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Posted: Wed, 03 Feb 2021 15:53
Dance Creative's Co-Artistic Director Caroline Moss explains all on how they are continuing their dance programme by taking it online and how you can get involved:
I am Co-Artistic Director of Dance Creative, an Oxfordshire based Company specialising in work with older communities, and people affected by conditions such as 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 for 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 phonecalls to our most isolated participants, and overseeing a buddy system for participants to keep in touch with each other
- Sending out a regular newsletter, 'Happy and Healthy at Home', which gives ideas for dance and physical activities to do at home, as well as useful helplines and advice
- Sending out resources eg. home exercise programme/therabands
- Providing technical support for participants wishing to access online classes
- Coordinating a buddy system for on and offline participants to support each other
- Facilitating socially distanced visits/walks with our most isolated participants when restrictions allow
As part of our mission to keep people moving, connected and creative, we developed a new project for lockdown called 'Creative Conversations'.
We invited people to record snippets of conversations with family, friends, neighbours and others during the pandemic. They included funny exchanges, discussions about the hardships/positives of the situation, or memories from the past sparked by recent events.
We then worked with local poet Gordon Buss to create a poem from the conversations which we shared with participants over the summer. We are now awaiting the outcome of an Arts Council grant application to dance the conversations, working with participants and a local film maker to turn the poem into a digital dance piece which will be screened at The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury, and curated/presented at The Museum of Oxford.
If you would like more information about this project, or any of our work, please contact us by:
Phone: Caroline on 07815 120727