SU-CASA Conversation with artists Jing Dong, Lisa Spraragen & Natasha Tiniacos

In this conversation moderated by LMCC Director of Grants & Services, Ana Fiore, LMCC's SU-CASA artists Jing Dong, Lisa Spraragen & Natasha Tiniacos talk about their experiences working with older adults and how they stay connected to seniors during the quarantine. This conversation was recorded on May 6, 2020.


Ana Fiore  0:25

Hi everyone. My name is Ana Fiore. I am the Director of Grants and Services at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, LMCC. I'm really excited to have some time today to speak with three of our 2020 SU-CASA artists-in-residence. The SU-CASA program is a partnership between the New York City Council, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Department for the Aging along with the five local borough arts councils here in New York. It places wonderful artists at senior centers across the five boroughs to engage in participatory art making programs, explorations of different artistic practices. And usually this happens over a six month period. But obviously, we are all living in a very different reality at the moment. So I look forward to hearing about how all of you are doing and more about each of your practices and the programs you had designed for SU-CASA. So to get started, I'd love to just have each of you introduce yourselves. So, Natasha, you can kick us off.


Natasha Tiniacos  1:45

Thank you, Ana, for the introduction and also for giving us the opportunity to share about our creative process and our program. I am happy to be a part of SU-CASA 2020. I teach poetry in ARC Fort Washington [Senior Center] in the community of Washington Heights. My workshop is called, “Canción Madre” in Español, “Mother Song” is the translation, which is a Spanish poetry workshop for senior participants.


Ana Fiore  2:20

Great, thank you. And Jing, if you could introduce yourself.


Jing Dong  2:25

Hi everyone. My name is Jing Dong. And I'm a SU-CASA teaching artist working with Hamilton Madison Knickerbocker NORC Senior Services and a theatrical Storytelling Workshop. And I'm very happy to be here today to connect with you all and to talk about how we're doing and about our practices.


Ana Fiore 2:49

Thank you. And Lisa.


Lisa Spraragen  2:53

Hello, Buenos días. It's nice to see everyone, I hope everybody's feeling well today. And nice to get back together. We have a creative way of bridging this gap thanks to SU-CASA. My workshop is the Spanish guitar workshop, which was located at the COTHOA Center in Washington Heights. My students are learning the basics of guitar, or returning to the guitar after trying it maybe a while back and getting some new instruction.


Ana Fiore  3:28

That's great. LMCC is supporting, or was supporting, 20 SU-CASA residences this year across different artistic disciplines. And I think this is a lovely little sampling of what some of those programs looked like. And I know each of you, some of you, are participating in SU-CASA for the second time where you've had experience with program before. And for some of you, this was your first year participating in the program. So maybe you could share a little bit more about how you had started working at the senior centers and what you were starting to kind of explore with the older adults there before we all went into our PAUSE phase here in New York.


Natasha Tiniacos 4:19

I will start. So I'm lucky and fortunate to have this opportunity for a second time and I'm working still in the community of Washington Heights. So my approach was like, “What should I do? What can I do to inspire my participants to join me?” So I read poetry during lunch, and I was going through the tables, talking to them, showing that it's not just, you know, that poetry can be intimidating for many, but it’s a workshop of self-expression. And I was reading poetry into the microphone during lunch for my first experience last year, and that worked, because I started with a love poem. Very simple, very short, like this is what we can just read and discuss and enjoy, and try to write as well. But my approach was, you already are in a stage of wisdom. The great and magnificent thing about working with senior participants is that they are already there. And they have, we have, the capacity to show them, or to improve their quality of lives with these workshops. And I have great experiences. Before our PAUSE, I was working with a small group, but very committed. They always in their life had these interests and attraction to poetry, but felt intimidated. And my goal was to make them feel comfortable in the room which is the safe room. I always said that even the short readings as well and discussions have life as a source of inspiration for these craft.


Ana Fiore  6:19

Yeah, that’s great. One of my favorite things about the SU-CASA program is and you know, Creative Aging work in general, is that it really is a collaboration between the artists and the participants. Because, yeah, the older adult participants bring so much lived experience and particular interest and curiosity to each program. So it's always really special to see how things adapt and unfold in collaboration with them. And Jing, how had your program begun?


Jing Dong  6:56

So before this COVID-19 situation had started, I was basically still in a recruitment phase. Although I started my workshops pretty early like, it was already for three or four weeks, I think. But I was still trying to recruit people from visiting their lunch events, visiting their Valentine's Day events, and also talking to people who played cards there everyday and talking to people who play “majiang", because there is a Chinese speaking community and Italian speaking community there. So I was trying to approach both groups, make friends with them, and see what they need. I also went to their Culture Club to get to know them and see if anyone is interested in this workshop. Because to them, it's relatively new because I was trying to combine theater techniques with storytelling, and I also tried some activities like creating visual arts together and incorporating it into storytelling and also bringing in our personal memories into storytelling. And by the time we stopped the workshop, I had a pretty small, compact group with like three or four people, and sometimes one or two people, but we really enjoyed the workshop and they liked it and I was expecting more people to join [before] this thing suddenly happened.


Ana Fiore  8:45

Yeah, sometimes the introductions and getting to know the senior center is such a big part of the SU-CASA program, and kind of understanding what the energy and life and dynamics of each senior center were, so I think all of you are kind of on the upswing when we unfortunately had to pause the programs. Lisa, how had your program began?


Lisa Spraragen  9:15

Hi, yes, um, I can relate to the going around the tables and you know, trying to play something to get their attention, going around the room. But in the COTHOA Center, which is in Washington Heights, once they saw the Spanish guitar, they didn't need too much of an explanation as to what it was about, but I did emphasize that we'll be learning the instrument. However, if you want to come as a singer, or someone who just always liked the guitar, or maybe dance, play a little later on in the workshop, percussion along, you know, also come by. So it was building after a couple of weeks of, you know, promotion then a third time, we just started the workshop. And [we] really got a dedicated core group. There was some variety from week to week, if one or two people couldn't make it, or there could be a few new people, but I also set it up in such a way that it seemed the regulars also came in earlier and they would have their regular seat at the table. And really tuning the instrument is a tremendous challenge. So by the time everyone's in tune, if a couple people came in, and they were more like observers, there was room to sit around and join in. And, you know, it was a fantastic group. It was really building momentum in terms of getting [people]. It had already met maybe five or six weeks before we had to stop. So they were making progress to the point where now we had more lesson plans, we could, you know, go around and I was working with my partner also and starting to split up the group so we could work with the group and then take one person for a private lesson off to the side, which was part of the proposal because it can be a group activity, but you need that one on one. So that's why, you know, I do think I always stressed throughout that people have to work at home. Some of them are borrowing the instruments during class, but we had arranged through the materials, which was incredible, to buy some guitars and had the students sign them out, promising to come to class every week in case they couldn't make a class. Let us know if you they had the guitar. And they were just so responsible. And one fellow actually returned his guitar. He said, You know what, I found a guitar on my own. So I'm bringing this one back for other people to use and things like that. It was all, of you know, one nice thing after another, so I'm super excited to, you know, let everyone know from my workshop and beyond that, you know, we care and we plan to get back together someday, but in the meantime, we're going to do this online.


Ana Fiore  12:12

Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think that, as we all, you know, started to stay at home. And of course, the senior centers had to close and, you know, are focusing mostly on meal distribution right now. I think each of you have found a different way to adapt in this moment. And Lisa, I know you already produced an instructional video that folks can do at home and that we've luckily been able to put on our website, but yeah, Lisa maybe you can tell us a little bit more about what your approach to your practice and being able to teach or not in this moment has been?


Lisa Spraragen  12:57

Right. So I thought about it quite a bit, and I have to say this particular group is really, really beginners, so that's what it boils down to. So with beginners, every time you have to start fresh and even as a person has been playing guitar their whole life, every day you pick up the instrument, you have to start fresh, and you'll build on what you did if you continue practicing on a regular basis. But if you missed a day or two, you really set yourself back so much. And that applies to a beginner or professional, it really doesn't matter. It’s just that you there's a lot of repetition and it's always going back. So I was trying to instill my students that it's okay and, you know, with adult beginners, you there's always you know, a little people that don't want to feel that they don't know something, but I did find in my group, you know, they had a tremendous attention span, and they were working very hard. For some reason, it happened to be mostly male in the group, but it was all business about actually getting the notes and focusing on that. So when I said, “Well, how can I make a video for them?” I thought, well, let's go with what I really expected them to have learned up to that point and a little beyond. So it would have stretched into the next couple of weeks of what they were doing. And of course, what's missing in the video is the singing and the dancing, but the guitar-playing part, which is at the core of what I trying to get them to learn, is what I want to focus on in the in the instructional video, so that they could review it if they want to do it a couple times a week... Go back to it. Yeah, like a live, you know, a live lesson.


Ana Fiore  14:45

Yeah, and to be able to continue that practice during this time.


Lisa Spraragen 14:51

Right. I mean, when the idea of staying at home and practicing to a musician, that's what we're supposed to do. So that's the only one good thing you can say about being on the lockdown. We're supposed to be home practicing our instrument. So it has, most musicians are taking advantage of that extra time to work on things that they normally don't have time to work on in their music. So that's been interesting communicating with other musicians and people who travel normally don't have time to get in touch. You hear from them now. So there are a couple of good points.


Ana Fiore  15:30

Yeah. And Jing, have you been able to stay in touch with your participants at all? Or how have you kind of been thinking about adapting your teaching practice now?


Jing Dong  15:40

Yeah. So at the beginning, I thought about like if we could move this practice online, but most of my seniors are in their 80s and 90s. They don't use smartphones. So it was hard to do that. So I tried to be in contact with them by calling them and talking to them. But it's hard to imagine doing our theater workshop online, because we need the level of intimacy with each other, the trust and the access to materials to make things, to use objects. So, but I, I tried to like talk to them and make sure they're okay and see what their needs are and see if I could help. So I sent some masks to one senior so that she could go out and get mail and have to take a walk. And besides that, in terms of my personal teaching, because I'm also working on an ensemble-based original theater piece, so I was lucky with that group, because it's an intergenerational group. So I was able to conduct online workshops. So it was really fun and challenging, because I have to rethink a lot of activities, and finding new forms for them to make them effective online and enjoyable. So in that group, I also have a senior member. So that was much easier because she was with us when we were doing the in-person workshops. So every time after a workshop, I would make a phone call to her and tell her what happened during the workshop, and what other numbers have created. And that also was inspiring to her. She could feel like she's still in the group with us. And she, every time she creates something and tell it to me, and I can share with other members. So in that way, I stay connected with that senior member.


Ana Fiore  17:48

That's incredible. Natasha has also been trying to use the phone to connect to your older adult participants. Can you tell us a little bit about how that's been going for you?


Natasha Tiniacos  18:02

Absolutely. My participants are in the same age at 80 and 90. So I asked them [but] they don't feel comfortable using technology. Even though my senior center I worked with in 2019 they're teaching via Zoom. But I decided, I think this moment calls for poetry. This, I will never desire these to be the moment in which people discover poetry, or they practice their imagination, but it has been a source of calm. So I decided, you know, let's be very basic and very simple, to touch base [using] phone calls. So I’m redesigning my program to be -- my friend gave me this idea – a Hotline of Poetry. I select readings, poems that can bring joy, and an exercise to be present with a lot of images and reflection. I have been practicing these with one participant, it’s like my test. We had this call with these readings. I read poetry to her, and she sent me, with the situation that we're facing, her poetry is shorter and more precise, and is part of how we are trying to understand. We have no precedent of what we're living. She has neighbors facing the sickness, and she's surrounded by the risk of condition. So poetry’s refreshing for her life, the sound of poetry. She writes in English, though, we have conversations in both languages. So as an artist, I have been sending her my chart my first baby steps in English poetry. And as you were saying is then a collaboration. It’s amazing when you wake up and you see that she sent me an email, because she wants to continue. She took some weeks though, to adjust, to all this information. But then the voice is back. And I hope then to redesign this program with a Hotline for Poetry and some short videos with assignments and instructions. And then we have to workshop individually by the phone because he said technology they feel more most comfortable with, and I think is very romantic as well.


Lisa Spraragen  20:54

Hi, I just wanted to say that I'm incredibly impressed with that idea of the poetry hotline, that's, that's wonderful. And also, I'm working on a newsletter and assignments to actually mail to my participants and they're coordinating that to, you know, let them know if it's okay to mail them something in that way they have their homework, but also know that surprise of getting a physical something in the mail for those who, you know, have a little trouble getting online or just as a, you know, as a reinforcement to the online lesson but um, poetry hotline that's beautiful. And, and in music also you feel that it's helping the people to filter out the bad things and, you know, look into spiritual of what's really important to you, and your companion for your life of music. So that's what we are trying to do there across the arts.


Ana Fiore  22:00

Yeah, it always feels like a privilege to be in a position where I help to support and facilitate the amazing work that all of you do. But it's been incredibly inspiring and heartening during this time to see the way that all of you have adapted and reinvented and focused on this connection and bringing opportunities for processing and bringing spaces of joy and supporting well-being.


I wanted to hear more about I know obviously, you each are wonderfully dedicated to the SU-CASA programs that you were carrying out, but I know you all also have other projects and practices you're working on and are a part of different artistic communities and networks and as about how you're staying connected to those networks, the ways in which you're kind of processing this together, and how this moment has affected your other work as well. Jing, you already started to talk about one of your projects, maybe you can share a little bit more about that.


Jing Dong  23:22

Sure. I think as at this particular time, so continuing the workshops online doesn't only move forward my project, but also is a way for us to stay connected and to support each other. So people love to come back to the online workshop. So after we finished our original ensemble workshops, we started to design a kind of workshop that is more open, so that we could invite people’s friends to come and join us and share their artistry and their thinking, and also share our practices with us. Like we invite musicians and poets, and also theatre makers for workshops. And that's one way we want to contribute to the art community. And also, for myself, it's a very good time to do some writing, because I'm creating original theater pieces. And it's very important to have time to think about how I turn the research and the materials into a performance. And a challenge I have is that now I have to rethink everything. Because all those research and workshops that I did, I did them with the imagination of an in-person performance, like everyone in the same space. And right now, I need to think about new ways to do it online. Because I don't think theaters will open very soon. And so I'm like looking at digital art and online performance for inspiration. And I'm also constantly communicating with other artist friends. So to make weekly phone calls or online exchanges, so that we can discuss and inspire each other and see what we can do with this new form of theater, to both keep its theatricality and in level two intimacy with people, and also make it accessible to more people.


Ana Fiore  25:46

I know it's hard to think about when we'll be able to be in a space like a theater together again. But yeah, that's exciting to think about the ways in which you're continuing to do that work online. Is there a particular project that you were hoping to present later this year that you're now re-envisioning? For the online space?


Jing Dong  26:12

Yeah, so that project, it doesn't have a title yet. But a working title is “The Art of Losing.” It's a project created by immigrant ensemble members. So we all consider ourselves as artists, and we're creating a piece together. So right now, it's my job and also my working partners’ job to process all the things everyone have created and see how to make an online form of the performance. And we're hoping to have a Zoom performance, not too far in the future. So we're working on it.


Ana Fiore  26:59

I look forward to seeing that.


Jing Dong  27:04

It’s also a project supported by LMCC.


Ana Fiore  27:10

And Natasha, how has your practice been going at this time? Have you extended the Hotline to other artists in your network or folks that you know?


Natasha Tiniacos  27:26

I did send via social network, Twitter, inspired by my work with LMCC. I am from Venezuela regionally, but I have political asylum to live in the United States. So if they knew anyone in the senior stage of life,  who will nurture from a poem, that I will read them over the phone, and I got many. There are passages from people. “Can you call her?” “She will love to hear a poem.” Just to find on, to receive beauty through the use of words. For me, my very own practice has been very challenging. Because I'm trying to organize and change to the metaphysical realm. My classes have taken all my energy. I think poetry nurtures a lot of a lot of the process of retrospective, but right now, I'm annotating. I also had a temporary disability and I'm very, I'm very interested in exploring that in my writing, so am I annotating how my body feels, taking in consideration, that this is also a moment that we live day-by-day. We have not a day— “Are we are going out this day in June?” We don't know yet. So I make them an emphasis of that. Surround yourself by beauty today, do something you love. And so, I’m annotating that, it’s going to be a lyrical essay. And what I'm doing thanks to my students of SU-CASA program, is trying to experiment with the music of the English language, because all my work is in Spanish and I collaborate with translators. And this week, I received a poem of mine in Greek, and I spent the whole day just looking at it. I don't speak Greek, but I think wow, what about that reach now, that use of words are able to be perceived by so many people. So I'm very interested in ready signing. My program is taking all my energy as well. Because when I imagine one of my students of these programs, looking out the window—We had an exercise for example, in one of our classes. They have windows that look—they live in Washington Heights, so they look to the George Washington Bridge. And I said, “Well, the next time you look through that window, think what you can write”, just very simple. And for me, it means a lot that I'm giving, we’re giving them now, poetry. She's not just standing there contemplating, she has poetry now, she can write that down. And that gives a lot of meaning to my own practice. And I just want to become a better writer for them. And to be more conscious about my language and their language to keep building them, in me, the capacity to help them.


Ana Fiore  30:50

Yeah, well what an amazing exchange. And Lisa, you're already sharing how it’s a good moment to be practicing at home. What has, kind of your experience been for your artistic process right now?


Lisa Spraragen  31:12

Yes. Thank you, Ana. The thing is, yeah, these are devastating times. And you know, we, of course, are all sensitive to that. And it can be extremely upsetting at times. But then, you have your whole day ahead of you, to focus on what's important to you. And unusually, in my general way of performing, and I have a guitar duel with Jose Peters, we play a lot of traditional Latin music, for some community outreach, concerts and libraries, and places like that, which are also all closed. But another thing that we do is work on original music that my partner Jose is composing for guitar, and he has so many pieces that we haven't actually developed all the way. Since this whole thing started, he's been working on something new. And I'm the one who sort of puts it into the notation program once he's written a few pages, or a few measures, or erased a lot of things. So there's always a lot of back and forth going on, trying to play it, get it up and running for the new pieces. And also sheltering in place with another person, y ou think, “Well you'll be playing guitar together all the time.” Well, we're actually working on our separate projects much more. He's doing a lot of writing. I'm doing, you know, some practicing of pieces that I haven't played in such a long time, or learning new music. And then the exchange with fellow artists, you know, just because they do have more downtime and you're able to reach out to people a great distances, because this is kind of how you reach them anyway, now people that you see on a regular basis, but they just have that time even overseas or now they're home and find out, you know, some new collaborations that they've come up with. So you're kind of challenged to, you know, keep on, not just going, but reach a new level of excellence for yourself and, you know, to lift up your community in a general way, and be part of it, but more not to waste your time.


Ana Fiore  33:40

Yeah, it's great. It's great to know about the different kind of communities and networks you're all tapped into. I think, you know, we've been so focused on taking care of, you know, some of our older adult participants, who we know are experiencing this in really challenging ways. And you know, every neighborhood in New York, every senior center has a very different community and population. But I'm also really curious as much in how artists are resilient and inventive, and creating these amazing exchanges in the broader community. I'm curious about what you're kind of thinking and feeling right now, is about what artists need and what kind of support is needed right now, what kind of acknowledgement or opportunities are needed. I think that all of you have ways of creating value where others, maybe, don't see it as easily. And so, maybe we can just take a little moment to hear some of your thinking around the needs of the artistic community are right now. Natasha, do you have any thoughts on that?


Natasha Tiniacos  35:13

Yes. My background is quite complex. I'm coming from Venezuela, which is an ongoing tragedy for many, many years. So resilient, I know, I know. You build it.


So the best thing I think is on ongoing need; Artists are very fragile. And support, economical on grants and artistic residences is the best, because you are given an artist time and peace of mind to think, reflect, learn a study, produce their work, because this is our way to find meaning in life as well, and to give something in this occasion of Sugasta. Build something in their community. And I think, also, I mean, it's a very complex question. I felt very vulnerable, for example, last year, because I had a very big surgery. I was in a legal limbo, while in my case of political asylum, while I was waiting for that. But this wait, I mean, we have to gather tools, mentally. Mental health is important. And I'm not even going to the field of healthcare. But we know, I guess, is giving artists these sort of opportunities like Sugasta. That's the right answer. And the very precise answer: It gave me, for example, I can talk about my testimony, my very own experience, it gave me peace, tranquility and a safety net to produce time at the same time I was leaving my community, because that also gave me, not just economical tools and time for my work, but it also gave me an opportunity, to build a sense of belonging to the city of Manhattan and New York, and also where I live, which is Washington Heights. I'm now walking the streets, that I work with my older adult participants. I know I have another purpose here. I know they're walking here in the streets, they go to the supermarket. I would love to share an anecdote with you of one of my senior ICC events. Public events are super important. And I don't know how we're gonna do now with this context. But in 2019, after we had this public event, which was our poetry recital, with decorations and renders and everything with wine afterwards, well, those who could drink or not. But she told me we had a couple of classes afterward and a guest visit. And one of them, she's now 86 [years-old] today. She told me, “Can believe? I was in the supermarket. And someone I don't know, stopped me and said, “I really enjoyed your poems.” And it was, “Oh, wow, my student was just recognized in the supermarket by a stranger, who was in the public event, as a poet.” A woman who had no—she didn't finish high school. And she's been at her 86-years-old recognized in Washington Heights, as a poet. I said, I have to continue doing this is everything. I cherish that anecdote a lot, because inside, her life change and she knows that she's been, I don't know, esteemed by her neighbors as a poet now.


Ana Fiore 39:03

Incredibly powerful. And Lisa, can you share some of your thoughts around the needs of artists right now?


Lisa Spraragen  39:16

Hi, yes. Well, the thing is, the isolation that the people that say, we’re talking about an older adult community, well, there are people that are really, really isolated, even beyond the types of people that could come to go to our workshops, at least they were getting out to their workshops. So it makes you think, now, there are people who can't even do that. They’re completely, like in solitary confinement, because of the situation now. That’s the extreme. So as far as what artists need, so many of our art forms were, you know, used to having a group, a live performance, a gathering of people, bringing people to the community. And it was such an uplifting experience for people who normally, maybe didn't get out to things, but because of the programs through the Lower Manhattan kind of initiatives, that they were geared to people who were not regular subscribers to Lincoln Center, or Carnegie Hall. People who wanted to go, but they didn't think it was for them or something like that. But now that category is going to be almost everyone, if they can't go out to a thing. So there's going to be some kind of rethinking. I'm also a dancer and I'm thinking, “Well, why don't they call on choreographers to, you know, reconfigure some of these spaces to maintain social distancing or do something that we feel comfortably enough in New York City, that it can go on in a different format?” The technology's already here, some live interaction, instead of just thinking that people can all do this on their own or listen to, you know, the mayor, with the governor trying to do well, but why not make it, reach out to artists who have a lot of experience working with limited resources. And, you know, maybe that could also be a way of artists getting support for their input on these matters. But we do have some experience in making the best of the situation.


Ana Fiore  41:38

Such valuable knowledge and skills, and research, that I think could be applied to a lot of different scenarios and fields. And Jing, how are you thinking about the needs of your artistic community right now.


Jing Dong 42:00

So from talking to my artist friends, I think many of them face financial difficulties. That's definitely a need that they have right now. And also for some immigrant artists, their immigrant status, there's, in terms of that, there's a lot of uncertainty. They're not sure if they can continue to work or for how long, because everything is changing, with this new COVID-19 situation. And talking about making theater. Now, I think what I feel I need, is tools and techniques that can help me transform in-person performance into an online performance. There are a lot of software's skills that many people who do live streaming know much better than theater people, so I should learn those. And also, I feel we should look at research. Because, the concentration level of people are different when they look at a screen. And also, when the audience, they proceed with a theater performance on screen, they have different feelings, different needs, compared to in a theater. So what what should we look at, what should we consider in terms of creating a new form of performance? I think research is also very important for us. And besides all those, I think it's also important to share among artists, because you can learn from each other, to overcome some of the difficulties. For example, I have an artist friend originally from Chile, and she's done street theater for many years. So it's a time for me to learn from her, and how you would conduct performance on the street, in an open space, and to do it for community members. That might be something we can do in the future. If we cannot enter a theater space, we can try to turn a street into a theater.


Ana Fiore  44:23

Yeah. Thank you all so much. I would be open, I would be open to hearing anything else you are interested in, sharing, or talking about this in this moment. But if you're open to it, I also wanted to see if you'd be willing to maybe share a little bit of your artistic practice with us. I don't know Lisa, if you would be up for playing a little something for us. If Nitasha, Jing, you'd like to read anything. I thought it might be nice. Just to get to experience some of that.


Lisa Spraragen  45:00

Well, what if Natasha read something and I play along?


Natasha Tiniacos 45:10

En Espanol? I can find my translations as well. Let me think.


Ana Fiore 45:22

We sprung this on you a little bit. So only if you’re up to it.


Lisa Spraragen  45:28

Right, I have to check my tuning.


Natasha Tiniacos  46:12

I found something very short. So whenever Lisa is ready, It’s about five lines.


*Lisa begins playing guitar*


Ana Fiore 47:11

Thank you. Natasha would you read it one more time for us so that we can get the audio clearly, I think that would be great.


Natasha 47:22

Yes. I have to share that this is a process of English, writing in English. A park near here, I told my students take a walk, when is socially responsible to do so. So this was after I took a walk here in Washington Heights in the Highbridge Park:


The empty inside of an old tree trunk

Holds a honeycomb

Does it feel its dry branches

trembling by the vast, vibrant, minimal shaking

Oh so sweet.


Ana Fiore 48:07

Thank you. Jing there anything you'd like to read?


Jing Dong 48:11

What I have been doing are mostly interactive activities. So we basically play with a screen or play with objects. Maybe I can introduce a little bit to see if that's helpful. So, one thing we did was like a body part dance, so that everyone can choose one body part. And we all dance with that body part together on the screen with a lot of people doing it at the same time. And also, we can, like, have requests for the whole group, and some requests that we had during our sessions, were that someone asked us to spin in the room, like with keeping the device in their hands and spinning the room and that’s very beautiful. Another activity we did is that we asked people to create objects with paper in five minutes and tell a story about that. That was also very touching. For example, one of our participants will say, and he; it was very simple, because we don't always have all those art materials around. So he simply did a paper cone and told a beautiful story about how he decided to stop eating ice cream, and how he misses it right now. That's the kind of things that we have been doing and the sharing, it’s really joyful. I wish you could be there and see what we're doing and join us someday.


Ana Fiore 49:55

Thank you. Thank you all so much. It's been really wonderful to spend this time together and hear how you’re all doing. Is there anything else anyone want to share about making work in this time or working with older adults at this moment.


Jing Dong 50:27

I think one thing I have been doing for my older adult members is that to provide scientific information for them, because they don't always have access to those information. And they really want to know, more effects about this virus, and they love to hear that from us. So I think that has been helpful.


Natasha Tiniacos  51:05

I would like to add as well, that these phone calls I'm trying with my participant, is because this is the right moment to be vulnerable. This is the moment for, from leaders to artists, everyone has to be open to vulnerability and assign different direction of the society and the whole world. And I would like now to also talk to this artist, who had never taught to senior participants and older adults— I teach often in the college level, I have taught children. And as an artist, I have this dialogue. The richest dialogue I've had is with an older adult. And also an artist, with our craft, we help them enjoy and embrace their process of aging. A conversation that you dream of when you are in finding your own way and in your voice, your craft.


Lisa Spraragen  52:17

Hi, I would say, as far as the the older adults too, because I started teaching them when I was quite young, and not all the time, but in various projects. So my first experience teaching older adults were a very large group and they were blind and visually impaired. And I didn't have experience teaching them but I knew that music and dance that they were interested in, but I would recommend for anybody who thinks well, I don't know how to do it. You know, the older people will tell you what they need and what they want. Just listen to them. And you know, before you know it, you're gonna be an older person. So don't you know it’s not such a gap. If you're excited and interested in what you're doing, they'll pick up on that. If there's anything that would make it easier for them to get what you're doing. If you listen to them, they'll tell you what they need somehow. And they have a tremendous wealth of knowledge, especially about music and dance. So if you tap into that, it's going to be a very rich experience for you as well.


Ana Fiore 53:33

Yeah, for sure. Thank you all so much.

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