New Community Dance Hall™ Innovation at Wilder Community Center for Aging and Minneapolis American Indian Center


Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 3, 2015.  People of all ages and abilities having fun and improving their health together – dancing, singing and telling stories to live music accompaniment ­– shouldn’t be so strange.

Kairos Alive!, the Minnesota arts and arts education organization nationally recognized as a pioneer in the Creative Aging and Arts and Health fields is offering two of its innovative New Community Dance Hall™ community participation events at local venues:

  • Monday, June 15, 2015, 10am-Noon, at the Wilder Community Center for Aging, 650 Marshall Avenue, Saint Paul, with live music from jazz masters the Kevin Washington Quartet.
  • Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 11am-12:30pm, at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, 530 East Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis, with live music from swing favorites Patty and the Buttons.

Members of the public are invited to both events. Since our community includes vulnerable elders, some with physical and cognitive impairments, we ask that you contact Kairos Alive! by phone to be included on our guest list (612-926-5454).

The Kairos Alive! New Community Dance Hall™ was recently featured in the National Center for Creative Aging’s “The Creative Age: Creativity and Aging in America Leadership Exchange and Conference” in Washington, D.C. in May. It’s a unique community dance, music and story involvement program for intergenerational participants ages 1-100 and of all abilities that creates research-verifiable health benefits. Kairos Alive!’s weekly program, the Dancing Heart™, is recognized as a model Arts and Health involvement program by the NCCA, National Endowment for the Arts, American Public Health Association and the American Society on Aging, and was featured in the 2012 PBS documentary, Arts and the Mind.

Kairos Alive! New Community Dance Hall™ is an all ages and abilities re-imagining of the dance hall as the community intersection of artistic, physical, and social involvement, that puts 55+ active adults at the center of intergenerational community life. At the New Community Dance Hall™ people of all ages and abilities – children, youth and adults of any age – have fun and experience meaning, together! Ours is a model of radical inclusion that involves all ages and abilities in dance/music/story/theater arts creation. Some older adults and people with special abilities may do “chair dancing” from their wheel chairs. We’ve found ways to adapt the square dance and line dancing for those with physical or cognitive impairments, and for those with developmental abilities; ways that are meaningful, full of joy and have dignity for all involved.

The dance hall idea was inspired by listening to participants who expressed nostalgia for the dances that were once at the center of intergenerational life. All over the country, in halls, barns, and gyms, dances were community events where news was shared, friendships deepened, courtships blossomed, and stories and tunes passed down. Today, these ritual gatherings, where music and dance brought generations together under one roof, no longer exist. Kairos Alive! has revived the tradition with the intention of making arts participation, health education and intergenerational mentoring the focus.

Kairos Alive!’s “artistic interventions” involve a radical inclusion – as art makers – of people of all ages, and their caregivers, family members, volunteers and other community members who don’t usually think of themselves as artists. We confound usual expectations about who is involved in arts creation, where this happens, how quality artistic works can be achieved, and the manifest results of this involvement. This activity results in often deeply moving dance/story/music/theater works that are one-of-a-kind and often non-repeatable.

The New Community Dance Hall™ brings together people of all ages and abilities to take part in lively, interactive dance/story/theater events. Participants dance to live music performed by professional musicians. This is an opportunity to bring the whole community together ­– with 55+ active adults at the center, connected by family relationship and friendship ties, for joyful participation, health education, and development of personal and community wellbeing. It is a grand time!

Through this dance, music and story theater involvement, research verifiable health benefits are created, including better balance, increase of activities, less depression, maintenance of cognition, fewer doctor visits, and less use of medication.

“It went from good to great, and made you wanting to do it again. It was great to see all the elders come to be part of it.”

John Outlaw, Director, Pearl Park Community Center

“My children need to be with elders in this way!”

Mother attending with her 2 pre-school age daughters

“The kids LOVED it! I think they could have danced for another hour. What an eclectic group; from older adults to people with disabilities, families with young children and 20-something younger men – we danced the night away together.”

– Detroit Lakes, MN New Community Dance Hall™ Participants

“The Kairos leaders made the environment feel safe for everyone present, and provided adaptations as needed for differing physical abilities. The genuine happiness was contagious.”

St. Catherine University student participants

Kairos Alive! Choreography of Care™ programs create personal and community wellbeing through our Kairos Dance™ interactive staged events, Moving Well™ training and education programs, Dancing Heart™ weekly programming, New Community Dance Hall™ public participation events, and our Community Arts and Wellbeing™ Residencies.

Under the direction of Maria Genné, Kairos Alive!, a performing arts and arts learning organization, liberates the healing power of interactive participatory dance, music, story and theatre to transform and revitalize individuals and communities.

Over more than 14 years, we have collaborated with major arts, community, social service and healthcare organizations, directly serving over 8,000 Minnesotans, 90% of whom were older frail adults, at over 34 sites and many performing venues. This has resulted in numerous interactive performing art works, and social and organizational, and research verifiable health benefits. We helped found ArtSage Minnesota, the arts advocacy organization. The participatory performing arts programs of some regional health care providers were developed with our involvement. Five masters theses have been written based on our work. Genné and Kairos Alive! have contributed to research in the Arts and Health and Creative Aging fields.


“Choreography of Care™ is a way of participating in the world, through collaborative caring encounters of dance, music and story to create personal and community wellbeing.”

– Maria Genné, Director, Kairos Alive!


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For more the Kevin Washington Quartet, visit:

For more on Patty and the Buttons, visit:

For more on the Wilder Community Center on Aging, visit:

For more on the Minneapolis American Indian Center, visit:

For more about Kairos Alive! programs, and the research about the health benefits of our work, visit:



Partial funding for Kairos Alive! is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund.

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