Recent studies have shown the positive effects of exposing the elderly to the arts, like decline in depression, increased social engagement, reduced stress and an increase in overall health and happiness.
Dances for a Variable Population is an organization at the forefront of this movement. Established in 2005 by choreographer and former Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer Naomi Goldberg Haas, DVP brings free movement workshops and affordable classes to elderly populations throughout the New York City area. “You’d be surprised by how many people find excitement in dancing and really just need a place and a program available to them,” says Haas. With workshops currently in the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, DVP keeps expanding as more communities catch on to the organization’s mission. Students report having more mobility, greater sense of self, greater understanding of different ways the body can move, more expression and more connection to other people.
Photo by Kelly Stuart, courtesy of Dances for a Variable Population