Celebrate Living with Alive and Kickin

Originally published on May 30, 2024 at Lavender.com

By Alyssa Homeier  |  Photography by Jeffrey C. Nelson

Growing older is something that can feel confusing and scary. One might not know how to approach each new stage in life as they learn and grow from the years before. But, with organizations such as Alive and Kickin, growing older can feel exciting, purposeful, and empowering.

Alive and Kickin is a nonprofit organization that encourages seniors to share their stories and to continue to dive into both new and old passions. Jeffery Nelson, the director of arts and showcasing and conductor of Alive and Kickin, has been with the organization since its start in 2010 by his partner Michael Ferrell. He recalls Ferrell’s drive to move his established career as a choreographer into a more inspirational direction.

“Mainly, his thing was that he was always very connected with seniors and learning stories about their lives which really inspired him to want to start an organization to give a voice to seniors and to look deeply at what do you do in those years when, you know, maybe after you retire, you know, in the past it’s been said that you should really slow down and think about settling in more, and he wanted to give a purpose for later in life to say, ‘Hey no, I’m still gonna go out and rock the world, and do what I want to do and dream big’. Nelson said.

And since these beginnings, Alive and Kickin has prided itself in helping to deconstruct previous narratives surrounding what it means to grow older. Teri Deaver, managing director of Alive and Kickin, started this past January after being personally being inspired by the organization, attesting to the way the mission has only grown year by year.

“I came to it because I’d heard about it, I had friends that were involved with it, and happened to know Michael, but that wasn’t the reason I joined,”. . . “The mission and the work of Alive and Kickin truly challenges the stereotypes around aging and offers health benefits to the participates, the cast members who are in there rehearsing constantly and learning music and such, and then also the inspiration that those receive about what purposeful life might be as they age,” Deaver said.

Every year, Alive and Kickin hosts auditions where anyone can come and try out for a role, whether they come from a background in singing, the arts, or they are just looking for people to share their walk of life with. Nelson emphasizes that no matter what, Alive and Kickin is sure to be a fun and safe place for people to take a part in.

“Many of the auditioners have made it into the group, but some that haven’t have gone on to be amazing volunteers for us and found that that was actually the thing that they were actually seeking. We welcome everyone to come out,” Nelson said.

After auditions, the group performs at different venues, housing facilities, and communities. Each concert inspires the cast, the volunteers, and the many different generations of audience members that are lucky enough to attend. In addition to the events that take place throughout the year, the group works toward their big show. The big show is fully, and wonderfully produced. Powerful storytelling is created through the combination of music, visual effects, and personal statements.

This year’s big show runs from June 6-9 at the Schneider Theater inside the Bloomington Center for the Arts. These shows promise to deliver stories and music from the 1970s. Without revealing too much, Nelson brings to life the event in store. With the theme being the 1970s, not only are there selected musical pieces from the 1970s, but also, personal stories of what it was life to either live through the 1970s, live through one’s 1970s, or both.

“This year they all wrote a story either about living through the 1970s decade and what that was like, or living through their age, the 1970s, and some kind of wrote about both. But it’s a really cool moment where we mix all that into the show where you’ll hear a song and then you’ll get to hear a couple stories from our cast,” Nelson said.

Alive and Kickin is a nonprofit organization that works to enrich the communities that enrich them. Deaver enthusiastically tells of the organization’s ever present desire to expand and diversify their organization with different communities such as the LGBTQ community. The group and all of its members take care to build and maintain a safe and welcoming environment for anyone and everyone.

For people interested in the big show they can attend on these days:

  • Thursday June 6 | 4:00 PM | Bloomington Center For the Arts | Bloomington, MN
  • Friday, June 7 | 6:00 PM |Bloomington Center For the Arts | Bloomington, MN
  • Saturday, June 8 | 7:30 PM |Bloomington Center For the Arts | Bloomington, MN
  • Sunday, June 9 | 2:00 PM | Bloomington Center For the Arts | Bloomington, MN

The organization is always looking for new faces to join, and welcomes people to visit their website, aliveandkickinmn.org for information about upcoming events, more information about the organization, or different ways one can support.

With the many different ways that Alive and Kickin inspires generations of people, there comes many different reasons to want to go to a performance. But, at the heart of it all, Alive and Kickin hopes to remind everyone that there is never an age limit to creating wonderful memories and art for themselves and others.

Alive & Kickin: The 1970’s Can You Dig It?

June 6-9
Schneider Theater, Bloomington Center For The Arts, 1800 W. Old Shakopee Rd., Bloomington, MN

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