the national conference on dance and dementia



Thanks to Hannah Lefeuvre for notes on various of the presentations, included below.
  • Diane Amans

    (Notes by Hannah Lefeuvre)
    • What is important? What is likely to lead to a positive experience?
    • Playfulness – Liberman (Educationalist) says that a truly playful person has a rich resource of coping strategies and that playful encounters are important in all aspects of life.
    • Wellbeing and dementia is about being able to engage with people. Our own inner child is open and free. Confident and at ease. Spontaneous and immediate.
    • Lures to invite people to respond: a giant balloon – clocking reactions, Occupational Therapist played the violin and they moved together, Rock and roll music
    • Partner dancing is ideal
    • Non-verbal communication works well – verbal directions can cause anxiety.
    • Author Oliver James talks about feeling good and not knowing why

  • Francis Angol

    ‘Body Stories’ – memories of our lives

    Body Stories is a physical metaphor for lifestyle changes, celebrating the presence of self through a triangulated dialogue of rhythm, movement and cognitive awareness set within framework that embraces wisdom and life long enriching experiences. Choreographed by Francis Angol.

  • Sue Benson

  • Jagjit Chuhan

    Art and Dementia

    Jagjit Chuhan will consider aspects of how the making and appreciation of visual art, without recourse to verbal language, enables conscious thought, offering valuable insights into the experiences and the cultural and social environment of the artist. Whilst this is true of any artist, she will explore how creatively engaging with the visual and performing arts provides opportunities for people with dementia to express themselves and to access long or short term memories, emotions, self-exploration, thoughts, dreams and hopes. Creative activities engage areas of the brain that are not damaged by the disease and thus reawaken a sense of personality, identity and dignity, and may even improve mobility, speech and quality of life. This non-pharmaceutical approach helps alleviate anxiety and confusion and provide some respite for people with dementia and their caregivers. She will consider how this has been successfully achieved in numerous projects such as those at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A further aspect of art and dementia is the problematic potential for studying changing characteristics in art production as a means of early diagnosis and treatment, in the context of art history and the effects on art production of the artists’ personality and of art conventions and styles, looking at the aesthetics of art movements such as surrealism, and the work of artists such as Willem de Kooning.

  • Julia Clark

    Tapping into embodied neurological rhythm with music and dance therapies

    Julia has been privileged to work alongside Artists and Musicians in a variety of rehabilitation settings. It was the therapeutic effectiveness of the arts that prompted her to consider the scientific evidence of the neuropsychological underpinnings to this success. Her paper looks at the parallel neurological development of movement, musicality and the emotions.
    Music and dance have long been known to aid meditation, raise mood and improve heath but in addition to this Julia will discuss the successful use of music as a targeted therapeutic tool in people with impairment of the movement pathways in the brain. Taking evidence from the field of amputation and prosthesis she will also discuss the role of dance as a means of restoring a feeling of wholeness to those whose lives are restricted by neurological conditions of whatever type.

    (Notes by Hannah Lefeuvre) A highlight of the conference. Julia gave neuroscientific evidence of the value of dance and music for dementia. It was a very dense presentation. Notes from her presentation are listed below, kept in note form, for clarity.

    • Everyone is different - we each have a different genetic cross-wiring in the brain, therefore each dementia is different. This gives justification for the single case-study approach. The arts can tap into this
    • Julia’s case study had Locked-in Syndrome* at 22 yrs old. She was intellectually intact, but couldn’t move, except her eyes. The person is there. Can happen after a trauma or stroke. A 1 year into the condition, the patient could swallow and breath independently. As the years went by, Julia observed the patient degenerate rapidly.

    * A journalist had Locked-in syndrome recently and documented it. If we go back to medical routes, we can trace it to 1907. Sub-cortal dementias affect parts of the brain controlling movement, e.g. Parkinsons, Huntingtons, Motor Neurones. Facial and emotional expression decreased. The cause of damage is not important, it’s where it is. Starter motor in brain initiates movement. Loss of brain’s piper rhythm in Locked-in – unable to initiate movement.

    Evolution and use of music

    Music therapy can be used to enhance mood. People may forget what you say, but not how you make them feel. Many types of memory. Examples of rhythm in nature / everyday lives include:

    • Migration, eco-location – e.g. bees, swallows, bats, pod of whales
    • Military cadence – override emotion through rhythm and song. Energises, motivates, improves posture.
    • Rocking child, courtship, ecstasy, anger, battle chant
    • Rugby Haka

    Music and movement share pathways. Isabel Curran 2006 – A regular musical beat can be used to replace the piper rhythm – internal rhythms synchronise and muscles respond to the beat of the music. For example, clapping – possibly heart beat.

    Mozart effect
    • Causes dophamine and serotonin to be secreted – diminished in movement disorders
    • Improves space-time reasoning
    • The heart is a muscle, therefore it can respond to the music
    • Calm music- increases the production of hormone Oxytocin – the love hormone and reverses the effect of stress hormones
    • If Mozart is played during surgery, has been found to resulted in a better recovery

    General notes
    • Classical Indian music slows breathing and heart rate.
    • Music preference is less effective than pace.
    • Repetitive sound meditation – repetitive ohm and keeping very still has been found to be beneficial. FMRI scan of meditation shows up a focused attention, increased attention to frontal lobe
    • Props – extend your movement and sense of life and self (amputated self)
    • Brain feedback loops – moving, facial muscle – smile. Milliseconds to change mood – when hear happy music – changed facial expression
    • Non-parametric and parametric tests – I need to look this one up, as I got a bit confused.

  • Dr Richard Coaten

    Goulash, well-stirred

    Theme: After giving it this title without much thought I have discovered the following. The root of the word goulash refers to a shepherd in Hungarian 'Goulyas' and the link to his food, a stew made with beef or veal including vegetables & seasoned with paprika ( hot & spicy). The root of the word 'stir' is to 'rouse from dormancy', to begin to come to life, to excite feeling, involving or provoking insight. 'To make a liquid move with an agitated motion so the particles change position'. I am thinking about the agitation of dementia, things mixing together and mixture as confusion....coupled with the idea of transforming the everyday and revealing insight in the process. I am symbolically aiming to stir the pot of body language and to include the idea that wherever there is a 'dementing' process there is also by way of Jung's idea of the 'compensatory function' an equal an opposite attempt by the body to maintain equilibrium and in effect to 'rement' whether or not we are consciously or non-consciously aware of that taking place in ourselves or in others.

    Duration: 20-25 minutes

    Purpose: as expressed above its purpose is to embody and posit through the dance that wherever 'dementing' is taking place, there is also at some level and in some way, a 'rementing' going on, or an attempt by the organism to maintain a homeostasis in spite of what may be deep and on-going neurological deterioration. It is formulated also on personal and professional experience in the field for the past 25 years and the notion that 'Personhood' is not lost in spite of severe and enduring mental deterioration. One's fundamental identity still exists and it is the responsibility of those around us never to lose sight of this fact and to find varied and creative ways of being able to reach the person.

    (Notes by Hannah Lefeuvre) Richard Coaten was a memorable speaker, who’s paper was rooted in the idea that whilst cognitive function is diminished, emotional intelligence is not. He talked about the importance of being in the moment and being emotionally open. Holding a “high quality, free-floating attention”, supporting identity and personhood. Dementia strips us away to our essence, it is an expression of humanity. We are building bridges of understanding, through the lived body. For example, we are building bridges between:

    • Physco – Soma
    • Sense – non-sense
    • Known – not yet known
    • Thinking – feeling
    • Meaningless – meaningful

    The meeting place is about relationships.

    Richard highlighted the Dance Movement Therapy skills that come into play in this work, including:

    • Locating triggers – ways in
    • Mirroring – reciprocity – same height / can you accept difference in otherness?
    • Rhythm – neuroscience gives us evidence that rhythm helps organise principles in our brains
    • Music, song and percussion
    • Importance of repetition
    • Re-membering
    • Working through metaphor and symbolism

    He also stressed the important of working in pairs, rather than solo and the need to plan, debrief and prepare well.

    Richard referred to the conference image, of two hands, to provoke an improvisation, by delegates, of one hand dementing, the other supporting. He linked this to Yung’s theory on compensatory function, ie, that when one element of the body dements, another compensates. He talked about our role as supporters / enablers within these two hands.

    Richard spoke of a subjective embodied experience and how through dance, participants can go from a place of low well-being, anxiety and depression, to a lovely sense of positive wellbeing and the brain being at rest.

    He spoke of “creative alertness”, “poetic awareness” and called the work “embodied, phenomenological and psychological” He saw the work as remedial rather than curatorial and drew a parallel between the improvisatory nature of dance and that of a person’s response to their condition.

  • Fergus Early

    (Notes by Hannah Lefeuvre) Observations
    • One to one work is ideal - picking up on signals
    • Multi-sensory input - touch, words, putting elements together
    • Cultural appropriateness – research people’s backgrounds – triggers
    • Sometimes the work can bypass the diagnosis
    • Greater attention span in dance

  • Heather Edington

  • Alicia Sofia Garfias

    Dancing with Loss: Dance Movement Psychotherapy for Older Persons with Dementia

    Loss in a Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP) group with older persons with dementia is experienced on many levels. Both the client and therapist feel it. Fear of loss may touch our deepest fears and force us to observe issues that could have been long neglected.
    My work focuses on an exploration of loss that occurred in a therapeutic relationship with a group of older persons diagnosed with dementia. I describe my practice as a DMP through a review of literature in psychodynamic psychotherapy, DMP, and dementia care; describe a movement exploration; and in-depth discussion of case material.
    The theme of loss in clients with dementia is explored through Evidence-Based Practice and research in relation to DMP and case material in the context of therapy within a Day Hospital. Common losses within the group are identified, including the painful experience of the loss of a group member. I describe the process of therapy over time through clinical examples of interactions and interventions that occurred as part of the interrelationship between clients, therapist and dance movement, while making use of the boundaries of therapeutic space.
    I discuss the ending, projection and assessment of the work including its limitations, bringing together ideas from psychodynamic psychotherapy processes emerging from the clinical work and literature reviewed on the theme of loss, DMP and older persons with dementia.

    See a PDF file of her presentation here.

  • GODS - Growing Older (Dis)gracefully

    La Cosa Claras el Chocolate Espeso
    Choreography: Linda Clough
    Music: Sam Ferry

    This piece has as its starting point the contribution that eating chocolate can make to stress reduction. More importantly as we dance we have fun, we share this fun with our audiences, we are very active in our enjoyment of rhythmic movement, and we lean on, support and lift each other. All these are factors which help us, and others, to alleviate the strains of everyday living.

    We have been very fortunate that in 2010 we have both received funding from Liverpool City Council and the PCT, and benefitted from ongoing support for Liverpool John Moores University Dance Department.

  • Azucena Guzman

    Azucena cannot put her talk on-line for research ethical reasons, but you can obtain references, publications and Danzón music by emailing her.

    (Notes by Hannah Lefeuvre) Azucena talked about her research in Psychomotor dance, using Dazon music and dance. Her research is interested in non-pharmological interventions (such as dance) before pharmological. Although this was an incredibly engaging presentation, grounded in sound academic research, I took few notes. I have requested a copy of her slides ( I will forward these on when I receive them.

  • Dr Jill Hayes

    Dance and Dementia in a Creative Arts Training Project

    This lecture will focus on a Skills for Care dementia research project which took place in East and West Sussex in 2007-2008. The action research case study involved three arts professionals in training dementia care staff in the formation of relationship through the arts modalities of dance, singing and arts activities. The focus of the training was the awakening of sensory receptivity and expression, perceived as a key to relationship and hence communication in dementia. Staff at 7 care homes were introduced to dance, singing and imaginative improvisation which they then put into practice with their service users. Amongst the discoveries of this action research was the important finding that staff felt deeply seen and acknowledged by one another and as a consequence of this experience felt motivated to spend time being with service users through embodied presence both in arts based activities and in the general daily routine in the home.

  • David Howe

    Forget Me Not - To what extent does the individual occupy the role of the person with dementia?

    David Howe, Drama and Movement therapist, presents a short talk on the benefits of using film in therapy as an aid to remembering and personal change in the everyday . The talk will focus on 6 filmed dramatherapy sessions with a mixed group, aged between 80-90 years, in a specialised daycare setting for clients with varying degrees of dementia. Using a brief filmed extract patterns of movement and group reflection across sessions will be discussed. Jungian perspectives on ‘unconscious memory’ and its role in strengthening the individual will also be mentioned.

  • Teresa Jankowska Liverpool PTC

    National Dementia Strategy

    Teresa spoke of Liverpool’s approach of moving away from the medical model of the Doctor being the expert, of acknowledging the individual, who know their own stories best, and listening to these stories.
    She talked about Liverpool’s commitment to workforce development and training (including consultants and therapists) and gaining an increased understanding of Dementia. She cited examples of identified quality outcomes, such as ‘a person has the right to contribute to society, even in later, demented years’. She recognised the ‘bringing into contact’ that occurs as we come closer to death.

  • Kath Kershaw with Cynthia Heymanson

    Come and discover the potential of Circle Dancing when working with people with memory loss, and learn the skills to provide an activity with therapeutic benefits for people with dementia.

    Dance and Movement have successfully been included in activities for people with dementia for many years. Making use of rhythm, music, touch and movement, for people who experience difficulties with communication and loss of confidence has been evidenced as promoting their well-being. 500 staff from Day Centres, Care Homes, Support Groups, PCTs have attended training workshops since September 2008; their positive feedback endorse the benefits of this activity.

    What is Circle Dancing?
    Circle Dancing has developed from traditional folk dance from around the world and there is a network of groups in the UK. Circle Dance emphasises relationships, group belonging, emotional and physical aspects of being.

    How can it work for People with Dementia?
    Dances from the repertoire have been adapted and simplified, and can be done both seated and standing. The features of being in a group, holding, touching, swaying, promotes re-attachment, relationships and stimulation – all help retain the sense of personhood. The activity can be used at relatives’ events. The cultural range of dances can re-link users, participating staff and carers with their cultures.

    The circle dance demonstrated during the conference used Sydney Carter's song "Julian of Norwich" available on a CD of Sydney Carter songs (some sung by him) here for example.

  • John Killick

    (Notes by Hannah Lefeuvre) John Killick read several poems that had been written by people with dementia and emphasised the creative urges and talents of those he had worked with. As he read these poems, including one about “floating in the sky, high up above the clouds” and “young people don’t see true beauty” I felt as though the voices were those of people that had drifted into a profound place, where the mind starts to shut down on the day-to-day practicalities and stresses of life and move into a spiritual awareness. I wondered if there was any research that might correlate the level of stress / creative outlets against the likelihood of getting dementia. For example, if a person experiences less stress, is creatively and spiritually fulfilled in childhood and adulthood, are they less likely to ‘dement’ and is dementia a degenerative condition or a regenerative condition? A moving back to what is important, coming full circle – more in touch with one’s spirituality and a profound thinking, in preparation for death / another life? Experiencing rich South Asian dance in Liverpool, I was reminded of what this culture and philosophy can offer to our perspective on dance in later years.
    “It’s a licence to be free to be me...I think when I got the diagnosis...I wanted to find out if I was artistic. Being able to think outside of the box. It’s a nice feeling.”
    “I’d rather be a creature of the air than the earth.”
    “Why cry when you can laugh? It doesn’t cost anything”
    Killick spoke of his dream – a work with dementia to include contributions and collaborations from all art forms.
    • “I’m still here” (Book) – the gifts of alzeimers
    • (John Killick and Kate Allen)
    • John referred to Tom Kitwood and Faith Gibson, who talks about how dementia strips people down. Frees them to be creative. Communicate with greater authenticity.

  • Yael Loewenstein

    Voice of Change

    Yael Loewenstein will present observations, thoughts and considerations as she continues to develop her project Voices of Change. (Supported by Chisenhale Dance Space and The London Borough of Tower Hamlets)

    Voices of Change is a community project that involves fitness/dance sessions in local care homes and drop in centres. The sessions aim to offer an opportunity for participants to dance together and express their history in the community and related points of view. The project is currently in a second phase that is being rolled out to approximately 60 participants.

    Drawing together her work as a choreographer, dancer, falls prevention practitioner and fitness/movement practitioner, Yael will discuss outcomes of the project for groups and individuals. Effects and responses to this developing programme, particularly in terms of memory and working with a range of participants including many with early stages of dementia, will be presented.

    To view a short film produced in 2009 during phase I of Voices of Change please follow either of these links.

  • Sissy Lykou

    Learning Disabilities and Dementia

    The combination of learning disabilities and dementia hides quite many risks in the sense of frequently missing or misinterpreting the early stages of the latter. A person with learning disabilities finds it difficult to express him/herself and dementia deteriorates this state of expression.
    With this paper I will try to briefly explain the targets and expectations of the therapeutic interventions when working with such clients in care homes.
    Although the main focus in the learning disabilities services is on enabling people’s growth and development of their full potential, when dementia is also diagnosed, then the maintenance of skills, abilities and interests should be the main target. In this way we do not only sustain a better quality of life for the client, but we also try to move with their pace without making the environment more stressful and frightening; feelings experienced due to the dissociation with the here and now.
    Positively relaxing interventions, failure-free activities, reminiscence work and the arts can be the tools for understanding the motivation and meaning that informs our clients’ behaviour (Kerr, 2007).
    The theories and researches described in this paper will be illustrated by a case study of a woman aged 62 with mild learning disabilities and psychosis, resident of a care home for people with learning disabilities and mental health problems, who attended dance movement psychotherapy (DMP) sessions for ten months; the DMP input was provided before and after her diagnosis of dementia.

  • Mantra Lingua

    Mantra Lingua is a UK based publishing house that supplies bilingual resources around the world.

    The products connect with and transcend national differences in a way that is respectful and appreciative of local cultures. The name Mantra Lingua is an amalgam between the Sanskrit and Latin, but Mantra also covers the Far Eastern and the African continents.

    Mantra Lingua is about connecting languages for children. With increased mobility of populations across the globe, e.g. Brazilians in Japan, Germans in Sweden, Indians in Gambia, Mantra Lingua has developed a set of values that stems from a desire to retain distinctness and yet encourage integration of new communities in various societies.

    Mantra Lingua's values are as follows:

    * To celebrate the cultural and linguistic nature of society and to establish a culture of tolerance and awareness in young people, both from the host and the new communities.
    * To provide resources for ethnic minority groups with strong central characters and community settings, to help build the child's self esteem and social interaction.
    * To share across cultures the children's books that are special - taking best selling well-known books and publishing them in as many languages as possible.
    * To provide teachers and librarians with creative resource materials, which are inclusive of all the community and are not dominated by one single culture.
    * To strive for innovation and creativity in learning methods, promoting the values of bilingualism not only to enhance language skills but also in the learning of the major national language.
    * To increase the awareness of the diversity of cultures and the enriching prospects for more cross-cultural activities and resources. Together these will make for a more global understanding of the nature and nuances of peoples from different countries or communities.

  • François Matarasso

    (Notes by Hannah Lefeuvre) Francois Matarraso opened day two with his reflections on the conference so far, drawing parallels between his impression of the work on day one and his interaction with his son in his early, pre-verbal years. Francois acknowledged Community Dancers’ sensitivity and their ability to say the unsaid. Whilst Art is always about relationships, he felt that it was more than that in this context – about a communion – a shared commitment and values. He referred to Richard Coaten’s term, re-membering, of being a member of a community again: that’s what remembering is. He talked about being present in the moment, and a present being a gift that the practice brings.
  • Clive Parkinson

    On Fortuitous Novelties

    This presentation will explore the personal and professional impact of dementia within Clive’s own family and will take in popular culture, the arts and design to understand the potential of human flourishing whilst living with dementia, exploring current collaboration

    Clive Parkinson is a facilitator and educator with experience that spans the statutory and voluntary sectors. He has written and presented widely around the arts and health agenda sharing his hands-on experience as a practicing artist and his strategic understanding of the field through research and development. He has worked for the National Heath Service as an artist in a hospital for adults with learning difficulties and as a senior mental health promotion specialist; and within the cultural sector was development director for Arts for Health Cornwall. As current Director of Arts for Health at Manchester Metropolitan University his work focuses less on the built environment, ill-health and deficit, and more on public health, well-being and community assets. He is currently working with the Asia Europe Foundation on multi-sector pandemic planning and response, and is keen to bridge the arts and public health sectors.

    On Fortuitous Novelties

    (Notes by Hannah Lefeuvre) Clive, a designer, spoke about Art, design and sentience and his work with an artist Darren Browett, creating objects to take into homes. He spoke of how the objects had provoked conversations, which were beyond just reminiscence work. These carefully crafted objects were loaded with meaning. He talked of his own experience with his grandmother and her requests to constantly come home and his own observations of increased disinhibition, giving powerful opportunity for creativity.

    I loved the tidiness of his work. So much was encompassed in these smooth, clean, wonderfully crafted objects. Giving opportunity to sit and wonder, stare, touch and share.

    Cohen “arts is like chocolate for the brain. Focuses on assets and the person. Art allows us to explore taboo ideas e.g. decay and death, sexuality and mistakes.”

  • Marina Rova

    De Mentis: Silent Stories I, II and III
    [Dedicated to Derek Malcolm Hamilton Barns]

    Artistic Direction & Choreography: Marina Rova
    Music : Greg Vamvakas

    Perforrmance: D. Bilon, E. Kolyra, G. Tsagdis, H. Pickett, N. Colbert, B. Naso, D. Prismantaite, V. Pipe
    Costume/Set arrangement: M. Rova
    Sound, lighting and technical support: S. Kapsaskis

    With one eye beyond the real
    More real of past and free
    With will and grace to
    Find herself she moves...
    A soul of grace and eyes of silk
    “This is mine, isn’t it beautiful,
    This is mine” mine alone, beyond
    The real, with out a present
    A heart that’s free
    A soul content

    De Mentis: Silent Stories I, II and III is a research performance project exploring the lived experience of dementia and a collaboration between Artistic Director, Choreographer and Dance Movement Psychotherapist Marina Rova with London-based artists and therapists. This work has been born out of Marina's witnessing and clinical encounters in a Continuing Care Unit for Dementia and her curiosity about: the embodied ‘reality’ of the terrifying symptoms of the disease, the richness and variety of experiences of those living with dementia, the wisdom of the re-membering body and finally, the generosity of spirit and immense sense of humour of many of the affected people she has worked with.
    In the preliminary stage of the work, and over a series of ten structured embodiment workshops (May-July 2010), the group unpacked themes arising from the illness and the care available for it. As a certified Dementia Care Mapper (Bradford University) Marina incorporated principles of this approach into a blend of creative process methods such as improvisation, authentic movement, movement sculpting, free association, vocalisation, writing, drawing and contact work, among others, whilst maintaining a phenomenological perspective throughout the investigative process.
    The final three-part theatre performance takes the viewer into a journey of memory, identity and the un-known. The performers' transformative dance will journey them from dark to light , from joy to dispair... into the other side of the looking glass and back again...What will they find on their searchings and how will they emerge from the process?

    De Mentis aims to bring the viewer closer to the lived world of dementia. It does not wish to show what people who experience dementia 'look like' nor does it give solutions to the problem. By introducing embodied (lived) stories, inspired by people who have experienced the disease, De Mentis aims to remove the stigma attached to aging and dementia. De Mentis celebrates personhood, humanity, life and embodiment. The final product is a three-part dance theatre performance including performances by 8 artists and an original music score. The piece will also be available for installation, presentation and lecture/conference purposes in Winter 2010.
    An excerpt of the final work (up to 4 performers) is available for a Premiere Showing at the Dance and Aging Symposium in Liverpool (2010).

  • Bisakha Sarker

    We Have Known about remembering,
    about the journey forward
    as much as it is about the
    journey taken;

    Alongside wisdom
    memories dance,
    absences can still hold me.
    Remembering is what moves me on.

    We Have Know was made over three days in autumn 2010 at the University of Plymouth

  • Talking pen

    TalkingPEN Publications is an innovative, London-based, publishing house that develops ground-breaking technologies for a diverse range of markets, including resources to support teachers and learners. TalkingPEN Publications is part of Mantra Lingua - the leading international publisher of dual-language resources for the learning of English. They are the publisher of an award-winning, unique technology that brings sound to paper.

    TALKINGPEN is the breakthrough technology that brings high quality sound to paper with audio information, songs, stories and games. This is a low cost solution to many ICT needs and has won numerous awards in Britain. Make and access recordings instantly, anywhere, with this wire-free portable pen. Hours of content can be stored on the 2GB TalkingPEN that is simple to use and affordable.

    Some key products include the award-winning Talking Stickers, award-winning resources for the blind, a unique device for the bird watching market and exciting projects with large international organisations.

    TalkingPEN Publications are keen to establish new links and are happy to discuss the customisation of bespoke resources to suit your needs.

  • Dr Sarah Whatley with Naama Spitzer

    Dance Connections: researching the experience of dance artists and elders with dementia and memory loss working together

    This presentation will reflect on an artist development programme, led by Dance Art Foundation in association with Coventry University during 2009, which offered dance activities for elders alongside an opportunity for dance artists to develop new skills in working with older people with reduced mobility, memory loss and dementia. The focus will be on the research process which ran alongside and within the project. We will discuss the participant observation research methodology; the value of this method, and what records were generated and documented to reveal the importance of an embodied engagement with the process. We will present some of the findings to highlight how a model of exchange supports all those involved in the project, resulting in the elders’ experiences being valued as a source for movement development and the impact on the dance artists’ own professional development.

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

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