By Sadira DeMarino
Do you see certain groups of people working together successfully more often than others? What do they have in common? Mutual respect and understanding.
Well, thanks to a dance course taught by Delisa Myles and Breanna Rogers, you’ll be able to see two seemingly unlikely community groups come together this spring. The “Choreography in the Community” class has been taught six times through Prescott College, the first being in 2000. This is the second time that Myles and Rogers are collaborating on the class.
If you’ve been following the local dance scene, you may’ve seen these two dance together before. They’ve been choreographing and performing in pieces for five years together in and around Prescott.
This upcoming class and performance combines men and women 60 years or older who register through Prescott College, where Myles teaches, and high school-age youth from Spring Ridge Academy — a therapeutic boarding school where Rogers works as a dance and yoga teacher.
Worlds apart, together
Recently, I was lucky enough to sit down with Myles and Rogers and talk with them about the “Choreography in Community” project.
I asked them why they come back to this project again and again.
It’s the “intergenerational qualities of this project,” Myles said. “It is rare to find these two groups working together and they are usually interacting with their own age groups.”
They both found that this mixture of ages and backgrounds tends to bring out the best and new in them. It’s a great lesson in compassion: young and old, and the present self. Coming back to this project holds a kind of fascination, they said, a fascination to see far-flung people come together and share and learn from each other.
Myles talked about what it’s like to see the older generation. They’re inspirational role models who are still creating and participating in art. She believes this helps bridge the gap between age groups and shows younger participants that they can still create while holding on to all the ages they have inside them, allowing life to become a richer experience.
The program helps break down the walls and stereotypes about what it is to be older, to be a teenager, and how these two groups relate to each other, Myles and Rogers said. Dance allows them to relate in a vulnerable, human way that yields a new understanding of how to be part of a community.
They talked about how dance helps with listening and learning, how it facilitates reciprocal relationships.
The Spring Ridge Academy students are part of a therapeutic program that’s “teaching them how to relate to themselves and their families differently,” Rogers said. “This program will help add to the experience of relating outside of their families and will allow them to practice how to use the skills they’re learning in a different community.”
It also allows younger participants to take part in a non-family, non-school group and meet people from the community as equals, she added.
A group effort
Myles and Rogers went on to describe the mechanics of the class, explaining that it’s a tightly structural improvisational style. You might think those things do not go together, but they’re quick to explain that they rely on the chemistry of each group — that they have to trust in the creative process of the group. This allows for surprises that aren’t always anticipated; it’s a way of letting a unique dance piece unfold.
There’s a director, but, ultimately, the piece comes from the group. Myles and Rogers help shape the project — the group members are the ones who create it, though.
Prescott College’s “Choreography in the Community” class runs from the end of February through beginning of May. The culmination of this group’s project is two performances dubbed “A Secret Language: And Other Ways to Listen.”
One of these performances is held at Spring Ridge Academy and is closed to the public. But you can catch the other one on Saturday, May 3, at the Prescott College Granite Performing Arts Center. Admission is by donation, and all proceeds go to a local, community nonprofit group.
Email Delisa Myles at DMyles@Prescott.Edu for more information about Choreography in the Community.
Sadira DeMarino lives in Prescott, where she’s owned and operated the resale clothing store Snap Snap for 18 years. For the past two years she’s been in business with her mother at 133 N. Cortez St. Contact her at SadiraDas@Yahoo.Com.