Dancing Helps Rejuvenate Residents - Mind, Body and Spirit

Published: Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Cassidy Negri has passion – passion for life, passion for dance, and a passion to help seniors and people with disabilities live their Abundant Life®.

A Zelienople native, Negri grew up around the arts and has spent several years as a dancer. She is currently a junior at Slippery Rock University, majoring in adaptive physical therapy and dance, and spent part of her summer sharing her talents with the residents at Passavant Community.

“Physical activity is important for every population,” Negri said, no matter what form it comes in.

“Dance is something that everyone can do, even if you have physical limitations,” she explained. Some exercises and sports, she said, require a certain degree of skill to be successful. But dance is open to interpretation.

“It’s about the residents exposing their emotions through movements that feel good to them. When you are part of a dance, you just feel better,” she said.

During the 30-minute dance sessions, Negri incorporates simple arm and leg movements to music that is familiar to the residents. Some sing, others just do movements and others just sit and enjoy the socialization aspect of being together with their neighbors.

Regardless, Negri said, all of the residents can benefit from the sessions in some way.

Negri has engaged some of the residents in an adaptive form of dance called Brain Dance – a series of eight fundamental movement patterns that babies discover in their first years – which have been proven to increase focus, balance, body awareness and coordination.

“Brain Dance wakes up the whole body,” she said, and lets seniors experience movement in a way that relaxes them and can reduce stress.

Negri said that her experience at Passavant has been rewarding for her on so many levels.

“Actually,” she said, “the residents have more to teach me than I can teach them. They aren’t afraid to act silly and they don’t feel like they are being judged. They just go with the flow and dance in whatever way expresses what they are feeling that day.”

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