. I don’t know what’s in store for me when I get older, but I do know that there are several constants that I know I can control and keep: my goofy, outgoing personality and my positivity to enjoy life and have fun.
Teri Draper, graduate student in Physical Therapy
Some stand statuesque while partners walk around one another, observing how we move, how we hold ourselves. Coming together into webs, where there were physical connections between everyone in the group. Breaking away, where every person drew away from each other, but still feeling that connection between the group. Everyone involved in each simple connection and movement. Each of these moments stood out to me from today’s class as ways of breaking down the walls and pre-conceived notions that are often between the different generations that met together today. Each movement pulled away blinders of age and simply allowed me to see a partner with whom I am sharing movement and expressiveness.
I am not exactly sure what I was expecting out of the first day in PALETTE in Motion, but it was better than I could have imagined. I was extremely excited to meet my PAL for the first time and to see what we were going to be learning. I was also nervous about what was going to be asked of us. I was worried that there might be movements that not everyone could do. That was not the case. There was some timidity at first, but by the end of class today everyone was so open and willing to jump in and move freely. I was in awe at the connections I could see between everyone in the groups on the first day, I cannot wait to observe how each group will continue to grow together throughout the semester. I can honestly say that I never envisioned myself continuing to dance as I got older; however, after today, I want to embrace growing older and confidently know that I will still be dancing.
Colette McFaden, graduate student in Physical Therapy
Today is the last section of the movement class for PALETTE program and I was really happy to have an opportunity to be a part of this amazing program. Today’s learning objective was move with tempo and working forming shape around negative space of body. People were forming shape around each other, which makes me felt we are really close to each other, and making body contact. I really enjoyed this afternoon. I felt tired but also satisfy after the section. I am really glad to see all the seniors try their best to participate the movement class and felt warm from them for all the supports. I remembered the first section people still felt awkward dancing in front of people; some seniors did not really participate. But today, everybody moved and laughed during the entire section. The program brings people closer together.
Pei-Chun Chu, graduate student in Pharmacy
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
Getting to know Ann is something I will always be grateful for. She has taught me so much about what it means to live each moment and to really make the most of today. Her positive attitude and bright nature continually rub off on me, and I always leave each class with a huge smile on my face, ready to take on anything. Ann continues to inspire me every day, and I know now that it is very possible to live a fulfilling and independent life, no matter your age.
As today was our last time with one another, I decided to bring a gift for Ann. I brought her a candle as well as a scarf. She loved both and even asked me to put the scarf on her. I was assuming she meant that she wanted me to tie it around her neck, but she quickly told me, “No! I want it like how you have it!” I proceeded to wrap the scarf neatly around her head, similar to how I wear mine. The fact that Ann was so keen to try the headscarf spoke volumes to me. It is evident that we have formed a special friendship over the course of the program, one that transcends any potential religious or age barriers. This experience with the PALETTE program has been absolutely wonderful and I am really glad to have participated.
Mariam Abuagla, graduate student in Pharmacy