What is solitary but not creative has health benefits but not fun benefits? The answer: exercise. Although it’s important to our health and many people have developed great walking, jogging, or gym routines, it is not an expressive outlet. But what if there were alternative exercise approaches that were captured with imagination? What if it engaged you intellectually and creatively?
Conductorcise is a “workout for the mind, body and soul”. For decades, Maestro David Dworkin, now in his 70s, led orchestras here and abroad and also taught hundreds of gifted young people. Realizing that after conducting he was sweating from the intensity of his movements, Dworkin developed an opportunity for seniors to have a similar experience. Participants in his Conductorcise programs enhance their listening skills, learn about composers and are taught how to use a baton. And when the music plays, Dworkin begins. He guides them to actively orchestrate with arms and batons whipping the air, torsos twisting, legs bending and sweat pouring. The exercise is exhilarating; an intellectual process played with a physical presence.
If you prefer to think and interact, you can do so with the performers of Second Circle Improv Players a group which artfully use their bodies to spontaneously portray issues and actions with words and physicality while utilizing their repertoire of improv games. They are a diverse, intergenerational group that explores social issues and breaks down stereotypes as they demonstrate “a unique blend of interactive role-play and improvisational theater techniques”. A particularly physical game, for example, is Machines. When an audience suggests a machine, such as a washing machine, it’s played out on stage. An actor starts with a sound and motion, and other actors progressively join to physically layer themselves coordinating their movements and sounds to create a total machine in motion. It’s mesmerizing. Audience participation is an integral part of the experience to engage the performers to portray topics such as retirement, positive aging, conflict resolution, cultural diversity, communication, and more. In fact, the group encourages members in the audience to join in some games and share ideas.
Creative movement can also be a response to a unique experience. Community Access to the Arts (CATA) is an organization that is dedicated to “nurture and celebrate the creativity of people with disabilities through shared experiences in the visual and performing arts”. Ann Mintz was the Director of the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts when she partnered with CATA to provide a series of workshops for CATA participants that used exhibitions in the museum as the basis for programs. One such event centered around kinetic sculpture by MIT artist-in-residence Arthur Ganson. Their response was unique and extraordinary. Ann says “These are individuals with physical and intellectual challenges and they approach physical movement in a different way. Immediately after viewing the art, they were encouraged to express themselves which resulted in a display of whirling and dipping, moving hands and happy faces. It was so beautiful because it was completely spontaneous and unselfconscious.” They engineered their bodies as moving objects in space and, in effect, looked like components of a kinetic sculpture.
Exercise can be for everyone and it now has an exceptional voice in the arts. Exploring different modalities and creatively translating different experiences to movement is an opportunity filled with physical and cognitive benefits. Your personal world is ripe for interpretative exercise.
It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe.