the national conference on dance and dementia



The national conference on dance and dementia
Friday 10th and Saturday 11th December 2010
at the Bluecoat, Liverpool

What a wonderful conference it was!
Additional material and comments welcome at any time by email to Eric the Web.
Links to new information and comments at the foot of this page.
An evaluation by Liverpool John Moores University is now on-line here.

Chaturangan, in partnership with MDI and the Foundation for Community Dance, held the first national dance and dementia conference in Liverpool, with particular focus on the rôle of dance in the care of dementia.

This innovative conference was a multi-disciplinary arts event combining academic papers, keynote dances, presentations of art based research by leading practitioners and specially commissioned dance performances and films.The conference celebrated best practice in this field and brings together a diverse range of artists, health and medical professionals, care staff, biomedical researchers, arts organisations and friends and families of those living with dementia.

There is a growing interest in how the dance community can contribute to health and well-being especially of those with mental health problems such as memory loss. The Department of Health's National Dementia Strategy (2009) places a central focus on destigmatising dementia, raising awareness, supporting carers, and training and developing care staff.

The conference brought an additional awareness of the needs of friends and families whose lives have been affected by this condition.

There were contributions from, amongst others,

Two new dance pieces were commissioned for presentation at the conference.
  • Pieces of memory - Pieces of map, by Bisakha Sarker and Diane Amans, developed with Adam Benjamin, funded by Liverpool Dance Commission.
  • A piece commissioned by MDI and funded by Liverpool PCT.

A new film addressing the stigma against dementia commissioned by MDI and funded by Liverpool PCT.

We are delighted that François Matarasso (Chair, Arts Council, East Midlands) has agreed to facilitate the conference.

Additions made to the website after the conference - thanks to all who sent these additional items

[I've made no attempt to alter the schedule page to reflect what actually happened, but have added links to it!]

  • Robert Bringhursts's peom used by Bisakha in her introductory dance - see the schedule (added 12/12/2010)
  • Julian of Norwich music used for a circle dance by Kath Kershaw - see her abstract (added 12/12/2010)
  • An article about the conference appeared in the Liverpool Daily Post newspaper (added 14/12/2010)
  • Presentation "Dancing with Loss" by Alicia Sofia Garfias as a PDF file here (added 14/12/2010)
  • Nora Aschacher has sent a file of the dance company she works with in Vienna. The document is here; it is in German, a translation by Eric Foxley is here. (added 14/12/2010)
  • Sarah Whatley's presentation as a PDF file (added 16/12/2010)
  • Simon de Pinna's presentation on use of the Talking Pen is a PDF file here (added 20/12/2010)
  • A link to Marina's video about the piece she presented at the conference is here.
  • Comments from Hannah Lefeuvre have been added here and added to the abstracts file (added 3/1/2011)
  • Some of the photographs taken by Simon Richardson have been added here (added 4/1/2011)
  • Audio recordings by Chris Davies of some of the presentations have been added to the schedule (05/1/2011)
  • A paper "Dancing with loss" by Alicia Sofia Garfias has been aded here and amended (15/1/2011)
  • Some poems by John Killick have been added here (18/1/2011)
  • Information on "Spiral Dance" (a community dance company based in Rochdale) is here. (4/2/2011)

Comments received

  • From Fergus Early:
    Thank you so much for a brilliant conference - instructive, enjoyable, moving and rich. I thought you brought together an amazing array of contributors and the atmosphere of positive learning and enthusiasm was quite unlike any other conference I've been to. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year - I hope it involves some serious rest...!
  • From Ken Bartlett:
    I wanted to write to say
    A multitude of congratulations and thank you for such an inspirational
    time of ideas thinking and dancing.
  • From Julia Clark:
    Thank you so much for your kind words. I was overwhelmed with the response from everyone. I too learned so much and want to learn more about the story telling in the gesture of Indian dance. What a wealth of experience is waiting to be tapped into by the scientists. Keep up your amazing work and thank-you once again for your persistence in encouraging me to come despite the snow.
    I wish you health and happiness in the coming year.
  • I was very inspired by the whole event. I hope it will lead me to a new strand of work.
  • From Lynn Hedgecoe:
    I did want to contact you personally to express my personal appreciation for your insight in creating the event and then making it happen and to say that I hope the feedback has been significant, encouraging you to hold it again next year. I fully appreciate just how much organisation and energy goes into the production of such an event and do hope you also feel it to have been of great benefit. I am sure you could fill a hall with twice the capacity! I wonder if most of the audience were ‘convertees’ and whether a follow up one could also target/attract other types of influencers?
    The breadth and quality of coverage, the speakers passion for their subject, the courage of individuals sharing their personal stories, all produced an emotionally charged event, impossible not to take action from.
  • From Diane:
    Thank you for your efforts in respect of the Dance + Dementia Conference. It was splendid in many ways to get a taste of the many approaches people offered and to meet so many interesting people.
  • From Sarah Whatley:
    Thank you for a wonderful event – congratulations to all of you.
  • From Julia Clark:
    I came away inspired and full of ideas and hope to see much more dance in the context of dementia in the future.
  • From Richard Coaten:
    It was a wonderful conference and I'm so pleased that it came off so brilliantly and all delegates found it so inspiring as well. It was the best dementia focused conference I've ever attended and I know I share that with John Killick as we both talked going home on the train! A big thank you to you all for working so hard to make it such a huige success. Now we must find a way of building on the momentum generated.
  • From Hannah Lefeuvre:
    Over two days, Bishaka Sarker provided a rich and full programme of workshops, speakers, debates, performances and provocations around the specific area of dance practice, of working with dementia. Rather than comment on each item of the conference programme, I have written about elements that offered a fresh perspective or an important reminder of the scope for work with the ageing dancer. The full conference was recorded and extracts are available on the Chatarunghan website: (
    Thank you to Dance South West for providing funds to help me travel to Liverpool!
    General thoughts
    I gained a lot from conversations in breaks and over dinner, meeting people with a range of reasons for becoming interested in this work. Overall, there was a very high standard of speakers and a varied programme. It was good to focus on such a specific area and practical workshops are essential.
    As a lot of my work is currently with Early Years children, I found masses of links between the work with young children and people in later years. I wonder why it is endearing when a child cries, gets upset, thinks laterally or confuses their words, yet in later years it is seen as a degeneration, a loss of pride and dignity?

The conference was administered by Clare Bentley at Aspire Trust, Valkyrie Lodge, 30 Valkyrie Road, Wallasey CH45 4RJ
tel 0151 639 9231

“The conference was awesome and the ripples will go on being felt for sometime to come…the balance of practice, process and talk was excellent. A pleasure to attend.” - Chaturangan ‘Marks of Time’ Conference Delegate

PDF flyer A4 A6 JPG

Paintings by
Noelle Williamson
of Bisakha Sarker and Diane Amans rehearsing their piece for this conference.

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