Theatre arts workshop for seniors generates fun and laughter
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Theatre arts workshop for seniors generates fun and laughter

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Sometimes the world of make-believe can bring-out the best in a person. Just ask Dalia Gesser, a theatre arts teacher from Battersea.

“I used to perform my own clown, mime and mask-shows and toured all over Ontario for 20 years, performing for schools, libraries, festivals and theatre series,” says the petite 58-year-old with a smile.

“In the late 1990s, I began to shift my theatre arts focus to arts/education. I received a bunch of Artists in Education grants from the Ontario Arts Council which allowed me to bring theatre arts workshops to many elementary schools in the Greater Kingston region. In the last two years, I've been focusing on programs for seniors.”

Majoring in dance while attending university in New York State (then later attending the Canadian Mime School in Niagara-on-the-Lake), Dalia is bringing theatre arts to Gananoque. She's doing this through songs, theatre games, mime, movement, original use of props and story sharing.


“In all classes and workshops, students are challenged to use their bodies, minds and imaginations in a fun and positive setting, building self-confidence and body awareness,” says Dalia. “Music is an integral part of every workshop experience, with an eclectic selection to enhance different exercises, set moods and inspire ideas.”

Dalia wants the community to know the benefits of theatre arts.

She recently received her second grant from the Ontario Arts Council which will fund two senior programs in two different locations. This grant program is called Theatre Arts for the Young at Heart.

Earlier this year, she held a seniors’ group at the Hildegarde Centre, a day program located in Providence Manor in Kingston. From September to mid-December, she is working with seniors at Carveth Care Centre.

“Both programs involve theatre games, mime & movement, songs as well as story sharing culminating in an informal presentation by the participants in both centres,” Dalia confirms.

Creative and fun, Dalia has spent years working with youth. Now, she’s enjoying her time working with seniors.

“I’ve been working with kids for so many years, it’s nice to have a change and work with seniors,” she explains patiently.

“The seniors who take part in my workshops tend to have a great sense of humour, they enjoy participating and love to share their life stories. It's heartwarming to watch them interact with their peers. A few things I like to do with them is to use everyday objects in original ways, act out various activities in mime and listen to their stories. Everyone has endless stories. It’s nice to help seniors remember their stories and give them an opportunity to share their past.”

Dalia sees the arts as a component of a healthy society.

“My theatre arts programs help with cognitive ability and memory loss,” she notes. “Exercises help people physically, psychologically and emotionally. It’s great stimulation for any age, but especially for seniors.”

Speaking on behalf of Carveth Care Centre, Activity Director Shannon Buell is looking forward to the workshop for seniors.

“We know this is going to spark interesting conversations by the residents about their past,” she says wisely. “The classes will be well-received by the residents and appreciated by their families who will enjoy a presentation at the end. It’s great to see how much is accomplished by theatre arts.”

The theatre arts class at Carveth Care Centre started on Sept. 5 and is held in the Sunshine Sensory Room. The classes will be held most Tuesdays at 2 pm, except for the last Tuesday of the month: Sept 5, 12, 19, Oct 3, 10, 17, 24, Nov 7, 14, 21, Dec 5, 6, 12 and 13. The class will end with a performance at Family Christmas Day on Dec. 16. If you are interested in attending this class, please sign-up with Activation. To learn more about theatre arts, please contact Dalia Gesser at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit her website at compacttheatre.jimdo.com


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