I have thoroughly enjoyed the past week of community dance programs; the groups have felt even more uplifting and interconnected than previously.
Below are some compiled anecdotes – things definitely are busy even though community centre classes are on break for the summer! So far this month there have been 81 new people at programs, and this week I have danced with 100 different people. It feels wonderful to make so many connections.
Notes from the past week:
- Towards the end of last Thursday’s adaptive dance session at Garth Homer Society, we were all moving in a circle in the same direction. A participant started doing the grape vine and a staff person mentioned to him that she had not seen him taking such big steps before. Two participants started improvising together in the middle of the circle doing partner dancing. When the program started in February, a staff person observed that “it’s wonderful to see so many clients across a wide range all engaged by the same activity – it’s rare.”
- That afternoon, after a Dancing for Brain Health demo where 25 members of Seniors’ Social Connections at James Bay Community Project had danced seated in a circle, a participant in her late 70s danced over towards me doing an exuberant Merengue step – we danced together for a bit and she mentioned she planned to dance the whole way out of the building.
- I began yesterday with Dance Games with a group of 4-6 year olds at a Burnside Gorge Community Association camp. I was amused by how a brand new activity emerged when participants heard my instructions in a different way than I had intended. The participants also had creative suggestions for how to move around and under a giant jelly fish prop.
Yesterday afternoon I was at Amica’s Somerset House retirement residence for a weekly program. We waltzed around the room and ended with laughing while doing mini dances to ABBA’s song Dancing Queen.
- In the evening I taught a Dance Improvisation session for a modern technique class the Victoria School of Contemporary Dance, for which I drew on exercises from Crystal Pite, Margie Gillis, Jung-Ah Chung and Helen Walkley. I enjoyed witnessing the exquisite improv and duets along the length of the studio.
- This morning I led dance activities with 7-9 year olds at a Burnside Gorge camp. During an activity of passing the dance around the circle (with an opportunity for each person to come up with a move for the group to follow), one participant deflected the focus when it was her turn and suggested to skip to the next person; yet as soon as the next person started to have his turn the person who had passed along her turn launched into ecstatic jumping with an enormous grin and stretching arms and legs – and we joyfully followed her lead!
- This afternoon at Sunrise of Victoria, which is an assisted living residence, I felt really inspired by the group of regular participants. We warmed up with the BrainDance and then did some step dance. During a ballet port-au-bras (carrying their arms), I felt moved and delighted by how open and graceful everyone’s movements were. After a particular session there a couple of months ago, where some participants seemed hesitant to dance and self-conscious, I wondered if the Movement to Music sessions were a good fit for the location; yet now each time after the session’s time is up, participants continue to tap their toes and move their arms, they are looking relaxed and content, and there is collective reluctance to end our dance. I adapt activities for the people present, including dancers with Alzheimer’s and memory loss, changes in mobility, depression, and dancers who are hard of hearing and blind.
- Tonight I organized for an All Genders Queer Social Dance practice at Heart & Hands Health Collective. We problem-solved our way through the bits and pieces of steps we remembered from Queer Tango classes in 2012 and a handful of Queer Swing and Blues lessons this year. We are looking forward to social dance starting back up in the Fall.
Tomorrow I am collaborating with Letitia Annamalai to co-facilitate a Body Movement & Stage Presence workshop outdoors with a dozen young rock stars. Since Monday at Girls Rock Camp participants have formed bands, learned new instruments, written songs, and rehearsed for their gig at the Art Gallery this Saturday!