Dancing is to be alive [Helsinki]

Happy End i Helsinki. Foto: Per Morten Abrahamsen
Hands touching while dancing at the carecenter Käpyrinne Ry in Helsinki. Photo: Per Morten Abranhamsen

We’re getting older than ever before. And often the old age is described by all the abilities that we loose. However the project Happy End reframes old age and insists on asking “What kind of freedom does old age bring you?” This approach compels both elderly people, and the families and caregivers to look at what makes life worth living, and to focus on the advantages of old age.

After participating in the Happy End project at their home, the carecenter Käpyrinne Ry in Helsinki, the residents still talk fondly about the experience.

Happy End by NextDoorProject in Helsinki
All the participants at the carecenter Käpyrinne Ry in Helsinki. Photo: Per Morten Abrahamsen

To do something new and at the same time familiar

Aino, an elderly woman who participated in the project, mentioned that she always liked dancing, but that this type of dancing was “different – modern and fun“. And her fellow residents agreed strongly that “to be part of this project means to be alive. To do something new and at the same time familiar.

Even though the performers  did not speak Finnish as the residents of Käpyrinne Ry, somehow they made the communication work. They figured out how to understand and get to know each other through signs and body language – and dancing, not least.

Happy End by NextDoor Project in Helsinki. Photo: Per Morten Abrahamsen
Dance can make you feel like flying. Photo: Per Morten Abrahamsen

It is never too late to learn something new

It has become an important memory for the elderly people to be part of this project. To work with “lovely and friendly people”, and to experience the process becoming an actual performance – more of the residents thought that to be “quite magical”. “It was fun to realize that it is never too late to learn something new,” Aino says.

Happy End has managed to meet the residents of Käpyrinne Ry and other carecenters with at curiosity, love and devotion, that has allowed them to use dancing to express themselves and to rediscover life.

If nobody asks you to dance, will you sit there silently, or will you dance on your own? Hopefully after being asked, the elderly people involved in this project will have remembered, rediscovered or learned anew how much life dancing brings, and maybe they will even start dancing on their own.

At the very least they now have the physical memory of the challenging and exciting process, and the knowledge that they accomplished something magical.