Trying something new and honing old skills at Chautauqua

“When you’re Encore, you’re Encore all the way from your opening move to the final hurray!” (sung to the tune of “When You’re a Jet”)

Shula dancing on the porch of the Athenaeum Hotel

Last week, over 80 singers, dancers  and actors all over the age of 50 came together at the Chautauqua Institution to spend a week exploring, creating, trying something new, honing old skills. The result was a week of fun and a performance of theatre scenes, original dance, choral numbers and for a grand finale, a re-imagining of a medley of songs from West Side Story.

This was my second summer with Encore Creativity for Older Adults teaching the movement classes and creating dances with these wonderful people. A highlight was definitely the equivalents dance created to text by the founders of Chautauqua warning against “idle pursuits such as drinking, gambling, dancing and theatre-going”.

Each year I also share some choreography with the participants. This year Cassie created a short solo for me that serves as the beginning of the research process for a piece about ecologist and writer Rachel Carson. I danced it on the porch of the Athenaeum Hotel at dusk one day. The experience made me hope for a full company residency to create a series of porch dances for some of the gorgeous homes on the campus.

About Shula Strassfeld

Shula Strassfeld began dancing “too late” and has been dancing ever since. She joined Dance Exchange in 2007.