THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO COME AND TALK TO US ABOUT CARE TO DANCE TODAY. COULD YOU START BY TELLING US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH THE CARE TO DANCE PROGRAMME?
I’m an Independent Dance Artist and as part of my work in the community I’ve been delivering dance classes for people with Dementia and their families and carers over a number of years. I’ve seen the many benefits for the body and mind which inspires me to continue to find new ways of working in this area.
HAVE THE SESSIONS EVOLVED SINCE YOU VERY FIRST STARTED? HOW HAS IT GROWN AND PROGRESSED?
Initially, the focus was very much on supporting the person living with Dementia and how they might experience the class but over time, the dynamic has shifted. Essentially, it’s a group of people dancing and experiencing that time together.
SO DO THE CARERS OR FAMILY MEMBERS GET INVOLVED WITH THE SAME MOVEMENT AND ACTIVITY TAKING PLACE?
Absolutely. Chair based exercise allows you to warm up and build strength at the same time, particularly the stomach and back muscles used to support posture so it benefits everyone. Once we begin to feel the physical benefits the artistry develops, it becomes more familiar and something we look forward to sharing each week.
I IMAGINE YOU’VE SEEN SOME PEOPLE GO THROUGH QUITE A LOT OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS AND YOU’VE SEEN STORIES AND RELATIONSHIPS EVOLVE. ARE THERE ANY MOMENTS THAT HAVE STUCK WITH YOU?
In a recent session, Margery remembered and shared with the group how much her husband Lionel, loved the dance classes, “He was somebody that when he heard the music, would be up on his feet and dancing around the place, always smiling”. The relationships are so meaningful in the groups, everyone is supporting each other as we move forwards.
THAT’S REALLY LOVELY. SO BECAUSE YOU’RE WORKING WITH PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA, DO THE SESSIONS BUILD ON THE ONE BEFORE OR IS IT VERY MUCH A REPETITION EACH WEEK. DO THE PARTICIPANTS REMEMBER THROUGH MUSCLE MEMORY WEEK ON WEEK?
I use a movement phrase that links to a familiar piece of music such as Perry Como, Catch A Falling Star. Everybody sings along as we perform the choreography. Ultimately, it’s about accessibility and offering something that is going to inspire people to want to move and sing.
OBVIOUSLY IT’S A STRUCTURED SESSION, BUT IS IT ENCOURAGED FOR PARTICIPANTS TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES IN THEIR OWN WAY?
Absolutely, this is an integral part of every Care to Dance class. As I introduce movement, I am often inspired by an interpretation of it in the group which moves me to reflect it back in a different way. This may lead to a participant enjoying a moment in the spotlight! Initially there was a little uncertainty about this but now everybody loves it and looks forward to sharing their own movement. It’s wonderful to see.
I CAN REALLY FEEL YOUR ENTHUSIASM WHEN YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT IT, SO I JUST WONDERED WHAT’S THE MOST REWARDING ASPECT, OR THE PART YOU ENJOY THE MOST ABOUT DELIVERING THESE SESSIONS?
There’s nothing quite like being in a space with a group of people who are fully supportive of each other and wanting to express something of themselves, that’s such a joyful thing. It’s about noticing those moments in the movement and finding ways to amplify them. It’s a joyful aspect of my job.
I GUESS IT’S ALSO NICE FOR LOVED ONES TO MEET OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING THROUGH THE SAME THING. YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND WHAT IT’S LIKE TO LIVE WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS DEMENTIA UNLESS YOU’RE GOING THROUGH IT YOURSELF.
Finding ways to talk about it over a cup of tea is really important and it’s an opportunity to signpost people to different services too. The movement supports this as a way of coming together in a shared experience, making friends along the way.
THIS WEEK WE’RE SHINING A LIGHT ON DEMENTIA AWARENESS WEEK AND ALL OF THE WONDERFUL THINGS DANCE CAN DO FOR THOSE LIVING WITH THE CONDITION. DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT TO PEOPLE WHO MIGHT BE CONSIDERING COMING ALONG TO CARE TO DANCE BUT MAY BE HESITANT, NERVOUS OR UNSURE OF WHAT TO EXPECT?
Care to Dance classes are an opportunity to move, dance and have a wonderful time together. Just come along and give it a go – we look forward to welcoming you!
*All participant’s names have been changed