Creative Age Festival – Musical Exploration

It’s not very often that people get the chance to play handbells or a Djembe (African drum), but at this year’s Creative Age Festival you can try both instruments!

The Handbells Workshop with Wendy Hoskin will cover basic ringing techniques, how to read handbell music, and how to participate in an ensemble. No experience is needed because you’ll be doubling a position with an intermediate ringer as you learn to ring beginning music. Thursday, June 4 from 2 – 4 p.m. Cost: $15.

Handbells at NESA

At the African Drumming Workshop Deborah Bortscher will teach techniques to achieve the three basic sounds on a Djembe – bass, tone and slap. Using your new-found skills you’ll learn to play a drum song from West Africa. Drums are provided or you can bring your own. Saturday, June 6 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Cost: $15.

Register by calling NESA at 780-496-6969. Both workshops are held at North Edmonton Seniors Association (7524 139 Avenue).

Creative Age Festival – Workshops

Not sure if taking a workshop is right for you? Hear what past participants have said.

Never had so much fun singing. (Rock n’ Roll)

Inclusive, safe, explorative! (Acting Shakespeare)

Found parts of my body still work! (Creative Movement)

Photo by Ryan Parker (PK Photography)
Photo by Ryan Parker (PK Photography)

I found that I could participate even with a cane. (Creative Movement)

This was an introduction to new field. The facilitator made it easy to undertake and to achieve success! (Shadow Puppet)

Confidence and wonderment at the scope of Shakespeare in today’s 21st century realities. (Acting Shakespeare)

Photo by Ryan Parker (PK Photography)
Photo by Ryan Parker (PK Photography)

Energizing when I needed it. Facilitators had great rapport with the participants. (Rock n’ Roll)

I really love to do the movements. It’s an exercise that is good for your body, mind, heart and soul. (Creative Movement)

I love the theatre, and talking part in it. Creating a story and acting – it’s a good experience! (Intro to Acting)

Shakespeare is not as intimidating as I expected. (Acting Shakespeare)

Photo by Zvonimir Rac
Photo by Zvonimir Rac

Be sure to register for some workshops at the Creative Age Festival June 4-6.

We have a great variety of arts workshops lined-up including: African Drumming, Watercolour Painting, Acting Shakespeare, Pottery, Performance Storytelling, Handbells, Dance and Physical Storytelling, Musical Improv, and Memoir Writing.

To register call NESA at 780-496-6969.

Arts Extravaganza – Creative Age Festival 2015

CAF Poster

Join us on June 5 for an evening of performances by talented seniors and intergenerational artists. Featuring the Grove City Barbershop Harmony Chorus, Melle Huizinga, the GeriActors & Friends, and more!

The show will take place at the Timms Centre for the Arts (87 Ave & 112 Street). There will be a reception in the lobby to follow and a cash bar available before and after the show.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchase through the North Edmonton Seniors Association (780-496-6969). Tickets will also be available at the door.

Grove City Barbershop Harmony Chorus

“How can you be unhappy when you are singing?”

The Grove City Barbershop Harmony Chorus is made up of around 30 men from all over the Greater Edmonton area. Some drive over an hour to each of their Wednesday night practices.

Coming from all walks of life and virtually all ages, they are all amateur singers who enjoy singing together and sharing their talents. Their chorus has been active for over 20 years and is the only chorus north of Red Deer. They are part of the 23,000 man, worldwide Barbershop Harmony Society.

In addition to their annual shows they also do many singouts around the Edmonton area, including hospitals, nursing homes, and fundraisers for various charities. They compete at least once a year with other barbershop choruses in Alberta.

The Grove City Barbershop Harmony Chorus performs at the Creative Age Festival 2012
The Grove City Barbershop Harmony Chorus performs at the Creative Age Festival 2012

Melle Huizinga

Melle Huizinga immigrated with his family to Canada in 1948. As a child and as a teenager he was determined to be a farmer but fate intervened and he taught school for 40 years instead.

He learned to love teaching and he keeps his hand in by mentoring student teachers at the King’s University and by teaching a creative writing class through the Minerva Institute for senior studies at MacEwan University.

Melle Huizinga loves to tell stories. The story he tells today, from his first year of teaching in a small Ontario town, is titled “Blundering into Small Town Power Structures”.

Melle Huizinga performing at the Edmonton Poetry Festival 2008
Melle Huizinga performing at the Edmonton Poetry Festival 2008

GeriActors & Friends

“It’s like a tapestry, we’re always making collages of our ideas and stories; somehow we are all one.”

The GeriActors & Friends is an intergenerational theatre company based in Edmonton. The GeriActors are seniors from SAGE and the “Friends” are students and alumni from the University of Alberta. They range in age from early twenties to late eighties. The intergenerational nature of the company generates new energy, brilliant ideas, a great sense of fun, and lasting friendships.

They write plays based on stories and issues from their lives. They perform to audiences of seniors and their families, students, health professionals and the general public and they are currently enjoying a very successful Spring Tour of their newest play Washing. Be sure to join them at the Arts Extravaganza to see their play We Decide When inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear.

The GeriActors & Friends perform Felixstowe at the Creative Age Festival 2012.
The GeriActors & Friends perform Felixstowe at the Creative Age Festival 2012.

Creative Age Festival 2015

We are busy with preparations for the Creative Age Festival happening June 4-6 at the North Edmonton Seniors Association and Timms Centre for the Arts.

The Creative Age Festival features performances by seniors and intergenerational artists as well as workshops in a variety of art forms. This year’s festival will have 8 workshops to choose from in music, theatre, creative writing, dance and much more.

Here is a sneak peak at one of the workshops being offered June 4-6…

GeriActors, CRIPSiE, and Dance Exchange March 2015
GeriActors, CRIPSiE, and Dance Exchange March 2015

Dance and Physical Storytelling with Shula Strassfeld and Amber Borotsik

Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6

10:00am – 12:00pm

 Get ready to move with Amber and Shula! Discover new ways of expressing yourself, countless ways to move, and share your story in a unique and exciting way.

Amber Borotsik –

Amber works as both a theatre and contemporary dance artist in a bunch of different ways: as Co- Founder, former Festival Director and now Outreach Coordinator of Azimuth Theatres’ Expanse Movement Arts Festival; as Co-Artistic Director of a Sterling Award winning company that she keeps re-naming (Dammitdance Theatre, Windrow Performance…what will it be next?); as Facilitator of the Mile Zero/Nina Haggerty Dance Collective and as a freelance actor, dancer and choreographer. Amber has performed across Canada and the United States with Theatre Network, Ghost River Theatre, Northern Light Theatre, The Freewill Shakespeare Festival, The High Performance Rodeo, Lunchbox Theatre, The Maggie Tree, Azimuth Theatre, Wishbone Theatre, Workshop West Theatre, Citadel Theatre, Scarface, Red to Blue Performance, Nakai Theatre, Shadow Theatre, Artistic Fraud Theatre of Newfoundland, The Edmonton Street Performers Festival, Tania Alvarado, Mile Zero Dance, Eko Dance, Sheldon Casavant and Firefly Theatre among others.

Amber Borotsik working with Creative Movement participants Creative Age Festival 2014
Amber Borotsik working with Creative Movement participants Creative Age Festival 2014

Shula Strassfeld –

Shula Strassfeld began dancing “too late” and has been dancing ever since. After training in NY with members of the Jose Limon Company and Collete Barry and Susan Klein, Shula lived in the US, Israel and Canada. She has danced with choreographers Susan Rose, Joy Kellman, Flora Cushman, Mirali Sharon, Jan Van Dyke and Sandra Neels. Shula has an MA in Dance Education from Columbia University and has taught at Trinity College (Hartford CT), Rubin Academy of the Hebrew University, York University and at the professional schools of Canadian Ballet Theatre, Ballet Creole and the Kibbutz Dance Company. She joined Dance Exchange in 2007, Dance Exchange stretches the range of contemporary dance through explosive dancing, personal stories, humor, and a company of performers whose ages span six decades. Currently, she lives in Toronto.

Shula Strassfeld dancing with GeriActors and CRIPSiE  in
Shula Strassfeld dancing with GeriActors and CRIPSiE in “The Seeing Heart” March 2015

Both Amber and Shula have worked with the GeriActors on several occasions and we look forward to having them join us for the Creative Age Festival this year.

For more information on the festival visit:

To register for workshops call: 780-496-6969

See you at the festival!!!

(Photos by: Mat Simpson, Ryan Parker, and GeriActors)

Tools for Health: An Experience by Rhiannon Perley-Waugh

Editor’s Note: During Dance Exchange’s time here in March, they facilitated a Tools for Health Training workshop over a weekend. Here is a post by a familiar face of the GeriActors and Friends Rhiannon Perley-Waugh.

     When I received the email newsletter from the GeriActors about the Tools for Health Training workshop I was incredibly excited. Since graduation, I have been interested in pursuing a masters in Drama Therapy at Concordia University in Montreal. As such, when I saw that the workshop would be providing information on how the arts can be used as therapy, I knew it was something I needed to take. Before the workshop I knew very little about Dance Exchange – as a company – and thus went into the workshop naive as regards the kind of work they do. I was certainly expecting to expand my knowledge of the art therapyfield, but beyond that wasnt quite sure what to expect. Would we be sitting, reading power-points all weekend? Would we be watching health education videos? Who knew! Well. Little did I know I was in for an absolute intellectual and personal growth adventure! There were no powerpoints. No videos. Just pure movement and interpersonal engagement.

     The workshop with Dance Exchange was interactive and engaging from 9:30 in the morning March 14 to the drive home from St. Albert on Sunday March 15. The company took the workshop participants through many exercises such as mirroring – where you are in pairs and one person leads movement and the other must mirror that leader. Perhaps one my favourite moments on the Saturday portion of the workshop was carrying out the build a phraseexercise. We started with a simple prompt – These hands have held, wrote a response to that prompt, then shared with the group what we had written. It was through this sharing the building began. We learned that there were 4 ways to pick out/develop movement from spoken words/text: images, spontaneous gestures, action words and clear details. Thus, we created movement gestures out of moments where these 4 things were presented in our sharing of These hands have held. Then as smaller groups, we continued the exercise and created a dance piece. The next step of this exercise was to apply nuance to the initial creations – building on moments of connection, thinking about spatial formation, levels, tempo or individual vs. group moments. The end performances be each group were truly magical. They were moving stories, being told from the heart of each individual and then, simultaneously, the group.

     That afternoon, we broke down the format of the workshop as it had happened in the morning – which I found extremely helpful in grounding all the work we had done and seeing how it could be carried forward in a therapeutic/clinical context.

     My perhaps favourite part of this workshop was our Sunday visit to the River Ridge senior home in St. Albert. It was our chance to apply what wed learned in real-time and apply to a context of older adults who had varying physical and mental from ourselves. From the moment we arrived there was excitement in the air on both accounts, the seniors and us workshop-folk alike. Seeing how the workshop engaged with seniors and brought smiles to their faces was the most heartwarming experience I had had in quite a long time. I worked one on one with some seniors and at the end was the leader of a small group- building a dance, just as we had in the previous days workshop. We laughed, we played, we spoke, we moved – we created a dance. By the end of our experience there, my heart was bursting with delight and I was touched beyond words at the healingthat had happened, not just with the seniors, but to myself.

     Needless to say, this experience inspired me incredibly. I have therefore decided to begin applying for positions as recreational or life enrichment staff in seniors homes around the city. I would love to bring my knowledge from this workshop (both the exercises themselves, and also how to build an effective workshop) as well as my background in theatre into more lives and start to gain more experience working in geriatric contexts and/or homes. Furthermore, my experience in this workshop has increased my desire to fulfill the long-term goal I had at the onset of pursuing Drama Therapy in Montreal. I have nothing but thanks for Dance Exchange, and the GeriActors for providing me with this experience!