Catz Meow brings dance classes to Seasons Amherstburg

 

By Jolene Perron

 

“Making big dreams come true in a small town.”

The work of art on one of The Catz Meow Dance Education Centre’s buildings showcases everything owner and director Catherine Cristofaro stands for. A business, which she explained was built so innocently, and has continued because of it’s genuineness is showing its heart again by teaching ballet at Season’s Retirement Communities in Amherstburg.

“Our cooperate initiative was to bring dance into our memory care communities and so we went out into the community, thinking that might be a good way to assist us, since we’re not all gifted in house,” explained Season’s Retirement Communities Amherstburg’s general manager Tamasin Dineen. “ We reached out to the Catz Meow and asked if there was anyone interested, maybe some students who were interested in volunteer hours, and we got a great response from them and Catherine decided to do it herself.”

Residents at Season’s Retirement Communities in Amherstburg have enjoyed their last five weeks with Catherine Cristofaro, owner of Amherstburg’s The Catz Meow Dance Education Centre, as she has taught them dance and gotten them moving.

Residents at Season’s Retirement Communities in Amherstburg have enjoyed their last five weeks with Catherine Cristofaro, owner of Amherstburg’s The Catz Meow Dance Education Centre, as she has taught them dance and gotten them moving.

Many of the patients in the memory care community have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Not only was it thought to be a great form of exercise, but it’s also a safe form of art of the residents to participate in.
For five weeks Cristofaro has been working with the residents. She said in the beginning, there were a lot of spectators, but now they all get up and follow along with her much better than their first class together.

“Whether or not they remember the names of the exercises, you can tell that their muscle memory is definitely engaged, the music is sparking a part of their brain and their heart and their love of dance I think many of them have,” said Cristofaro. “That’s really encouraging to keep coming back and they look forward to seeing me.

Whether they remember my name or not is not important, but when they see my face they know that we’re here to dance and it means a lot to me to be a part of it.”

Cristofaro has spoken with Dineen to expand upon the program. She said she is going to be receiving additional training in order to know how to approach the residents in specific manors according to some of the challenges they face individually. This way, she can be more efficient and effective in what she is sharing with them in order to maximize on the success of the program she is trying to develop for them.

Catherine Cristofaro, owner of Amherstburg’s The Catz Meow Dance Education Centre teaches ballet to a group of seniors on the memory care floor at Season’s Retirement Communities Amherstburg.

Catherine Cristofaro, owner of Amherstburg’s The Catz Meow Dance Education Centre teaches ballet to a group of seniors on the memory care floor at Season’s Retirement Communities Amherstburg.

“The residents just gravitated towards it,” said Dineen. “They absolutely love it. She has also approached me about taking it one step further, not just for the five-week class, but doing something long-term and we would be so excited about that because I think both our residents in independent living and memory care, it gives them a sense of purpose, it gives them something new to try and it encourages them to work on their cognitive skills as well and learning something new is always wonderful too.”

Dineen said ballet is something that was outside of the box for them to offer, and while many people may not think ballet is something the seniors would be interested in, they most certainly are and she is incredibly grateful for the work Cristofaro has put into the five-week program and is interested in seeing it expand.

“I feel just as blessed to be here, and grateful, to be teaching these people as I think they feel towards me,” said Cristofaro. “I’m really excited to see where this opportunity takes me.”

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