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During the beginning of the pandemic, we surveyed the community to discover that residents were looking to the arts more than ever, challenging theatres to develop creative ways for continuing to enrich lives. The assessment proved that to help students succeed academically, arts organizations must provide resources and support to families during and after this disruption. The survey also revealed the need to combat social isolation for older adults. In an effort to bridge the generational gap, we incorporated intergenerational programming.

Intergenerational programs challenge existing cultural narratives on aging and the older adult population through cross-generational collaboration and experiential education. Studies from the Lifetime Arts reveal that older adults benefit from increased socialization, reduced isolation, and increased emotional support. Additional benefits for youth include improved academic performance, enhanced social skills, decreased negative behavior, increased stability, more positive attitudes toward aging and the elderly, and increased empathy toward those with physical and/or cognitive disabilities.

On February 5, 2021, Bishop Arts Theatre Center (BATC) in collaboration with Booker T. Washington High School of the Performing & Visual Arts premiered the free virtual dance film screening of Dancing Into The Past (DITP).

BATC will partner with Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts Dance Department to present the second iteration of our Dancing In The Past Project. The initiative is an intergenerational program that brings Booker T dance students and participants from of our creative aging program, PatioLive, to co-create the life narratives of the older participants through choreography. An in-person, live performance is planned for May 1st at the Dallas Arboretum during Black Heritage Day.

DITP project supports Bishop Arts Theatre Centers’ mission to serve marginalized communities by creating opportunities for emerging artists of all ages. This intergenerational project infuses cinematography and choreography to deliver impactful stories shared by older adults and interpreted by teens. The film screening is the first phase of the project. The co-creation will continue in 2021 with an exhibition of still images accompanied by study guides as permanent artwork for BATC. More information will be posted at a later date.

Click here to view the Facebook Live, including the Talkback with the students.


Dancing Into The Past is sponsored by the Fay Slover Fund/The Boston Foundation.