This October AFTA welcomed a visitor from across the pond. Rachel Rogers, Project Development Manager at Merseyside Dance Initiative in Liverpool UK, was visiting the United States via a travel fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and the Baring Foundation.  Her aim was to research performance and community arts practice for, by and with older people. We were thrilled she chose to include a visit with AFTA’s senior dance improvisation troupe Quicksilver in her busy schedule.


When Rachel arrived at our rehearsal in brightly-colored, movement-friendly clothing, we knew she would fit in perfectly!  Rachel gamely took part in Quicksilver’s rehearsal, from warm-up stretches to improvised dance. Quicksilver dancers know how to use space, and in this session the wall was their prop.


After the session, Rachel sat down with us to share more about her work with older adults in the UK. Merseyside Dance Initiative has delivered a program of dance activity for older people since 1999 including regular classes, themed projects, intergenerational and culturally specific projects, special commissions and performance work.  We were particularly interested in Merseyside’s Dance for Parkinson’s program, which included family and caregivers of Parkinson’s patients. Rachel expressed appreciation for Quicksilver’s outreach programs, in which our active seniors engage their more frail peers at AFTA partner centers in group dance.   She also commended Quicksilver for their spontaneity and use of “appreciative dialogue” – when members perform for one another and the observers respond with critical feedback.



Rachel has returned to the UK, but she reflected on her time with Quicksilver in a recent email:

“I found the energy and enthusiasm in your group very exciting as with the level of artistic and  intellectual discussion about the art form.  I loved the fact that it’s not a novelty for these women to want to be involved in dance at this level and that there is responsibility on them to deliver as well as be fed.”

You can read more about Rachel’s adventures exploring creative aging in the United States on her blog.

Don’t miss the story of her visit with Quicksilver!