Kairos Alive! Intergenerational Dance Halls™
Augustana Open Circle of Heritage Park in North Minneapolis; Southwest Senior Center in Southwest Minneapolis; and Centro Tyrone Guzman in Southeast Minneapolis
Kairos Alive! Intergenerational Dance Hall™ is a revival of the dance hall as the community intersection of artistic, physical and social involvement – designed for all ages and abilities with elders at the center. These intergenerational, intercultural events feature live music performed by professional musicians, and are led by Kairos artists versed in participatory dance, story and theatre – intended to promote arts participation, health education, and personal and community well-being.
Intergenerational Dance Halls™ provide opportunities for people ages 1-101 to share their creativity – no matter their abilities – with their peers, families and friends. They are designed as a creative collaboration between participants and professional artists where the boundaries between performer and audience are dissolved.
These events, held in the Spring of 2016, were funded via the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) through Together in Time, a Community Anchors project funded by IMLS’s Museums for America program that aims to meet the needs of a diverse, aging population by empowering them as lifelong learners, encouraging them to tell stories and supporting their caregivers in their essential roles.
Intended to promote arts participation, health education and personal and community well-being, the objective of these dance halls are in alignment with those of Centro Minneapolis, serving the Latino community; and of Southwest Senior Center and Augustana Open Circle, serving the African American communities.
At Augustana Open Circle, approximately 30 frail elders, their family members and/or caregivers were in attendance including residents from Heritage Park Campus and Open Circle Adult Day Program Seniors – the majority of which were from the African American community. This mixed housing, memory care and nursing facility is a project of the City of Minneapolis and HUD, managed by Augustana. MNHS staff and curators were also present. Live music provided by the Kevin Washington Quintet – an Afro Latin/Jazz group.
Roughly 30 elders, family members, staff and volunteers attended the Southwest Senior Center dance hall, including participants from Walker Methodist Health Center and Mary Ann Schoenberger, Director of SW Senior Center.
Attendees represented a mix of active older adults and frail adults, as well as different cultures and abilities. Live music performed by the Kevin Washington Quintet.
At Centro, approximately 180 elders, family members, staff, volunteers and the public were in attendance representing the Latin American community across 10 countries. Collaborating artist Kathryn Gonzalez, a native of Mexico and fluent Spanish speaker, joined Kairos artists in facilitating this dance hall. Live music was performed by Cuban band Malamanya. MHS and Centro staff including Rozana Lenares, Executive Director; Yolima Chambers, Health and Wellness Administrator; and Sandra Reyes, Wise Elder Coordinator also took part in the planning and festivities which included tents, food trucks and sound system to meet the needs of the outdoor venue.
“As part of this grant, Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) aims to build an understanding of the needs and challenges of African American and Latino caregivers. MNHS and partners will also explore any barriers caregivers encounter using the current tools and programs available through cultural organizations for people with memory loss. Working with Kairos allows MNHS to explore potential education outreach and community building within this target group.” – Maren Levad, MN Historical Society Museum Access Specialist.
“What Kairos does is a lot of what the SW Senior Center philosophy is of working with older adults… encouraging them to be really active and to use their brains and bodies in ways they don’t think they can. We see that in the work of Dr. Gene Cohen who did all kinds of great studies around high level arts programming and the effect it can have on people. We also see it in people who move and socialize have lower incidences of memory loss. So we think doing these kinds of high level arts programs and the work Kairos is doing is important in getting people to maximize their ability to stay independent. That’s what we’re really looking at – to maximize independence and do it in a really fun way.” – Mary Ann Schoenberger, Director of Southwest Senior Center
“This is a really great way to show how you feel. I look at it as a healing tool, too, because it makes you feel better. Some of the seniors say that after they dance or do something artistic, they just feel better – they don’t feel pain, so it is just a great tool.” – Yoli Chambers, Health and Wellness Administrator, Centro Tyrone Guzman
Kairos Intergenerational Dance HallsTM create connections between cultures and ages. With sharing of elder’s stories and shared dance, they enable community building on a different level than most senior/elder programs. Elders, and their relationships with family, peers and caregivers, are re-vitalized through participatory intercultural and intergenerational experiences.
In The Spotlight: At the Augustana Open Circle dance hall, a daughter brought her elderly mother. She sat behind her mother for most of the dance hall, allowing her mother to have the experience while keeping a close eye on her. Kairos artist Nicholas invited the daughter to dance in a circle with her mother. The moment transformed and became “their” experience, participating together.
At the Centro dance hall, two elder men near the end requested the drummer (a young man in his 30s) drum especially for them. They wanted to keep dancing! Soon they were tearing up the parking lot with their elegant footwork and passionate spirit! These two elder men held the attention of every younger man in the band.
“We all started out with reservations. As the program progressed, through the leadership present, EVERYONE participated and a total transformation in faces and bodies occurred – from hesitation to full involvement. It was wonderful.” Elder participant at Southwest Senior Center
“I came with 72 years and now I feel like 52.” Armando, elder at Centro dance hall
“Today was one of the most fabulous events here at the Center.” – Elder at Centro dance hall
“I am filled with joy and a sense of aliveness.” – Elder at MHS/Kairos Intergenerational Dance Hall
“The experience of elders dancing with their grandchildren, families gathering around their grandparents and young and old alike moving in unison to a common beat upon common ground is more than social entertainment. It is a fundamental proclamation of core social values, a demonstration of cultural resiliency and an experimental practice of peaceful interrelated living.” – Nicholas, Kairos Alive! Teaching Artist
Maria Genne, Director/Founder of Kairos Alive!, Maren Levad of MNHS, and Kathryn Gonzalez of Bemidji Participatory Arts Collective will present at the international NCAA Conference “The Creative Age – Global Perspectives on Creative Aging” in Washington D.C. in Fall 2016. Their program, Health and Community Creation through Movement, addresses ways urban and rural communities across the U.S. have adapted Kairos’ collaborative intergenerational and interdisciplinary model to the unique needs of older adult learners.
“In combination with movement, music has stimulated responses to rhythm both intrinsically and socially across generations and cultures (Kreutz, 2008). Being involved in music activities can help a person connect with personal life experiences and other people (Levitin & Tirovolas, 2009, Yin Yi et al., 2010).” from Wengler, Therese A., ” The Importance of a Creative Arts Program for Senior Housing Residents” (2015). Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy Theses. Paper 8. Wengler’s theses focuses on Kairos programs for community dwelling older adults.
What Kairos does is a lot of what the SW Senior Center philosophy is of working with older adults… encouraging them to be really active and to use their brains and bodies in ways they don’t think they can. We see that in the work of Dr. Gene Cohen who did all kinds of great studies around high level arts programming and the effect it can have on people. We also see it in people who move and socialize have lower incidences of memory loss. So we think doing these kinds of high level arts programs and the work Kairos is doing is important in getting people to maximize their ability to stay independent. That’s what we’re really looking at – to maximize independence and do it in a really fun way.
This is a really great way to show how you feel. I look at it as a healing tool, too, because it makes you feel better. Some of the seniors say that after they dance or do something artistic, they just feel better – they don’t feel pain, so it is just a great tool.