August 24, 2012


With Lisa Kudrow

KAIROS dancing heartTM Featured in New PBS Documentary,
Arts & The Mind

Twin Cities Public Television KTCA/Channel 2
Part 1: Friday, September 14, 8pm Part 2: Friday, September 21, 8pm


KAIROS dancing heartTM, the pioneering, national award winning research-based performing arts program for elders by KAIROS ALIVE!, is featured in the new 2-part public television documentary, Arts and the Mind, airing on PBS stations across the U.S. and available streaming online after September 12th at (KTCA Twin Cities/Channel 2: Friday, September 14 and Friday, September 21 at 8PM. Other cities, check local listings.)

Hosted by Lisa Kudrow, the two-part Arts and the Mind special reveals the crucial impact of the arts on the human brain across our lifetimes and explores its particularly vital role in human development during youth and older age. The series shares stories of how music, dance, painting, poetry and theater markedly improve well-being at both ends of life, and reveals the cutting-edge science that explains the powerful, positive impact of the arts on our brains. Showcasing some of the nation’s most innovative and successful arts programs plus the work of leading American educators and scientists, Arts & The Mind illuminates: how the arts can improve children’s school performance, and keep our brains agile and sharp into old age; how teenagers find meaning and hope through poetry at a renowned Los Angeles program supported by actor Tim Robbins; how the arts help heal children in hospitals and older veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder; why one of America’s leading Alzheimer’s researchers advises that dance is the single most effective way to ward off dementia; and how the KAIROS dancing heartTM program, based in the Twin Cities, provides stimulation, inspiration and health benefits to those in nursing homes, adult day programs, community centers and other settings.

The KAIROS dancing heartTM, founded and developed by Maria Genné and KAIROS ALIVE!, is an immersive participatory performing arts and leadership development program that has significant health and quality-of-life benefits, and promotes cost-of-care savings, as well as positively changing the cultures of sponsoring organizations. It engages older adults in intergenerational settings as sources of wisdom and artistic excellence, and as positive social catalysts to create healthy, vital communities. The program is an intergenerational dance, story, theatre, music, poetry and song experience, based in the latest body/mind research that includes education in a unique form of community based artistic leadership. Specially trained professional artists lead all sessions.

Alzheimer’s disease researcher Dr. Peter Davies, from the Litwin-Zucker Research Center in Long Island, NY, is quoted in Arts and the Mind as saying, “Participating in an ongoing dance program reduces the rate of developing Alzheimer’s by 75%.” Genné and KAIROS dancing heartTM are pioneers in working with “memory care” patients and have come to similar conclusions about the importance of dance, story and theater participation to effect health benefits.

A 36-week research study conducted by Catherine Sullivan, PhD, OTR/L and others at Saint Catherine University, found that older adult participants in weekly KAIROS dancing heartTM workshops experienced a significant impact on their health; physical health, cognitive health and psychosocial health. Quantitative measurements indicated improvements in balance scores, and stability in memory and depression scores.

According to Maria Genné, “We hear from nursing home administrators that even small improvements in these scores mean that residents will need fewer doctor visits and less medications, plus life is just more fun when you dance.”

Qualitative results of the KAIROS dancing heartTM study include: • Increased physicality, socialization and ability to reminisce
• Enhanced sense of personhood
• Experiences of “flow”; sustained and timeless engagement

• Facilitation of new memories within and outside the program • Shared meaning promoting bonding among participants
• Fun and excitement
• Reported sense of healing and “sacredness”

• Inquisitiveness about arts-based programming
• And, improved communication and enhanced feeling of community among residents and staff.

Further research on the KAIROS dancing heartTM program, conducted by Saint Catherine University, will be presented at the upcoming American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in San Francisco in October.

Says Genné, “We feel honored to be included in Arts and the Mind. We’ve long believed in the power of performing arts participation – particularly dance – to create health benefits, to promote emotional healing and to build community. This is in addition to its intrinsic value. It’s an honor to make a contribution to the understanding of how arts participation can play such a crucial role in human development, education and healthcare throughout the lifespan.”

Also included in the documentary is a second story about KAIROS danceTM, including members of the intergenerational company, ages 1-93, and longtime collaborator and beloved Twin Cities jazz tenor saxophonist Irv Williams. The program incorporates performance vignettes with Williams and colleagues with modern dancers of Kairos Dance shot at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis. Williams, who settled in the Twin Cities in 1942, has worked in bands fronted by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Fletcher Henderson, Mary Lou Williams and Billy Eckstine. His warm, soulful tone and mastery of the jazz ballad earned him the moniker from former Pioneer Press music critic Bob Protzman of “Mr. Smooth.” His 2004 CD “That’s All?” was named one of the top 20 CDs of the year by the Star Tribune. At 93, he continues to play a weekly gig at the Dakota and to collaborate with KAIROS danceTM.

Genné and the KAIROS dancing heartTM program have won these distinctions:

• 2007 Award for Excellence by the Archstone Foundation and the Gerontological Health Section of the American Public Health Association
• 2008 Mind Alert Award by the American Society on Aging and MetLife Foundation,

• Minnesota Aging Services gave their 2011 Excellence and Innovation Award to the Ebenezer and Wilder Foundations for their work with the Dancing HeartTM
• Roselinde Gilbert Innovations in Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Legacy Award at the 2012 Aging in America Conference in Washington, D.C.

• Chapter on this work included in medical textbook, “Coming Alive: Kairos Dance Theatre’s Dancing HeartTM–Vital Elders Moving in Community,” Hartman- Stein and La Rue, Eds., Enhancing Cognitive Fitness in Adults (285-299). New York: Springer.
• Listed as a model program in Creativity Matters: The Arts and Aging Toolkit, published jointly by the National Center for Creative Aging, (NCCA) the National Guild of Community Schools for the Arts, and the New Jersey Arts Center.
• Genné serves on the board of the NCCA, is a national trainer for this organization, speaks publicly and has testified before congressional hearings on the subject of Creativity, Health and Aging, and has served as a consultant for the National Endowment for the Arts.

The vision of KAIROS ALIVE!, founded in 1999 as Kairos Dance Theatre, is to transform lives through dance and story. KAIROS ALIVE! is an arts and arts education organization that explores possibilities of enjoyment, healing, leadership development and community building through intergenerational interactive performing arts involvement. They do this through KAIROS danceTM, KAIROS dancing heartTM and the KAIROS labTM – their platform for developing new ideas, processes and programs that embrace our aging population and intergenerational community participation with a role in society for the professional performing artist as a healer and community catalyst.

Maria Genné, MSEd, Founder and Director of KAIROS ALIVE!, is a modern dancer/choreographer, arts consultant and dance educator. She has had a lifelong interest in enjoyment, transformation and meaning through performing arts involvement. She is the choreographer/performer of over 60 dance works performed throughout the U.S. She founded the Twin Cities young people’s modern dance company Young Dance, and has developed education programs for such diverse cultural organizations as the Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Children’s Museum, MacPhail Center for Music, The Playwright’s Center, Artstart and Walker Art Center. In addition, she has developed participatory arts programs for healthcare professionals, social service professionals, and elementary, secondary and early childhood teachers and students.

For more information, visit: – home

For more information on the research behind these programs, see the links at

To watch an exciting mini-documentary about the Dancing HeartTM program, Dancing HeartTM – Power to Nurture and Heal, visit

Maria Genné and members of Kairos danceTM are available for press interviews and television/radio program participation. Additional performance and KAIROS dancing HeartTM footage is available. Please contact to arrange.


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