Did you know dance is more than a social activity some people enjoy and others avoid? Medical professionals and therapists use dance as therapy.
Marian Chance, a pioneer of dance therapy, discovered the power of dance in the 1940s. When veterans came home from World War II, she used dance to help them express emotions, heal from trauma, and relieve stress. Dance is still used as treatment for conditions like eating disorders and depression. Dancing improves physical health and strengthens relationships, increasing happiness and wellbeing.
Senior Living—and Dancing—at Walker Methodist
Soon, residents at Walker Methodist Health Center will enjoy the transformative power of dance. Because of a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC), Walker Methodist is partnering with Kairos Alive! to bring dance programs to residents living at the Minneapolis campus.
Professional dance teachers and artists from Kairos Alive! will teach older adults though Dancing HeartTM sessions, culminating in the spring with an Intergenerational Dance HallTM. Kairos Alive! shares nationally recognized and research-based dance, music, and story programs with the mission of improving the health and wellbeing of older adults, their caregivers, and their family members.
The Walker Methodist Health Center Auxiliary is supporting the project with a $2,500 matching grant, and board members will serve as volunteers. “The board members are excited to take part in this program,” said Foundation Development Specialist Cathy Schutt. “This program will offer a sense of community and purpose to residents, allowing them to experience joy through dance. We meet basic needs like food, care, and shelter for our older adults, but we also want to offer activities that help them thrive.”
Dancing Their Way to Wellbeing
Dancing can be a powerful tool to improve emotional and social wellbeing. When older adults dance with friends, caregivers, and others, their connection to community is strengthened. In a caring environment, people can express themselves and find a social hobby they enjoy.
The benefits of dancing aren’t limited to those areas. It also improves physical health. Aging is often accompanied by a decrease in muscle mass, coordination, strength, flexibility, and balance, but dancing can counteract this decline. Dancing is even linked to improved cardiovascular health, cognitive ability, posture, and motor abilities.
Dancing is a fun, interactive way to care for the wellbeing of residents at Walker Methodist. “We strive to engage older adults with programs adding to their quality of life. The art of dancing will open up doors to many of our residents,” said Cathy. “Kairos Alive! will not only bring older adults together—they will bring our community together, both caregivers and residents. They can connect through the universal language of dance.”
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.