“For ageing is a privilege not a predicament”
Ageing is a process which scares me- as it does many of us. This fear is not centred on looks, as such, but rather on my body. As a dancer, my body is my canvas, my tool, my income. Accepting it in its youthful state hasn’t always been easy, so how am I to cope with a tired, ageing body? Movement is my solitude and outlet. How will I possibly cope when my body stops moving the way that I ask it to. Ageing comes with scary associations of impairments and vulnerability. I love independence and control, so this notion does not bode well with me. Watching my loved ones age has given me insight into the process and the unwanted side effects.
My perspective began to shift as I engaged with more dance work amongst older adults. Their stories and outlook on the world have allowed me to view ageing as a process of collecting moments and memories for this is all we will have when life as we know it is done. Regardless of the difficulties that the ageing process possesses, the way in which you approach the process in its entirety can help to eradicate the associated fears.
Ultimately, I have been scared of my ageing body and its capacity to dance. However, through introducing Hip Hop dance to older adults, I have seen ageing bodies perform incredible movement. Working in this sector has enabled me to come away from the aesthetics of dance and really focus on what it feels like to move, particularly alongside other people. Despite a wealth of impairments, my participants find joy in the time we spend moving together.
I use Hip Hop as my medium because as a dance style, it welcomes everyone, regardless of their age, race or background. Hip Hop is centred on embracing individuality, so it serves as a great platform for a diverse range of participants. My sessions act as a rare moment of intergenerational connectivity. Most of my older adult participants had not heard of Hip Hop prior to meeting me, yet within and hour, they have embraced the culture and moved their bodies in a completely new style despite any disabilities, impairments of pain they suffer from.
The inclusive nature of Hip Hop has allowed me to adapt the movement in my sessions so that it can be performed from seated positions and with limited mobility. Introducing new movement to older adults provides an opportunity for them to reminisce on times they moved before and the feelings that it evoked at that time. Through this, I have seen that moving a body, even an ageing one creates joy and is the only way to again feel what it was to move a young able body. Now, I no longer fear the incapability’s of a old body but rather look forward to the adventures my body will move through as it ages.