Liz Cornish reports from Momentum Dance, WA’s new dance ensemble for the over 45s.
Many of us dance in our youth. Even those who go on to be professional dancers usually retire around 35.
What if you found a way to keep dancing after the age of 30? 40? 60? 100?
What if you found a place to keep working your body, keep stretching your imagination, keep that frisson of joy in your life?
Momentum Dance provides an opportunity for mature dancers to continue to grow and develop their movement and performance skills.
Why should kids have all the fun?
Momentum Dance is a group of people over 45 years old, who have danced in their past and want to dance in their future. They meet once a week for three hours of rehearsal. Members contribute financially to commission choreographers to create new dance works on older bodies. When the time is right, these new dance works are performed for the public.
Older bodies are interesting because of the history they contain. There are muscle memories of movement patterns learned decades ago and adjustments made to accommodate soft tissue and skeletal injuries acquired over time. In every movement we make there are tell tale signs of lives lived – of children carried, broken bones healed, new joints acquired, floors sanded, gardens dug, decades of sitting at a desk. At Momentum we try to remember that movement approached with integrity is beautiful, even if the feet are arthritic and won't point like they used to.
Momentum is a celebration of bodies that continue to move through time.
As a part time ensemble, Momentum faces challenges. Three hours is not very long, and meeting only once a week makes it hard to generate continuity. Mentally it is difficult to remember movement when there are six days to forget it. Physically, there is a constant battle to find the balance between enthusiasm and injury, to build up stamina and strength without breaking.
Emotionally, huge things happen in people's lives away from the studio – stress at work, marriages of children, births of grandchildren, graduations, engagements, deaths of parents....all these occasions can leave little space in the head for retention of movement sequences.
But the dancers of Momentum are finding a way to make it work. This year we have extended out creative process time from 12 weeks to 16. We have added a rehearsal director to our ranks to help keep us true to the choreography. We have entered the 21st century and joined a secret Facebook group, where videos taken in rehearsal can be watched to jog our memories. We are constantly evolving to find the best way to make it sustainable because we all just want to keep dancing.
Pictured top is Liz Cornish. Photo: Damian Doyle.