“Can anyone tell me the name of this program?” I ask a large group of Milwaukee school students and adults from local senior care facilities who are kicking off a Danceworks outreach program. We are at the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM). This particular program pairs up students and elders. They have all just returned from gallery tours with the inspiring MAM docents.
Twenty hands fly up. “Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh…!” I close my eyes and point, “You!” then look right into a pair of bright brown eyes staring back at me. I slip the microphone in front of his mouth.
“Danzenenzomeonelzez shooz,” the young man speaks really softly.
“What was that? Can you please say that a little louder?”
“Dancing in Someone Else’s Shoes,” he repeats.
“You are very smart! That is the THEME of the program—that’s what the program is about. Great answer but what is the NAME of the program?”
Another group of hands go up and I choose the girl right in front of me.
“Danceworks!” she yells out.
“Oh my goodness you are smart too! That is the name of the organization that does the program that has the theme Dancing in Someone Else’s Shoes, but what is the NAME of the program you are doing with Danceworks?” (This is what I was afraid of. The name of our program is too long and no one can remember it.) I give a clue.
“The letters that stand for the name of the program are I-M-A-P. What does the ’I’ stand for?”
With a little work we agree on Intergenerational. “That’s a big word. What does it mean?” (Who named this program anyway…? Oh right, I was part of that.) We decide that it means different ages of people coming together.
“Okay, how about the ‘M’?”
“You’re all correct! It’s all those things. When you put them together you get the answer. The ‘M’ stands for ‘Multi-Arts,’ so we have ‘Intergenerational Multi-Arts’. That’s a mouthful; I think maybe we should change the name of this program…Now the ‘P,’”, who can tell me what that stands for?”
“Program!” a unison chorus.
“We did it! Danceworks Intergenerational Multi-Arts Program, or IMAP as we call it for short, is the name of the program you are in. Good job — now just one more question. Why do we do IMAP?”
I can’t help but call on a girl who jumps up from her seat. “Don’t change the name!” she exclaims.
“Okay, that’s a deal, but why do we do IMAP?” I persist.
“To meet people we wouldn’t otherwise.”
“Yes! And what’s important about bringing young and old together?
“They teach us.”
“Right—we learn from http://www.healthandrecoveryinstitute.com/soma-carisoprodol-muscle-relaxant/ each other. Why else do we do it?”
I squeeze between two rows of seats to get to a young man sitting patiently with his hand politely in the air. He looks up at me with anticipation and I hold the mic under his chin. “Why do you think we do it?”
“Love,” he answers.
Kids know how to get to the point. Moments like this strengthen my faith in our city. “Yes, you are so right. We do it because of love—because we love our community and the people in it. We love the stories you each have to share about your lives.”
I think they covered it: IMAP brings together young and old, to create movement, music and art projects that draw out the experiences of their lives, help them understand others’ experiences and draws them to each other. Friendships are developed with people one would never have expected to meet, much less grow to love.
“You know what is really special about this?” I finish up. “We may one day lose the people we love, but we don’t have to lose their stories. Thank you for keeping the stories alive.”
Our drummer, Julio Pabon, begins to lead the closing and gets everyone moving to his rhythm, either in their seats or on the floor.
Rachel Payden, then Danceworks’ Outreach Director, concludes the event with a big thank you to everyone. A woman in a wheelchair motions to her to come closer. Rachel bends down to meet her eyes. The woman lights up. “I did music.”
“You did?!” Rachel exclaims.
“Yes! French horn… organ… and something else…”
“You played three instruments?!”
“I did!” She grins….
That’s what it’s all about.
We want to thank Laci Coppins and all the wonderful Milwaukee Art Museum docents who gave their time to make our trip really special. We are so grateful to our partners and funders who bring IMAP to life!
Schools: Bruce Guadalupe Community School, Grantosa Drive School, MacDowell Montessori School, Maryland Avenue Montessori School, Ralph Waldo Emerson School, Vieau School
Elder Care Facilities: Hart Park Square, Luther Manor Adult Day Center, Luther Manor Courtyards, St. John’s on the Lake, United Community Center’s Latino Geriatric Center, United Community Center’s Senior Center
Helen Bader Foundation, Greater Milwaukee Foundation-Mary Nohl Fund, United Performing Arts Fund, CAMPAC and Wisconsin Arts Board
Questions about IMAP? Contact Posy Knight, Director of Community Programs, at 414.277.8480 x6012, or via email.
Get Connected! For information about IMAP sponsorship, please contact Candice Wegner, Director of Philanthropy, at 414.277.8480 x6014, or via email.
Welcome to the Danceworks blog, where we're hoping to share a little bit more about the heart and soul behind Danceworks… what made us join the dance and keeps us dancing, what keeps us inspired, and where we can share some of the stories worth telling.