An older man sits in a chair, with an older woman behind him. Both have their arms outstretched in a dancing pose

Sharing through dance

Finding togetherness in ballet
Since the beginning of time, dance has been an important way for humans to express themselves. This is certainly true for people living in Revera’s Retirement Residences across the country. Many of them recently took part in a program with Canada’s National Ballet School, which brought dance into their residences, promoting fitness and providing a creative outlet through movement.

“The Sharing Dance Seniors Program is an initiative that demonstrates dance is for everyone,” says Rachel Bar, Manager of Health and Research Initiatives at Canada's National Ballet School. “Creativity and the joy of movement have no age limit.”
“Our residents smile the whole time they are dancing.”
This safe and accessible program creates dance activity that benefits older adults’ physical, cognitive and overall health. A key component of the program is ensuring that it is accessible to all people regardless of experience and physical ability. The program can be adapted to accommodate people who may rely on walking aids or a wheelchair.

The program from Canada's National Ballet School is taught through a series of video lessons that residents can follow. Residents at Leaside Retirement Residence in Toronto, Ontario enjoyed the creative movements and remarked that the class didn’t seem like exercise. “The Sharing Dance Program has been a lot of fun,” says Rhona Voros, the Director of Recreation at Leaside. “This program allowed the residents to express themselves through dance and provided a great venue for social inclusion.”

Billy Idol may have sung about dancing with yourself, but the biggest benefit is realized when dance is done as part of a group. Apart from the social aspect, there are also many health benefits such as increased muscle endurance, greater flexibility, improved balance reducing the risk of falls and improved aerobic power.

Residents at The Bentley Regina in Saskatchewan also had a great time putting their dancing shoes on. “I love seeing the residents doing the dance moves, while singing along to the songs,” says Activity Manager Melissa Schmidt. “Our residents smile the whole time they are dancing.”

Revera’s residents prove that older adults are able and want to pursue new activities and participate in an active lifestyle through their later years. Fred, a resident at Maplecrest Village in Grimsby, Ontario, explained, "The program is very good, and I can feel my muscles working gently while I sing the old time favourites." Keep on dancing to the beat, Fred.
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