Tools for Health in Milwaukee

This week, Michelle, Thomas and I are in residence at St. John’s on the Lake in Milwaukee, WI. We’ve just wrapped up a two-day Tools for Health training with local dancers and health care workers, and tomorrow we begin working with a group of residents to create a short piece for a showing on Friday. We’re also documenting the whole process in collaboration with a videographer, so you can expect to see clips from that later this summer.


In addition to learning Dance Exchange tools and methods for generating and crafting movement, the participants shared their own practices when working with seniors with varying cognitive and physical abilities, crafted dances, developed potential workshops for their constituents, and participated in two Dance Exchange-led workshops with residents at St. John’s. A number of issues emerged around how we talk about what we do: we’re not dance therapists, but the impact of our work as artists can have a therapeutic effect, and can have an impact on clinical goals. How do we document goals met and provide evidence for our other artists and health care providers? A new dance, an article, clinical assessments with residents, participant writings, blogging, video–there are many ways and we’re finding more.

In the spirit of finding multiple outcomes in this kind of work: We had each of our participants fill out pre- and post-assessment forms about their experience in the training. One of our participants, an Occupational Therapist, told us that on her pre-assessment form, she circled “1” in response to the question “Do you consider yourself a dancer?” On her post-assessment form, she circled “4”.

If you are interested in learning more about Tools for Health or attending a future training, please email Dorothy Williams, Partnerships Manager: dorothyATdanceexchange.org.

About Sarah Levitt

Sarah Levitt (Resident Artist/Communications Coordinator) is a dancer, choreographer and teacher based in Maryland.