OLDER ADULTS FIND CREATIVE EXPRESSION THROUGH MOVEMENT AND DANCE
November 19, 2019
By Molissa Udevitz, Anchorage Museum Educator
The Anchorage Museum’s Expressive Movement Series is the second of three 8-week Vital & Creative workshops providing opportunities for adults age 55 and older to create art and interact with their peers through activities infused with Northern traditional knowledge and lifeways. For this series, we invited a variety of guest artists and speakers to share their knowledge of different aspects of dance.
In recent classes, participants aged 55-90 examined a traditional Tlingit tunic from the museum’s collection and watched and discussed videos of dancers. They also engaged in warm-up movements and walked in circular formations to live musical accompaniment.
Inspiration from the museum collection
The museum’s collection helps expand understanding of movement, and Collections staff carefully select and share with the group objects and archival materials related to dance. The class has examined artwork including a video created by contemporary Alaska Native artist Nicolas Galanin, original sketches of the Iñupiaq Wolf Dance circa 1900 and archival materials of Anchorage arts performances presented in scrapbooks.
Other guests have included University of Alaska Anchorage Professor Maria Williams, who spoke about the Iñupiaq Wolf Dance and the use of regalia that makes sounds as dancers move. Anchorage ballet instructor Alice Sullivan taught participants ballet body postures, and Yup’ik artist Michelle Snyder shared her knowledge of Yup’ik dance. Percussionist Corliss Kimmel and pianist Margarita Merkusheva have provided musical accompaniment for several classes, inspiring participants and their movements.
Movement and memories
Participants explore a variety of body movements along with balance and stretching exercises during the movement portion of classes. They also learn dance composition skills to create simple “movement phrases” and explore movement improvisation within a provided structure. The class culminates with participants experimenting with ways they can move in relation to each other in the museum’s Art of the North gallery. These group compositions will be videoed so that each participant can keep a record of their work.
The next Vital & Creative series runs Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Jan. 8 through Feb 26, 2020 and is already full. Participants will engage in reflective writing and explore book making with Anchorage artist Susan Joy Share. Older adults interested in participating may email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the email list and receive notification when registration for future workshops open.
We are able to deliver these Vital & Creative series with generous support from a $25,000 Seeding Vitality Arts in Museums grant from Aroha Philanthropies. Aroha Philanthropies Seeding Vitality Arts in Museums initiative addresses the urgent need to change the narrative about what it means to grow old in America, combat ageism and promote a healthy change in attitudes toward aging as senior populations grow. The Anchorage Museum was one of 20 museums across the country to receive the grant.