Dance, Creativity, and Socialising

Introduction: of Jessica Conneely and Dance for Wellbeing

3:03 Interest in dance for mature adults there was an Art and Health Institute that brought artists into health care institutions. It included visual arts, singing, poetry, theatre but had no dance programs. Jessica managed their dance/movement  programs starting in care homes but then expanded into community programs. Connecting health benefits and creative expression to delve into their own story – exploring themselves.

6:20 Many classes, especially in the memory support areas, start in a chair as it is safe, many more relaxed in a chair, especially beginners. After a thorough warm-up, people may get up from their chairs and move on to creative expression and their own stories. Immersing themselves in movement and then make a dance of it and adding emotion.

9:55 Individualised building on a sequence given by the dance leader. Participants can volunteer movements and leader creates structured sequences with movements volunteered by the participants or can be complete improvisation by individual participants. But many like the structure; it gives comfort. Jessica offers classes in care homes, community centres, art centres, or rehab centre

14:30  Response from older participants very positive. Dance training for this population focuses on safety first, assessing mobility, start slowly by sitting in chairs, then standing, challenging the group towards the end of class. Social Interaction very  important to the participants and the classes are very popular. At the end looking and seeing your neighbour next to you and thanking them for dancing with you.

18:27 Benefits of creativity in the form of dance: When Jessica brings classes to care homes, especially memory support groups, stories and finding the secrets in the group to build connection and engagement with each other. Give people time to tell their story and honor their stories by listening.  The challenge in care homes is structured session are not possible but introduce dance by engaging them and their carers in group. Use motion from other areas, like sport to challenge their memory and their creativity. In dementia, movement can trigger their (similar to always know how to ride a bike regardless of how long it has been since one has ridden a bike.

25:15 Give a variety of music styles, tempos, etc. Waltz’s and Irish jigs can trigger movements in a chair. People in wheelchairs can dance. Just need to know modifications.

26:30 Training: Jessica has developed a course through TAFE NSW to teach movement specialists to learn how to engage individuals with dance in their homes or in the community. Next step is to expand into regional areas, and to possibly give the training online. It been up until now a face-to-face course but she is working on an online version. Do not have to be a dancer but have interest and experience in movement. Physios have taken the course previously. Course teaches how to be creative, build the sequence of an appropriate dance for this age group. She recommends that people focus on one or two groups at the beginning to gain experience. Jessica started with care homes and classes for those with Parkinsons. She has expanded into community classes recently. The safely aspects are very important. Benefits: physical movement, engaging creativity, and socialisation.

Contact Details:

FB: dance4wellbeing