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Dancing together at any age

The Bone Builders exercise class ends in a huddle after dancing together with the Kairos Alive! Team. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)1 / 2
Maria Genne leads the Bone Builders exercise class at Morgan Park Community Center in the Twist. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)2 / 2

The Monday morning Bone Builders exercise class at the Morgan Park Community Center doesn't usually end its sessions with a dance party. But the usual senior-focused strength and stretch exercise class was taken over by a Twin Cities based intergenerational dance and wellness group called Kairos Alive! on Oct. 17.

"We don't really dance much. That's not part our normal routine," said class attendee Sheldean Ion. "But it was something different. It made us move and it was fun."

The exercise class was one of several stops in the Twin Ports for the Kairos Alive! three-day artist residency program. Later that day, the group visited the Valley Youth Center after school program in the Laura MacArthur Elementary school gym to lead a dance session, which they call the Dancing Heart.

On Tuesday, the group lead an introductory session for community members and health caregivers about using "creative engagement, such as dance, theater, music and storytelling to care for ourselves and those we love," according to founder and director Maria Genne. She said this visit to Duluth is one of three that the nonprofit art and exercise group hopes to make within the next year.

"We're just getting started. This time we're mostly reaching out to people and making connections. Next time we come back we want to get more people, of all ages, out dancing together and engaging with each other," Genne said.

Genne is a proponent of intergenerational artistic expression. Her organization hosts dance and art programs that encourage people of all ages, but especially focuses on including elderly people to collaborate through dance, theater and storytelling.

"Our goal is to make sure that elders are in the center of intergenerational communities and not on the outside," Genne said.

The dance programs she leads focus on helping people see dance as a simple and social expression.

"We always start out easy, by strolling together to the music. Dancing isn't much more than walking. It's just about moving together," Genne said. "I always say that dancing together is good medicine. That's my mantra. And it's medicine without side effects."

Part of her goal, in bringing Kairos Alive! programs to the area, is to encourage the development of different programs for the aging community.

"For older adults, one of the biggest problems is isolation. And dancing together is the opposite of that. So we need people to say, we need different programs. We're the beyond bingo generation and we want to do other things," Genne said.

Kairos Alive! Will return to the Twin Ports later this year or in early 2017 to host more events. In the meantime, Genne is looking for allies and organizations who are interested in getting involved with the effort. To find more information about Kairos Alive! visit To get involved, email

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.

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