One of the greatest challenges most European societies face today, is the growth of the elderly population. Despite the fact that over-65s will take up almost a quarter of the population in less then thirty years’, seniors seem to be excluded rather than included in our modern societies that increasingly focus on youth. With dance, an art form predominantly working with young bodies, we decided to change that with Act Your Age.
Act Your Age was a two year European dance project focussing on the pressing global question of aging. In cooperation with the Centro per la Scena Contemporanea (Italy), Dance House Lemesos (Cyprus) and the Nederlandse Dansdagen (the Netherlands), choreographers tackled the challenging subject of age and aging of the European citizens, and the consequences for artists, dancers and the performing arts.
Act Your Age consisted of artistic research, workshops and expert/community meetings to create an exchange between the European elderly, young dance makers, health care professionals, science, business and a broad audience. By giving the elderly a prominent place, Act Your Age aimed to constructively and innovatively contribute to the discussion about aging and the depiction of the older body.
Three satellite countries, Ireland, Turkey and Finland also engaged in dialogue. This additional dialogue provided points of reference and sharpened the focus of the project because of the different contexts for aging in each of the countries. The first year (May 2012 - May 2013) concentrated on workshops and research and the second year was dedicated to presenting the outcomes of this research. Progress was sharted to the public at the festivals of each partner country. In July at the Operaestate Festival Veneto in Bassano del Grappa (Italy), in September at the Open House Dance and Performance Festival in Lemesos (Cyprus) and in October during the Dutch Dance Festival in Maastricht (the Netherlands).
The project concluded in December 2013 in Maastricht, the Netherlands by the Act Your Age Festival. Performances of existing and new work with older dancers, both professional and amateur where shown and people could attend workshops, debates and exhibitions. Boundaries between different generations and areas of expertise were transcended as people watched and talked about performances together.