Oh the Places! / Life Stories through Movement and Music in Eagan, MN

Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater (SPDT), led by Artistic Co-Directors Suzanne Costello and Stuart Pimsler, will present its newest Arts & Health program Oh the Places I’ve Been!/ Life Stories told through Movement and Music at two different senior housing developments in Dakota county, through the support of an Arts Project Support grant from the Metro Regional Arts Council. This grant provides funding for groups providing quality arts experiences to communities within the seven-county metro area. Oh the Places will provide an opportunity for senior adults to express the breadth of their life experiences in new ways. 

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Over the course of five weeks, Oh the Places! will engage older adults in a series of movement/storytelling workshops at O’Leary Manor and Lakeside Pointe, two different sites operated by the Dakota County Community Development Agency. SPDT Artistic Co-Director Suzanne Costello will facilitate these workshops together with the company’s teaching artists. Throughout the series of weekly workshops at each location, participants will be invited to contribute stories on a shared topic, such as where they grew up, where they worked, places they traveled, or favorite pastimes. 

Each week, the shared stories will serve as the focus for creating movement and gestures, guided by the artists. At the conclusion of each workshop, the group’s ideas will be woven together into “movement stories” that the SPDT artists will expand and set to music. Over the course of the project, participants will learn creative methods of expression, broaden their range of movement possibilities, celebrate the richness of their life experiences, and strengthen their connections with one another. On the final day of the project, residents will share what they have created with an audience of family members, friends, and residential staff. This will conclude with SPDT’s signature Talk Piece, a post-performance conversation between audience members and the participants, to create a sense of community and provide closure for the artistic experience. 
SPDT developed this project to provide a quality arts experience for aging adults in the Dakota County community. Recently, Artistic Co-Director Costello was invited to present SPDT’s community-based initiatives at the International Conference on Arts, Health & Wellbeing in Bristol, U.K., which focused on the critical need for more arts programming for elders. As the arts strive to reach underserved populations, the aging are often overlooked. This project will engage economically challenged older adults with little or no access to arts programming. It will validate participants’ life stories while offering them a new opportunity to participate in the arts.