Dancers. Companions. Volunteers.
An important and wonderful aspect of DanceMoves is the extraordinary team of volunteers who help shape and deliver our projects. Sharing time, expertise and experience, they bring their myriad skills to sustain and nurture DanceMoves’ core principles of inclusivity, integration and creativity. They are companions to all the participants, sharing narratives and dances together. They are dancers, sharing their love of dance. They ensure that the sessions we create together are safe, friendly, caring, and rich.
Here, they introduce themselves.
Dance has been my love and passion for as long as I can remember.
Without it I do not function well. Dancing stimulates the mind; it increases our vitality, it enables us to express ourselves, to explore, to shed inhibitions, to grow. Within a group we learn to share, to be sensitive and to respect each other’s individuality.
My background is in professional theatre. I later added teaching to my skills, working within the community in a variety of settings, teaching dance and movement to all ages and abilities.
Through training courses and workshops run by The Laban Guild, Walli Meier and Jabadao, I have gained a deeper understanding of movement, movement analysis and non-verbal communication.
I recently joined as a volunteer with Dance Moves’ Dementia Dance group. To be a part of this amazing group is a joy. A joy to be able to share my knowledge as well as discovering new ways of moving. Through Filipa’s gentle guidance we respond to the music, to each other, to the space. There is time for full attention and focus, through the responses to what we see and hear, or by initiating movements, or through singing memories are often unlocked and stories are shared. Precious moments.
There are often surprises too, e.g. high kicks!
Time is also given for relaxation, a moment to be cared for; a much-needed opportunity to breathe deeply. It is wonderful to feel or see tensions being released, to hear a deep sigh, to see a face soften and frowns vanish, to know it feels safe to just let go.
When given the space and environment to be creative, given the opportunity to express our individuality in a non- judgemental way we blossom, we feel respected and valued.
The smiles, laughter and enjoyment within the group each week say it all!
Hazel has taught Dance in schools and a local sixth form college for over thirty years. Now she has retired she still loves teaching and volunteering as a dance partner and has been lucky enough to work alongside Filipa in a variety of projects. She recently completed her “Freedom in Dance” qualification which has a special focus on leading groups of mature dancers.
Since as long as I can remember I’ve been dancing, moving and generally jiggling around to music! I studied ballet and contemporary growing up and for my honors degree in Contemporary Dance at London Contemporary Dance School (The Place) and California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts) exchange programme, graduating in 2004.
Having periods in my life when I’ve been unwell led me to new discoveries of movement therapeutic practices within health and well-being environments. I have studied Body Mind Centering and Authentic Movement with Linda Hartley and Beverley Nolan, and been part of the summer programme with Anna Halprin in San Francisco, California. In San Francisco, it was a pleasure to volunteer with Dancin Power, a charity developed by Vania D, bringing expressive dance to children in hospital and hospices in the San Francisco bay area.
Volunteering with the Dance with Dementia session with Filipa is a joy, the expressivity, passion and creativity flowing through the participants as they move to music is a pleasure to see and be part of. The glowing presence of each participant with experiential therapeutic movement sessions brings true appreciation for who they are, their lives, their stories, their partners, families and carers, and all involved in their well-being.
I’m very much looking forward to the future, and seeing Dance Moves lift off and reach more and more people with their wonderful experiences.
Volunteering with the Dance and Dementia group has enabled me to combine my love of dance and with a long career in health and social are, firstly as a practitioner and latterly as a university lecturer. I have always believed in the power of dance and music, indeed all the creative arts, as mechanisms for change, for healing and for renewed happiness and joy. I believe that there is a creative source in everyone which can be so helpful when expressed with others in a caring community however large or small.
Being a volunteer brings gifts for oneself, not only the wider group as it involves meeting new friends and acquaintances, new experiences and new learning about the ways in which dance and music in particular can work to include everyone regardless of their circumstances. It is fun, occasionally challenging and always rewarding in ways which aren’t always obvious at the time.
Indeed new doors can open up when one starts contributing to a group as a volunteer and sometimes new skills are built alongside older resources already in place from other career or life paths.
It’s certainly worth giving it a try!!!!
I trained as a physiotherapist and studied Laban dance and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t dance. I now teach community dance to
adults in Cambridge. My classes are for adults who want a second chance to explore dance and creativity and I use Laban’s principles to
allow people to develop their own ideas in dance. What is particularly satisfying for me is finding my clinical skills in movement analysis
coming together with my dance experience and taking me in an altogether different direction. If at times I find myself drifting
away from dance my life goes off the rails. Dance keeps me in the right place.
I guess its to do with sharing my love of connection through movement – of witnessing and being witnessed in the moment – of opening to myself and the other – of being less fudged with the need of words and convention that so often become barriers.
I love seeing others light up and I imagine them feeling acknowledged and seen. I guess that many folk with memory and conventional communication problems struggle to sense who they are and long to be able to communication and express themselves more fully. (don’t all of us sometimes..) ….. being a volunteer can open windows of fresh air – smiles and gestures of spaciousness – hidden giggles and playfulness 😊 – ours and theirs.
For much of my working life I was a teacher. I love words and working with children with dyslexia, with bi lingual children and adults recovering from strokes gave me some understanding of the process of language.
But …. when my brother in law M, developed Lewy Body dementia at the age of 51 and gradually found difficulty in understanding and expressing himself verbally I was at sea. While finding some ways to support his language, we knew that we must look for other ways for M ( a former university lecturer) to remain himself and for us to reach him. I began to understand the importance of using all five senses and the benefits of movement but sadly failed to explore the possibilities of creative arts in this new and quite overwhelming situation facing our family.
Then… as I began to spend time with families living with dementia I learned the use other languages – visual arts, crafts, music, movement, touch, And I found DanceMoves and Filipa. One session of”Dancing with dementia” was enough to convince me of the power of dance which encompasses so many vital elements (music, movement, social interaction, eye contact and more) .Take part in a session and you will feel it too.
“When I dance I feel most fully myself”.
Like many young children I went to a dance class. I delighted in it from the first, swiftly realising that unlike written language, which baffles me still, in the language of dance I wasn’t quite as dyslexic. But far more importantly, Giselle, which I was lucky enough to see before I could read, reached depths that the stories that were read aloud to me couldn’t.
Throughout my life, the unique qualities of dance have always sustained me, both as audience and class member. So it is a total privilege, joy and delight to be asked by Filipa to join her magical Tuesday group as she releases a room full of remarkable dancers to recover their life-long expertise. Mere words come nowhere near the profundity of what is experienced by us all.