Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation

Staying active is a key to staying healthy as people age – and few things get people out of their seats and get their bodies in motion like the opportunity to dance. The Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation – the charitable arm of one of the world’s premier modern dance companies – has created the Ailey Dance for Active Aging program to help improve the fitness and health of seniors.

In 2022, HFNJ provided a $50,000 grant to bring AileyDance for Active Aging to Newark. The program was offered at Bethany Senior Center, Nellie Greer Senior Center, Boylan Senior Center, Vince Lombardi Senior Center, Court Street and Nevada Street Apartments.

The project took place through three cycles – fall, winter, and summer. The Fall cycle was completed at all five of these sites, engaging 54 participants, and winter and summer cycles were completed at three sites (31 and 34 participants each, respectively). Attendance was regular throughout all cycles, with more than 84% of participants actively in regular attendance. Attendees reported an array of health and social benefits, including increased mobility and improvements in creative expression.

Each cycle ended with the class giving a “culminating performance” in front of their peers at the Senior Center. Ailey staff learned that these became great recruitment events for the next cycle, as many in the audience asked how they can get involved in the program after watching their peers strut their newfound dance moves.