Arts Programs Keep Seniors Busy

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Older adults from the surrounding neighborhoods very much enjoy visiting our four senior centers.  They chat, they lunch, they celebrate holidays.  But more than that, they participate in a variety of arts-related activities that test their spontaneity and creativity.  They love it all. Here are some of their more recent projects:

Drama. Seniors from the E. Roberts Moore Senior Center were among seniors from other organizations who took part in Mi Abuelito dine tu, Grandpa tell me a story!, a festival of short plays written and performed by the seniors, typically anecdotes of people surmounting crises.  The festival, presented May 4 at Teatro Circulo, 64 East 4th Street in Manhattan, was sponsored by Councilwoman Rosie Mendez’ Immigrant Cultural Initiative.

“We did absolutely fantastic!” says Wanda Abeyllez, E. Roberts Moore program director, who coordinated the center’s participation with assistant Roselina Rivera.  “The place was packed and the audience loved the play.  Some became emotional and cried.  People came up to us and mentioned that, from all the presentations, ours was the best.  Our director, Ana Manzano, who works for BronxWorks as a consultant for the senior center, is the one to whom we owe our success.”

Painting, drawing and crafts. The Heights Neighborhood Senior Center encourages seniors to use their imaginations in a variety of ways, including periodic art exhibits.  The most recent displayed paintings that were their holds exhibits of paintings done by seniors, the most recent their interpretations of famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, says Maria Rivera, who directs the center and also serves as director of BronxWorks department of senior services. Seniors handy with needles and fabrics combined that show with a “crazy hat” contest.

One way to show off your creativity is to dress the part.  An Easter fashion parade at the Heights center displayed a range of novel and imaginative costumes, many of which were designed to tickle the funny bone. There were contests for the best dressed his or her fashions, and for the “craziest, original his or her Easter bonnet.” It was party time at the Heights! Now regulars at the Heights are testing their skills at, of all things, Renaissance mask making.  The instructor of mask making is Dmitri Saari of the Society for Education in the Arts, Inc. Thanks also to the Bronx Council for the Arts for supplying art materials.

A Volunteer Recognition Ceremony has just been held at the East Concourse Senior Center, where certificates were presented to the center’s most devoted members, including those who contribute to the arts program, says Lucesita Lombillo, program specialist there. Among other activities, a local artist, Francisco Vallejo, meets with seniors every Thursday for a workshop on jewelry making.  Among organizations that have assisted East Concourse in its art programs is the Bronx River Art Center which gave seniors a 10-week course in photography and loaned them cameras, resulting in an interesting photo show focusing on street scenes.

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