Rudolph Cirulis
Inclusion of Seniors (and any other age group) Through Dancing

Hello everyone! My name is Rudolph Cirulis. I have 20 years of experience of Latvian folk dances and this year I started my studies in choreography at Music Academy of Latvia.

I have worked with seniors and I have worked with the youngsters of the age of 5. At the moment I’m also dancing in a dance group where the age is between 16 and 30, so I have had the age and experience with many different people.

Everyone can move by rhythm, but where to start?

The main thing in dance is that you have to give the tasks precisely, for example, if a person is starting at a really young age, like the parents are taking their children to dance classes at age 2, 3, 4 or 5. Then, usually, it all starts with music –  just listening to the music, feeling the rhythm, feeling the passion, because once you catch this feeling, everything goes step by step.

First, you have to feel the music, then it’s with really simple steps. We are giving, as teachers, these young children some movements with the palms and feet clapping and going step by step, so they can feel the rhythm. And what’s really interesting – dance is meant for everyone. It doesn’t matter how tall or short, what size you are – everyone can move by rhythm – some better, some not so much, but everyone can do that. So it’s really simple and actually, it produces hormones of happiness. When these tasks are given precisely, children usually know the basics – turn right, turn left, go forward, go back. After a human being is introduced to these basic movements, we are creating pairs. Every person we put together with another person, creating a pair. It is really important to feel the partner through dance. How the partner is dancing, moving. Because when you are dancing with the partner the main thing is that you feel like one. The other one is completing the other one. After all these movements, we are teaching these two people how to move in one breath. And what is really interesting is that there is no competition in the air. We can feel that the one wants to help the other and it’s some kind of synergy working there. They want to help each other, and they are feeling their movement and they are reading their minds – what they will do next, because they know the rules from theory.

Importance of  theory and tasks’ precision

Now we have to work in practice. And that’s what is important in theory – that you give these tasks precisely because every word that is set in these rehearsals, they are actually somehow catching all these phrases and they are keeping them in their mind. And when they are dancing in pairs they are using your sentences and they are moving, so you have to be really precise and the task has to be precise. This is really a great feeling, that we feel in dance classes – when a pair is moving in one breath, that’s something unique. Then you know you did your job good because they understand everything you have said. And after they are already dancing, now you can work together with a dance design or choreography map on the dance floor. Usually, in Latvian folk dance, we have 8 or 12 pairs. So we see what the choreographer wants from that dance, and we engage our work to create forms of movements for it.

The strategy of teaching folk dances are the same for seniors as for children

It’s really interesting because when we are working together with seniors, the strategy that we use while we were working together with youngsters at age 5-6, is completely the same because these two groups of age are similar in emotions – you have to be really slow, precise while giving the goals for a particular move and your explanation has to be done really basic and you have to show first. Because in this dance first, you are talking, then you are showing the moving to others and then you are taking a boy or a girl and showing how it works in a pair.

Everyone can be included through folk dances (regardless of the age, sex, orientation, size….)

So listening, dancing individually, dancing in the pair. That is the Golden Rule of dancing, actually it’s pretty easy for everyone. Why is that? Because there are no rules and it doesn’t matter, how tall or short, or what size you are or what gender or what orientation you are – dancing is for everyone because it’s an expression of happiness and while you’re dancing you’re producing your happiness hormones. And that’s why I think in Latvia many, many people are choosing this activity instead of going to the gym because it’s also the way how you make new friends.

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