ClancyWorks SOAR (Seniors Organize for Arts to Rejuvenate) Program

Organization Associated with Program
ClancyWorks Dance Company
PO Box 3111
Silver Spring, Maryland 20918

The ClancyWorks Dance Company is committed to enhancing the quality of life of older adults in various communities by using the arts as a vehicle to successfully enhance their wellbeing and self-esteem. The ClancyWorks SOAR Program is conducted throughout Montgomery County, Maryland in arts organization spaces, community centers, and senior centers. Programs at each center include dance performances by the ClancyWorks Dance Company and movement workshops for older adults, with programs adapted for each population served.

The SOAR Program extends social engagement and creative outlets for older adults through storytelling and dance. Classes last 60 minutes, and there are between 10 and 25 participants per class between the ages of 62 and 97. The movement workshops allow participants to focus on building a strong physical body as well as introducing exercises that explore creative movement and storytelling. Classes include variations for all exercises, including seated as well as standing activities. Participants collectively create new movement for the class based on stories from their own experiences. If desired, the residency concludes with a presentation by participants to the community.

ClancyWorks reaches over 200 older adults each year through performances and classes, as the result of an ongoing partnership with four community centers alone. The company serves disadvantaged participants of all races, abilities, and backgrounds, and it promotes themes of individual empowerment, community activism, tolerance, and teamwork through dance. All programs and workshops are led by professional artists.

Program History

The mission of the ClancyWorks Dance Company is to: 1) increase the public appetite for and understanding of the arts by presenting high-quality dance performance and educational programs; 2) expand the relevance of dance in people’s lives by demonstrating that creative movement can be used to solve conflicts, develop community cohesion, improve academic achievement, and promote civic responsibility; 3) nurture leadership skills and artistic excellence in emerging artists. The company has conducted many arts-in-education programs focusing on creative aging throughout Maryland since 2001.

Program Research and Key Findings

Clancywork was included in the Washington, DC Area Geriatrics Education Center Consortium (WAGECC) Best Practice Forum Compendium. Read more about this case study in the resources section.

Program Assessments and Evaluations

The goal of this program is to reach underserved older adults through movement workshops and a professional interactive performance allowing them to showcase their knowledge to the community. Outcomes for the SOAR Program include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased sense of self (sense of empowerment, positive outlook, and sense of purpose);
  • Increased participation in organized activities;
  • Increased coordination, flexibility, strength, and dance technique;
  • Increased creativity, demonstrated through participant storytelling and composition exercises; and
  • Increased positive social interactions with others.

Several methods are used to assess the effectiveness of the SOAR program, including pre-, interim, and post- surveys completed by program staff and participants, evaluation of program attendance, teaching artist observation, and outside program evaluator reports.

Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs

Try to develop your program with as much lead time as possible.

Kinds of creative engagement/ program focus Creation of Original Work, Presenting a Performance, Attending a Performance, Participate in a Class, Participate in a Residency, Watch a Lecture/Demonstration
Arts Discipline: Dance, Musical Theater
Target Audience: Active Adults, Frail Older Adults, Intergenerational
Adaptive Program Design Hearing Disabilities, Visual Disabilities, Mobility Disabilities, Cognitive Disabilities, Intellectual Disabilities
Program Setting: Aging Organization (e.g. Senior Center), Arts Organization, Community Center
Program Service Area: Suburban, Urban, International Outreach
Type of Practice: Field Tested Best Practice