Vital Aging Network

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VAN Forum

Creativity, Dance and Storytelling: Staying Active, Vital and Engaged

December 7, 2009
10:30 AM to 12:30 PM

Maria Genne', Artistic and Executive Director of Kairos Dance
Nothando Zulu, Director, Black Storytellers Alliance

Southdale Library
7001 York Avenue South
Edina, MN 55435

Dancer/choreographer, Maria Genné, and storytelling artist, Nothando Zulu, will join creative forces in a lively, interactive art-making journey through storytelling and dance. They will share the how of their art forms, and why they are passionate about them.

Maria Genné is a dancer, choreographer and educator. She engages children, adults, and elders in listening to their bodies to find their unique way of dancing. Maria is the founder and executive/artistic director of Kairos Dance Theatre, an intergenerational dance company whose performers range in age from 5 to 99 years.

Nothando Zulu is the director of the Black Storytellers Alliance. The Alliance draws from the oral traditions practiced by African people to use storytelling as a source of instruction and entertainment. Nothando is a master storyteller who will enthrall and delight you.

See the flyer.



Twenty-five people attended VAN’s forum titled Creativity, Dance, and Storytelling: Staying Active, Vital, and Engaged. Maria Genné began the day by encouraging movement. As people were moving, Genné talked about how movement helps stimulate the body brain system.  Movement also helps people create new ideas and engage and connect with each other. Case-in-point, attendees at the Forum were talking, laughing, and mirroring movements of each other. Movement created a community within 10 minutes of the VAN Forum.

Not only does movement build community it also helps with creativity. Research indicates that prior to turning age 50 people tend to use one side of the brain over the other. This changes after 50, as people use both sides of the brain. The result of using both sides of the brain is that one becomes more creative and wise. Research is finding that the arts are an effective way to reduce health costs. Dr. Gene Cohen, whom recently passed away, demonstrates that people who participate in the arts live longer and have fewer doctors’ visits. Genné talked about how her Dancing Heart Program has been found to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s; and improve balance, muscle tone, memory, self-confidence, and mobility.

Once the movement portion of the morning was over, Master Storyteller, Nothando Zulu, told the story of Miz Maybelle and the Devil. This story can be found in VAN’s December e-Bulletin. Zulu said that stories help teach people the lessons and things that are necessary to learn.

Zulu then asked people what kind of stories they tell. Many participants talked about the stories they tell to their grandchildren…especially stories about their children. Stories are a way that traditions and ideas are passed down through the generation. Zulu also emphasized how much people need and want to tell and hear stories. Storytelling is just another way that engages and connects people to one another, families, communities, and the world.

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