Categotry Archives: Active Armchairs

For Body and For Brain

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Written by Georgia Smith, Adult Dance Co-ordinator, TRS Teacher and Active Armchairs Facilitator.

We see it everywhere these days, on social media, in the newspapers, on the TV. It seems like the world is pushing a health and wellbeing agenda which can only be a good thing, but what does this mean for the older generation?

As part of our ‘Pull Up a Chair’ campaign this January, we have been thinking about the benefits of dance to older adults. Here at The Right Step we take a holistic approach and always create our sessions with the body and the mind taken in to account. Over the past few weeks, we have talked about the benefits of dance on our social media channels and through a series of blogs including Rebecca’s three part series about motor skills. For this blog, I would like to share some benefits of dance, For the Body and For the Mind. Of course, this is a huge subject and there is a lot of literature out there so this is a summary and specific to Active Armchairs.

Starting with the body, a common symptom for older adults is stiff joints and decreased muscle mass which can make individuals weak and seem frailer. Dance and movement can help to mobilise joints and retain muscle mass as a dance class is a great way to move all different parts of the body rather than focusing on just one joint or muscle. It can strengthen all areas. This can help individuals to retain their independence as they would have the strength to continue to do tasks for themselves.

They say that music and song lyrics are the last to go from someone’s memories so a dance class is perfect for those that are living with Dementia. Recently the Guardian reported:

“Moving more might help to keep people’s brains sharp as they age – even in the face of dementia, researchers have said. Scientists have found older adults fared better when it came to cognitive tasks if they clocked up higher levels of daily activity”

With a focus on enjoyment also, The Right Step aims to lead classes that not only included exercises for the body but also include conversation and creative tasks to help older adults to think and engage physically, mentally and emotionally.

Dance is one of the most social activities we can do so a huge benefit of Active Armchairs is that is brings people together, especially those that may be socially isolated. A dance class can combat loneliness and bring back the sense of belonging to those that may now be living in a different environment or away from a spouse or loved ones.

The Guardian’s article also stated,

“previous work has shown that moving more is linked to a lower risk of dementia, and slows the decline in thinking and memory skills in older adults as they age – but the latest research goes further.”

Please click here for the full article: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jan/16/activity-sharpens-even-dementia-affected-brains-report-suggests?CMP=share_btn_tw

We don’t allow the participants to feel childish in our classes (although play and silliness is part of the fun!). A large part of how we do this is discussion about why we are dancing. The benefits above are often talked about. In her class at Valley View recently, Active Armchairs Facilitator, Becca, had the following experience.

‘When I arrived at Valley View Care Home Derek asked me if we were going to fly away because he remembered that we’ve been doing some songs by Frank Sinatra. When we were using the pom poms I could guess which movement Derek would do and we had a giggle about it. I asked him if he remembers what it does for him and he said ‘it helps loosen our joints’. The care worker there was very impressed.

Seeing Derek have fun and learn about why we do these things lets me know I’m having a positive impact. I like it when people improve and remember things.’
Becca

Although the Active Armchairs Facilitators are artists and not necessarily medically trained in any way, they are keen to maintain and develop participants’ bodies and brain and do all they can to follow the latest research in to do so. The majority of the benefits happen accidentally because dance, and art in general, are therapeutic and physically beneficial without having to force it. 

Above are just some of the benefits of participating in a dance class but let’s not forget the most important thing… Dance is fun and can bring happiness whether that happiness is through the music, the dance moves, the social interaction and conversation, or just enjoying the atmosphere of the room. So ‘Pull Up a Chair’, it’s time to dance!

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A Year in The Life

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Steph, Level Three TRS Teacher, Level Two Active Armchairs Facilitator and Educating Dance Teacher (what a mouthful, she’s reached the highest levels possible at TRS!) was voted TRS Teacher of the year 2017 by TRS staff in November last year. As we are coming up to this year’s vote I asked her to write about her year and I’m pleased to say it’s really varied and has been very exciting!

This is how young dancers in Steph’s classes put their hand up to talk… in any funky position!

A Year in The Life of Steph…

One of my favourite things about my work with The Right Step Dance Company is the variety it brings each day. The past year has been no exception to this. Teaching all over Kent and Medway, I’ve covered thousands of miles, planned hundreds of classes and had a wonderful time sharing my love of dance and movement with hundreds of class participants for another year. 

Flicking through my diary, I’ve been reminded of some of the new schools and care homes I’ve visited this year amongst my regular classes. I’ve been teaching for The Right Step Dance Company for over 5 years, and whilst there are new classes and ‘one off’ sessions happening all the time, I have some brilliant regular classes too.  One of my longest running classes is the Friday afternoon Dance Club at Byron Primary School. I wrote a blog post (read it HERE) about their Dance club earlier in the year after their fantastic Summer Term. Often we get to see the development and enjoyment children have in their dance classes, but there isn’t always a show or opportunity to share the brilliant work the children have achieved. To overcome this, we decided to film the last class of term so they could share their achievements and experiences. I was so pleased to have been able to put this video together for the Dance Club participants at Byron Primary.

Another filming day, and definite highlight of my year, would have to be the BBC Filming Day at Hale Place Care Home. We were honoured and utterly thrilled to have been asked to be part of the filming as one of the home’s favourite activities. We continually see the positive impacts of Active Armchairs, but when others can really see and feel the benefits of the classes too and wave the Active Armchairs flag of joy it’s a brilliant feeling! Myself and Rebecca had a wonderful morning with the residents and carers, and I think its fair to say we both left that morning with big smiles on our faces!  Hale Place was a relatively new class for me at the time, and has now become one of my regular weekly classes. I have loved getting to know the residents even better over the past year, and look forward to another year of dancing and singing with everyone.

There have been great team moments throughout the year too, with our twice yearly All Hands Meetings and training sessions. We usually find ourselves teaching alone, so having the opportunity to meet with others teachers on the team at All Hands meetings means we can share experiences and advice. It’s also just a lovely opportunity to have a good catch up over a cup of tea and some biscuits!  We often have training within these meetings, and in our most recent one we had a session with confidence coach Andrea Barker.  The session was not only a great team bonding experience, but also enabled us to take strategies away to implement into our practice.  Catch us striking our power pose below!

I really enjoy the opportunity to work with other TRS teachers, and as a Level 3 TRS Teacher, I had the opportunity to mentor one of our newer teachers to the team this year.  When teachers join me in my classes for training, I love to share experiences and tips so it’s been great to be able to focus this into a mentoring process.  I know myself I find it very beneficial to be observed, and to share teaching practices with other teachers, so combing this with my experiences as a freelancer made for a great first mentoring experience.

As I reflect upon the year, It’s very hard to pin point a few favourite moments, as in all honesty every day and every class brings something magic. I mentioned the notion of ‘Magic Moments’ and how we capture them in classes in an All Hands meeting a few years ago and it has since become a wonderful way to share these little snippets of joy with everyone.  There are plenty of Magic Moment quotes to be found on TRS social media; Whether it’s a comment about the participants class experience, a child that expresses their enjoyment and pride at learning a new dance step, the older adult that taps along to the music for the first time or feedback from a teacher/carer about how a participants response is a breakthrough….we are so lucky to be a part of so much magical! Here are two of my most recent Magic Moments. 

“Year 5 at Singlewell Primary School have been learning Bhangra Dance this term and will be showing some of their moves in their assembly this week. They were looking fantastic in their dance class earlier in the week and we can’t wait to hear how it went!”
Steph

“Singing in the rain is my tune of the day today!! We had a great sing along at Fort Horsted and reminisced about the great Gene Kelly and his wonderful dancing in the rain and swinging around the lamppost!”
Steph

As the final school term of the year approaches, and I begin to think about Christmas classes and plans for the new terms in 2019 (!) I find myself feeling very grateful for having another great year of classes and experiences with the Company.  This year especially seems to have flown by…but maybe that’s because I’ve just been having too much fun dancing!

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Sharing Is Caring

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By Georgie

Over the half term we held some sharing sessions for the TRS Teachers. Both for our schools dance classes as well as our Active Armchairs classes. It was lovely to have so many teachers involved, and from all different levels of the TRS team. Sharing ideas and collaborating with one another is a vital part to The Right Step’s ethos and we enjoy it so much.

Firstly, we started off with our Schools Dance sharing. Becca, our Schools Dance Co-ordinator started us off with a great warm up to Bamboleo by the Gypsy Kings. This was a warm up she had done for a carnival theme in a school, so she included the use of bright feathers. Whilst we had the feathers out we discussed different ideas to use them for, for example using them to tickle different body parts. As well as talking about behaviour management within the class. As feathers and any sort of prop can be a slight distraction, especially with younger children. So, using ideas such as ‘Put your feathers on your head’ to keep them still and focused works really well.

20180213_114336Next Georgia shared her ‘weather’ game with us. We created different movements to represent the different types of weather, from sunshine to rainbows to twisters to lightening. You can start off by giving a couple of examples then get your class to help you come up with the rest. A great way to build up movements to use throughout your class. Then you walk, jog, skip and gallop around the room. When the teacher shouts out a weather you do the action that represents this. We discussed how you can use the main idea for this game and change it to the different themes that you may come across in your classes such as superheroes of jungles.

Hayley, one of the newest members of the TRS team shared an exercise where the idea is to walk around the room, but you are lead by a certain body part; for example your hand. Using this to ‘pull’ you around the room. Then you can switch to different body parts! The more interesting the better! We had elbows, bottoms, knees, and ears. A great way for children to learn about themselves and their bodies!

I then shared some cross-curricular ideas. I had chosen some words from some of last year’s book week books such as ‘The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. Ben’ and using these I laminated individual letters, and had the students create as many different words as they could within a set time. This promoted team work as well as using Literacy within a dance lesson.

We discussed lots of different ways to which we can use these ideas throughout our lessons. Coming up with more ideas, for example with the letters. You can then get the children to make the shape of the letter using their own bodies. We also looked at cool downs, how you can take movements which you have learnt in class and repeat them but slowly to start cooling the bodies down!

Overall it was a very successful Schools dance sharing! And we can’t wait until the next one.

 

The next Sharing was for our adult dance classes, mainly focusing on Active Armchairs.  Again, a lovely turn out, we had a good mix of previously trained Active Armchairs Facilitators and our new trainee’s too.

20180214_153431_001I shared my warm up to ‘Love and Marriage’ by Frank Sinatra. This has been used for various themes within classes and as it is a well known song, most participants enjoy it. I also shared my  ‘around the world’ theme using a blow up globe. This is great for conversations, discussing where they have been, where they want to go. You can also use it to practice co-ordination for example throwing and catching or rolling across to another participant. Finally, I shared a dance to ‘Let’s twist again’. This is a great song to use again as most know it and it encourages participants to twist, which can be something that they use less as they get older. It also included the hand jive and jazz hands for an all around fun dance!

20180214_152503Clare shared a few of her favourite things she’s been doing recently. She brought in her stretchy material to show us. These are great as they work like resistance bands but aren’t as strong so anyone can use them. She used pieces of lycra material and cut them into strips. We then went around in the circle and came up with a movement each, which we then put all together to create a dance! She also shared with us her lovely cool down to ‘You are the Sunshine of My Life’ which is such a lovely song and a great way to finish a session.

20180214_154416Georgia shared some of her exercises that she has been using in class. She showed us her foot exercise to ‘Jailhouse Rock’ another great upbeat, toe-tapping song to which most people know! This works really nice as a foot exercise as it’s a nice steady beat, and she even included a bit of a wiggle and boogie for the chorus so that participants can have their own creativity in there. She also shared her dance to none other than ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ by Bon Jovi. Again, a fantastic sing along that most know. This was really fun as we got to play the drums, rock out on a guitar and throw our arms in the air! She also included circles throughout to work through the whole body. Like wrist circles, ankle circles, shoulder circles etc. It was a really fun and beneficial dance.

Again, we had such a great time sharing our ideas, you can see how much by having a quick look through our video below.

Thanks to all that came and shared, looking forward to next time!

 

 

 

 

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Magic Moments!

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We recently held our All Hands Meeting, a chance for the TRS Teachers to get together, talk about the company and the direction it’s taking. As part of the meeting, the TRS Teachers shared the best things that have happened to them this year. We’ve been gradually sharing them on Facebook for the past month, but thought you might like to read them in one go.

 

I had a magic moment today at Gillingham Age UK. It was only brief and fleeting, but magic all the same.
I don’t know if this lady is there other days, but on one of the middle tables near the window there is usually sat a lady who sits and doesn’t appear to join the exercises as much. Well, on this particular day, during a Doris Day song… I caught her eye, and actually caught her singing along to the song!!! She didn’t join in with any other songs, nor did she dance, but to see just a little twinkle in her eye and joining in just a tiny bit was fantastic. Sadly she did then return to her word search when the next song started. But I am definitely going to use “Whatever Will be Will Be” again.
Clare

 

One of the children I teach at Wrotham Road Primary has been struggling to skip for some time, but the other week he finally learnt how to! I was so proud! We started with hopping and turned it into skipping.
Alice

 

At Warren wood where I teach street dance, the girls in the class come in saying ‘’I’ve practiced the dance!’’ It’s so sweet to hear!
Katie

 

In Active Armchairs I have recently been using a tambourine. I tap a rhythm and the participants clap it back to me. They then all get a turn! It works really well, and they really like it!
Alix

 

At Lulworth House there is a lady who always joins in active armchairs and is usually really enthusiastic. One week, however, she wasn’t feeling herself sadly. So I wondered what I could do to get her more engaged. As the lady is from Spain, I decided to put some Ricky Martin on and she loved it!
Clare

 

At World Book Week this year I was at St Mary’s Primary School. With one class my theme was ‘space’. I asked the children to become planets and create their own solar system with movements. For example I used words like orbit for turns. It was fantastic. They were so involved and imaginative. It was really lovely to see all of the boys and girls working together!
Becca T

 

At Hoo Primary School recently I had a really good day there! I was so impressed to see as I walked into the school the girls were there ready and practising their dance. It was lovely to see how excited they were!
Steph

 

Active Armchairs amazes me everytime. Even when it’s a harder session, you just see them move the slightest bit and it’s just beautiful to see them come alive with the music and movments.
Steph

 

At Byron Primary School, I have been doing a carnival theme. I use feather props and everyone takes turns in being the leader. However, usually there is one girl who is a bit too shy to be a leader, but she still joins in and follows. Well, last week I couldn’t believe it, she was so excited and enthusiastic to be the leader of the group! It was so lovely to see, and her mother was asking how she had been, and she was surprised to see her confidence grow too!
Becca G

 

I went along to watch Steph’s active armchairs class at Mayflower Care Home. There was a lady there, and all of I sudden I noticed her standing up. She was dancing and boogieing all the way over to the window. Then she danced with all the other participants on her way back to her seat!
Hayley

 

The other week I was covering a class for Steph at Abbotsleigh Care Home. Then the care worker asked me if we could do the ‘Cha Cha Slide’. I was a bit surprised to be asked this! And in honesty I never would have thought to do that song in Active Armchairs, but I gave it a go, and it was fantastic. The residents really loved the beat and all of the care workers came in and did the dance for them. It was lovely to see everyone smiling and having fun altogether!
Georgie

 

I go to Valley View on a regular basis and so I have made some lovely relationships with the residents there. One lady, sadly has quite a bad memory but this never stops her joining in. And what I love most, is that she remembers every single song I play and sings along to them all! Most of which bring back lots of lovely memories for her!
Georgie

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BBC Filming

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One of the care homes we visit, Hale Place, was filmed for a documentary by the BBC as an example of an outstanding care home. The staff and residents were asked to chose their favourite outside entertainment providers to come and be filmed on the day… they chose Active Armchairs (our seated dance sessions) and Nightingale Dogs. I went along with TRS Teacher and Active Armchairs Facilitator, Steph, on the day of filming!

20171025_095829When we arrived interviews were taking place in the garden. BBC presenter, Fiona Phillips talked to the manager and some of the residents’ relatives whilst we were there. Steph introduced me to staff and residents then we began class. Although it was an unusual class with various strange things happening for filming, it was mostly has normal and everyone had a lot of fun. Everyone kept telling me how much they enjoy Steph’s classes, it was a pleasure to hear. They call Steph ‘Dancing Queen’.

Steph’s great. The first time she came for a taster, I said you have to get her in every week. One lady didn’t join in with anything, but seated dancing she does. She loves it. It’s great for them all. They don’t all join in with everything, but they all do some. They love the choice and the music.
Mandy, Carer at Hale Place, October 2017

20171025_103207Steph used lots of props and they built up on the ‘silver puddle’ as the class continued. Egg shakers, pom poms, long elastics and scarves all had a place. There was lots of rock ‘n’ roll music because that’s the residents’ favourite type as well as some spontaneous singing from one of the residents and Steph. The most notable began ‘good morning, good morning, we’ve talked the whole night through, good morning, good morning to you’ and continued because everyone joined in. What a start to class!

I left with a huge sense of pride and enthusiasm for more Active Armchairs. What a way to go back to work… it was my first class since maternity leave! Here’s a video about our time there.

 

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On The Wall!

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It’s always great to hear the good things said about our classes, but it’s even better to find out that a care home is so pleased with them they’re sharing photos of the sessions with residents, family and friends. This is what happened at Mayflower Care Home where Steph, Rebecca and Georgie have been delivering Active Armchairs, Circle Dance and Active Armchairs One to One. The photos below were found on the wall, but there are also some in the home’s brochure!

Active Armchairs in the main room. Steph is dancing with a resident as other watch. This is a great chance for the facilitator to get to know individuals!

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Active Armchairs One to One means that everyone has the chance to dance and interact with our facilitators. Here Steph has been invited to a resident’s room and works with an individual in one of the living areas as well. Such a rewarding time.

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Some more photos of One to One Active Armchairs sessions with Steph. This time there are some family members and friends present. Everyone is welcome to join in if they want to. There’s also a photo of some local school children doing cheerleading with residents. It’s great to see them dancing even when we aren’t there!

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And here are some of the things that have been said about our time there…

“That class was fantastic, all the residents enjoyed themselves, we cannot wait until next week.” Amy, Activities Co-ordinator, April 2016

“I found that, during the Circle Dance class, there was a story and I grew a bond with every resident. The circle and interaction are great for that and it gives the session a real feel good factor. One resident didn’t really fancy dancing at first, but after a particularly jolly piece of music that seemed to appeal to her she said “That was lovely. Thank you for coming. I like to dance and I can Cha Cha, you know!”. She grabbed my hands and was off. Another resident chose to stand to dance without her frame. The circle and supportive care staff allowed her to do this. I could tell how happy this made her. At the end of class she had to check with me that I would come back again soon. Introducing the Liquid Gold prop for cool down allowed staff and family members to dance with the residents. This always leads to beautiful moments. A son thanked his Mum for their dance. It was lovely to see.”
Rebecca Ashton, TRS Teacher after the first Circle Dance session, November 2016

It’s really nice to have so many things happening each week. We can build excellent relationships with the residents, staff and family members (some of whom regularly attend) and can tailor the sessions really well. We’re all looking forward to the sessions continuing for a long time.

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Pound Shop Christmas Props

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Why we love the pound shop!
by Clare Wilders, Level Two TRS Teacher and Level Two Active Armchairs Facilitator.

As dance teachers we are always looking for innovative ways to spice up our dance classes. From using YouTube videos to show a piece of choreography, pictures so children can visualise the theme of our class, to props to give the actual dance element of the class more impact. In fact in our Active Armchairs classes, a prop is a compulsory element to the class, bringing an added element of interaction and assisting older people in maintaining their dexterity.

In an ideal world we would have an unlimited budget to use for our props, however as self employed teachers, we have books to balance, so a little creativity goes a long way.

Many an hour can be whiled away shuffling through bargains in the toy department, or as I was this morning, wandering up and down the Christmas aisle of the pound shop looking for potential Christmas props for my Active Armchairs classes next week.

I found some items with potential. I nearly bought a whole bundle of Christmassy cat teasers… with feathers, santas and little bells on each, only to find that they tangled up really easily just hanging up. Imagine the delay to my class trying to drag them out of my dance bag after they had turned into the inevitable spaghetti of strings and santas!

Finally I settled on a few random items showing potential:

In previous classes I have borrowed the TRS “Jingle sticks” with great success, and these are inspired by those, but a little different. Using a pool noodle, we could have a softer “stick” element so they could easily be patted against a hand or leg.

So far so good:

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I also found some wreath hangers that bore great gold bells… so of course the Cat got little curious:

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Things were looking jingly. A touch of gift ribbon, and the results are below. I can’t wait to try them out to “Jingle Bells” next week.

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May Day Mayhem

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Yes May is here already!! And we had a fantastic May Day here in Medway.

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Clog Dancers

Rochester as always hosted the Sweeps Festival with hordes of Morris Dancers from around the country gathering to show their best. We had clog dancing, Morris Dancing… sword dancing, and one set of Morris Dancers were really getting quite lively with whacking their metal poles together! Very dramatic (hope there were no squished fingers).

In light of this, we thought we would bring a hint of May to our Active Armchairs and Social Dance Classes this week too.

First up was Rochester Care Home where we had quite a few participants, so each one had a single jingle stick. The participants helped create our Morris Dance trying out their own ideas with the sticks and then we danced the dance. It was great! Even people who don’t usually join in, couldn’t help but take part as the bells just begged to be jingled. Jessie really enjoyed it, as being partially sighted, she found the added sound of the bells encouraged her to join in as well.

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Jingle Sticks

At the end I went up to each participant and we did our own version of the stick hitting element of Morris Dancing, which I realised was particularly good for this group who sometimes struggle with coordination.

The next outing of the jingle sticks was with our Monty’s Movers… a lovely group of ladies at Montgomery Court Assisted Living. This time, with a smaller group, we were able to have two sticks each, so much clacking of sticks was undertaken throughout the dance.

What a great week for our props basket. Talking of which, we have realised just how many props we have, so do check out our facebook page for future tales of how we incorporate props into our dance classes to add a little flavour and fun.

Share and Share Alike

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As a community dance company, we like to share and work as a team. So every six months, we do exactly that… share our ideas. And what a great idea that is.

Last week we had our Active Armchairs sharing session. Here we share ideas for props, choreography, exercises as well helping each other with any issues that may be going on with their classes.

First up was Alix who shared some great stuff… I particularly liked her hands and dexterity exercise. Whilst we do use an arm movement exercise in each Active Armchairs class… I don’t really focus specifically on dexterity for a whole dance. This was great, she included turning palms towards and away (great for the wrists) and finger to thumb work… all very good for maintaining finger strength and mobility, which can be very much compromised with sufferers of arthritis and rheumatism.

Processed with MoldivRebecca shared her fantastic new ribbon stick props. Having made them herself using dowling bought at the local DIY store, and ribbons from eBay (we love eBay!)… she had  created a whole dance especially for them. They also have the potential of doubling up as rhythm sticks too… simply remove the ribbons and you can tap out a beat. Great fun to be had there!

Georgia shared her ball props… a bag from the pound shop, again great for dexterity with a little fun thrown in. Each participant has a ball, they can then squish the ball between thumb and forefinger, roll the ball along the forearm (doubling as a gentle massage as well) or even throw up and catch, in order to maintain reactions.

I shared my idea of using lycra strips kind of like the giant scrunchie, but with a little more flexibility if the room doesn’t lend itsel fto a straight circle… we could have the strips crossing the room, forming a web, linking particular people… and so on. I also shared my “When You’re Smiling” dance… which seems to go down very well with most of my participants.

What a great way to freshen up our classes and learn some more tips. A most productive morning.

To finish off, we had a spot of brainstorming over a particularly challenging class that has cropped up recently. A good way to re-think our class management techniques.

We also found out that since Active Armchairs began in 2010 there have been over 4000 Active Armchair experiences provided. How fantastic.

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Three Events, One Exciting Day

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In 2014 Big Dance, The River Festival and Medway Open Studios all fell on the same day, Saturday 12th July. As a result we joined so many other people for a spectacular Saturday.

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Our first part in this special day was a performance by Ginny and Maude. This time they were at the seaside for a hilarious adventure involving indecision, ice cream, Charleston dance and lots more! The Mayor was present and was amused to receive one of the very special comics drawn by Richard Squarecube. Richard is an artist based at Sun Pier House and, as well as his comic, his Ginny and Maude painting was hung on the pier and his Sirens of Cetham water colour could be found in the Big Dance green room. I’m so pleased our dance performances have inspired him so much!

ActiveArmchairsNext for us were dance workshops. I had just enough time to squeeze in an Active Armchairs workshop that I co-facilitated with Georgia. Active Armchairs in the sunshine, on the pier, beautiful! Georgia also lead a very popular Creative Dance workshop and fellow TRS Teacher, Alix was there with her dance company, AMG Dance, so she lead a workshop too!

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As if that wasn’t enough, we then entered The River Festival’s domain for a spectacular performance of The Sirens of Cetham. The promenade between Big Dance and The River Festival was long. The sirens and musicians got tired in the hot sun, but it was well worth it as they collected the audience up with their haunting sounds and intriguing presence.

The performance at The River Festival had a huge audience. I was pleased to hear that one mum said, “My son is normally all over the place, but he sat still and watched captivated. When I asked if he wanted to see something else he said no and he stayed for the whole piece. Fantastic.”

Then I walked back as the promenade went back to Sun Pier and Big Dance for yet another performance. This time the audience had been warmed up by The Big Sing. 12 minutes later, and the final performance was over. Luci Napleton who organised Big Dance 2014 in Medway thanked everyone for coming. I would like to thank Luci for doing such a brilliant job and for including us in so many different ways.

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Throughout the day I did get a few chances to see other things that were going on. The water displays were especially exciting. A jets ski flipping record attempt and a man doing dolphin dives with water shooting out of his boots and propelling him into the air. There were boats and barges everywhere. The tea room in Sun Pier House was packed. The Artists of Sun Pier House had multiple displays of their work as part of Medway Open Studios. In the Sun Pier House Gallery Kent Association for the Blind (KAB) and edna had an exhibition of art and photography. So much to see and do!

I took lots of photos and video footage during the day and was pleased that my phone made an Auto Awesome, a video automatically made of randomly selected photos and video, very clever! So many people, organisations and mythical creatures featured, Big Dance, The River Festival, The Edith May, Silversmith Dance Theatre, Ginny and Maude, Richard Squarecube, Sun Pier House, Jacob Bride, Sophie Wophie, KAB, Active Armchairs, The Dance Community, Luci Napleton, AMG Dance, Medway Open Studios, edna, Dementia Friends, The Sirens of Cetham, Jet Stream Tours, The Big Sing and many more!

 

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