Dance isn’t just a social activity. In the 1940s, dance was taught to traumatised veterans of World War II to help them express their emotions and work through trauma and stress, and it’s still used today throughout the medical community as a form of therapy. However, dancing isn’t only an activity that benefits young people. Benefits from dance for seniors range from improving physical health to increasing sense of happiness and well-being.
If you ask a troupe of Tasmanian Baby Boomers, dancing is the answer to beating old age. Established in 2005, MADE (Mature Artists Dance Experience) is a non-profit Tasmanianbased arts organisation that partners professional artists with nonprofessional dancers to create and present beautiful contemporary dance theatre. The kicker? No kids allowed. The dances are performed by those aged 50 and over, in a primarily nontraditional performance space.
We spoke to Shirley Gibson from MADE about dance and the mature dancer.
Tell us a little about MADE
Shirley Gibson: MADE connects to audiences of all ages, communication life experiences, reflecting on life, and expressing story through dance/ theatre. Audiences are offered an alternative view of the mature body and contemporary dance in a performance context.
Dance performance for and by the mature body can either conform with or challenge dominant physical norms for people 50 years and older. It must be acknowledged that, via choreography and dance conventions, dance can create and maintain the “elderly” as a distinct and subordinated category. Further, the organizing of older adults’ dance very often takes place in terms of the discourses of healthism. MADE’s performance practice moved beyond both applications of dance.
Fundamentally, MADE views dance among mature community members as more than a popular health promoting and social activity. MADE views it as an area in which age relations are negotiated and constructed. We engage with this arena via embodied storytelling.