I recently had the opportunity to catch a couple of films that were presented as part of the Legacy Film Series Film Festival on Aging, curated by director Sheila Malkind. As a sometime choreographer myself, I was compelled to watch the series of films that were most dance-related: on Sunday the 15th I watched Happy to be So… by Yelena Demikovsky and Ida’s Dance Club by Dalit Kamor.

As we continue to think about designing for our elders, how can we make space for abilities that encourage exuberance while also providing for safety and support? The Brianskys, as well as each person in Ida’s Dance Club are great examples of people who dance in spite of (or because of?) their physical frailties or impediments due to age. What can designers do to encourage each of us to dance about architecture?

Happy To Be So… tracked the inspiring and prolific lives of dancers Mireille Briane and Oleg Brianksy. Having been married for over 50 years, they represent the institution which is the Briansky Ballet Center in Saratoga Springs, New York. Their level of synergy in partnership seems to be key to their success, and there are throngs of talented students on pointe out there to attest to this. This story showed how an artistic collaboration can take many forms, but need not loose any potency over time, as the Brianskys seem to have simply honed their expertise in teaching over the years of working together.

Ida’s Dance Club was a slightly less overtly uplifting story, but was nonetheless beautiful to watch. This was a film following the goings on of a couples dance competition in an aging care multi-family housing complex in Isreal. The stories of the individual participants were at once funny, poignant and heart-rending. Dance represented a way that these folks could get together and forget their personal woes, past and present, and express themselves with an exuberance that any person could strive for, at any stage of life.


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