By Scot Kersgaard, JVA Consulting

Dance, anyone can tell you, is a form of artistic expression. It can also be a catalyst for community and social inclusion.

Life/Art Dance Ensemble was founded in 2009  by Jessica Riggs, who was working for Volunteers of America as a dietician in senior homes. What she noticed was that low-income seniors living in subsidized homes seldom got out to enjoy cultural facilities or programs.

She started a nonprofit professional contemporary dance company in order to bring the dance to people who otherwise would never see it, and work to collaborate with other artists. Life/Art Dance Ensemble was born.

Laura Morales, third from left

Today, the group performs about 10 free shows a year in low-income senior homes. They also perform for paying audiences in theater a few times each year, with three shows coming up in the next two weeks at Denver’s Crossroads Theater, 2590 Washington St. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for children.

Laura Morales, JVA’s Managing Associate for Evaluation dances with the company, serves on its board of directors, and has also ventured into choreographing for the upcoming show.

“I started dancing when I was a toddler, and I just never stopped,” she says. “When I was 23 and out of college, I just realized I had to have it in my life. I am at my happiest when I am dancing.”

She says the senior home audiences are the best audiences in the world. “They are just so appreciative and engaged,” she says.

Laura says her evaluation skills come in handy when she works on grant applications for Life/Art Dance Ensemble and in making sure they are evaluating their impact and progress whenever possible (which ranges from surveys to digital storytelling).

Next week will be a busy one for Laura. She’s also kicking up her heels to lead JVA’s Evaluation Intensive on August 27 and 28.

From the Life/Art website:

Life/Art Dance Ensemble is a charitable and educational 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that collaborates with other artists and artistic mediums to explore the intricacies of personal and social issues, thus creating an artistic interface with the community.  Additionally, Life/Art Dance Ensemble focuses its outreach on enhancing the quality of life and independence of Metro Denver’s low-income senior population by providing them with free dance performances and facilitating social interactions within their communities.

Follow the Life/Art Dance Ensemble on twitter @lifeartdance

and on Instagram @lifeartdance