I am an Artistic Director & Co-Founder of Dance Creative, an Oxfordshire based Company specialising in work with older communities, and people affected by conditions such as Young Onset Dementia.
We want to change lives through dance, by improving health and well-being, connecting people and communities, and providing creative opportunities for people of all ages to dance together. Before lockdown, Dance Creative were delivering the ‘Dance for Life’ programme across Oxfordshire through 4 weekly creative hubs for older people. Hubs were based in Abingdon, Bicester, Oxford and Witney. ‘Dance for Life Oxfordshire‘ offered Creative Dance Classes, led by professionally trained Dance Artists. Classes were followed by social time with refreshments, and were designed to improve participants’ physical and mental health & well-being. Since lockdown, we have transferred our ‘Dance to Life’ programme online. We currently deliver 3 sessions a week through Zoom which follow the usual format of a Creative Dance Class followed by social time and chat. Many of our participants live on their own and are experiencing intensified feelings of isolation, loneliness, & anxiety at this time. There is also a need for sustained & creative opportunities for physical activities which are appropriate and safe for older people to do together.
‘Dance for Life Oxfordshire Online’ supports our older participants to:
• Be motivated to exercise regularly – vital in current circumstances where many are not able to leave their homes to walk/exercise in other ways
• Have face to face contact with peers – we chose to use interfacing technology rather than broadcasting sessions through platforms such as YouTube, in order to nurture group connectivity through a shared class experience, and through post-class social time
• Exercise safely – our classes improve strength, balance and fitness through a carefully designed combination of Dance with Postural Stability exercises for older people. Using interfacing technology also allows our Artists to observe and correct participants’ technique
• Express themselves – classes use a creative approach so that participants’ own ideas and stories form the basis for shared movement, and social time following the class enables participants to share experiences and support one another However, many of our participants are not online, or are not able to access the online classes, so we have also developed other ways to encourage everyone to keep moving, and to feel connected.
Every week, Dance Creative are:
• Making regular phone calls to our most isolated participants, and overseeing a buddy system for participants to keep in touch with each other
• Producing a weekly newsletter, ‘Happy and Healthy at Home’, which gives ideas for cultural and physical activities to do at home, as well as useful helplines and advice
• Sending out resources eg, home exercise programmes
• Providing technical support for participants wishing to access online classes
• Researching ways to record & distribute our online sessions onto DVD
As part of our mission to keep people moving, connected and creative, we have developed a new project for lockdown called ‘Creative Conversations’.
We are inviting people to record snippets of conversations with family, friends, neighbours and others during this time of lock down and social distancing. They could include funny exchanges, discussions about the hardships/positives of our current situation, or memories from the past sparked by recent events.
We will then dance the conversations, working with local poet Gordon Buss and The Museum of Oxford to develop, curate, and fuse them into a future dance piece, to be shared or participated in digitally, live, or both.
If you would like more information about this project, or any of our work, please contact us by:
Phone: Caroline on 07815 120727