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Lifelong Arts Engagement at Handmaker

by Nanci Levy | Nov 07, 2018

Arts for All Dance - 10.11.18 - 12“Dancing, at my age?” That was the reaction of one 92-year-old Handmaker resident when I told her about a dance class that we were planning at Handmaker. She was not the only skeptical one. But twelve 80-96-year-old residents showed up last month to the dance class, and by the looks on their faces, they all had a blast!

It was a chair dance class, but many could not help but get up and move, with the help of Dance Instructor Billbob. This was the first of a series of Art Classes that will take place in the various neighborhoods at Handmaker, as well as at SandRuby Adult Day program. Through a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and a partnership with Arts for All, Handmaker residents and SandRuby members will be treated to Dance, Art and Music classes led by amazing instructors, like Dance Instructor Billbob, which began in October and will continue through next April.

Wheelchairs and walkers did not stop any of our residents from swinging, swaying, twisting and having a fabulous time on Tynan, Rubin and at SandRuby at the first dance class. Billbob played music to their taste, and residents enjoyed singing along to the music, and learning a few new moves. One of our Tynan residents exclaimed, “I have not danced like that in 50 years” after the first class.

At the visual arts class a few weeks later, Harriett, the art teacher, brought dozens of photos, drawings and painting of trees to inspire residents, and then they were given paper and a pencil, and got to work. Many added color with paints, or water color crayons. Every one of the SandRuby participants, Handmaker Rubin and Rich Neighborhood residents enjoyed the process, and some were even happy with the end product.

Handmaker residents and SandRuby participants cannot wait for Billbob to come back and dance with them, to create more art with Harriett, and to listen to and perform music with Frank, the music teacher.

We are so grateful to Arizona Commission on the Arts for funding this Lifelong Arts Engagement Grant for Handmaker, and to Handmaker for providing the required matching funding. Having more arts programming at Handmaker keeps our residents' minds active and engaged, adding greatly to the quality and enjoyment of this time of their lives. As one resident put it, “Art is what feeds me. I do not need food, just give me some artwork to do!” She left the class satiated, and looking forward to the next one!