A Physical Exploration of Memory

Launched in 2016, Stories in Motion is an intergenerational program that pairs the art of storytelling with expressive dance and choreography. Stories in Motion is a collaborative workshop between our senior citizen participants, who share their own stories and memories, with our teaching artists, who transcribe and translate those stories into poetry. During the creation of these poems our dancers then develop theatrical, movement phrases to accompany each piece. At the conclusion of each one hour workshop, the poems are spoken aloud with the assistance of a microphone and a ten minute dance piece is performed incorporating each participant’s story. We can facilitate workshops in either English or Spanish.

The goal of Stories in Motion is to explore pathways that link dance and memory through spoken word. In our workshops, the groups reflect on their lives, draw out emotions, and share untold stories and memories with their peers.

 Through the combination of spoken word, poetry and dance we create a unique interpretive and sensorial experience for our students. Each collaboration provides a catalyst for discussion, exploring language, imagery, emotional embodiment, and physical interpretation. Pairing the art of storytelling with dance motivates our participants to think of their own stories, embody their feelings and create their own movement to accompany their stories. While in their chairs, they also work on gestures to express their feelings and enhance those memories. With each session our students go deeper, pulling back layers to reveal stories from their childhood with tremendous detail. All seniors can participate regardless of their cognitive or physical ability. Stories in Motion builds community and friendships through story sharing and exposing common threads with others.

 “I do this because it’s downright inspirational. The seniors we work with are the gatekeepers of their neighborhoods, bearers of their rich history, we are blessed by every story they share- to learn more about the human struggle, and the context of living a full life. Our Stories in Motion class has also been dignifying for me as an artist, a place to bring my full self to a very welcoming audience, both the dancer in me and the person with stories to share as well. Where we combine Movement and story we are achieving great connection, consistently finding ourselves in conversations we didn’t expect to be in, looking at the lofty questions of life that ruminate at any age, and then dancing about them. It is such insightful work we are doing in those various rooms, I am privileged to be a part of it.” Debbie Maciel, Stories in Motion teaching artist