Tag Archives: art

Arts 4 Dementia Conference

by

Yesterday I attended the Arts 4 Dementia Best Practice Conference, “Towards Social Prescribing (Arts & Heritage) for the dementias”. It was jam pack day that left me thinking. There were also a huge amount of important thoughts and ideas shared by speakers so I thought I would share some aspects of the experience. 

We were welcomed by Veronica Franklin Gould who was the driving force behind the day and who is clearly extremely well-respected by her colleagues, I can see why. Immediately she left us with actions to complete… Providers of relevant activities should sign up to the Arts 4 Dementia website and notify the local NHS social prescribers. A clear message… share information and start a conversation. 

We not only heard from professionals working in the field, but also from Christine Maddocks about her experience living with vascular dementia. In Alexandra Coulter’s words she was “the voice of the individual in the system”. She inspired everyone and was an instant reminder to all of why we were there. 

One of the most relevant sections of the day for me was when two outstanding academics, Dr Daisy Fancourt and Professor Sebastian Crutch spoke. Relevant because we are about to run our own research into Active Armchairs, but also because the studies that have already been carried out can influence our provision and teaching.

Daisy talked about how the arts are multi modal (they have lots of components at play) so there are a wide variety of outcomes. She said “The more people engaged with these [arts] activities, the better their memory was years on.” A fact that can boost all providers of arts activities to anyone, if they are living with dementia or not. As dance artists and arts providers, we can also take other things from her speech. For example, we should try to include lots of different elements and approaches such as song, dance, conversation. Theses are already all important elements of Active Armchairs, but perhaps we can develop this further.

Having taken part in the Created Out of Mind training and I’ve also read about his research, I was keen to hear what Professor Sebastian Crutch had to say. He encouraged us to bring in people with a lived experience and find what works for them. The slide in the photo shows how different people are affected in different ways with different dementias. In summary, everyone is different and so the effect of the dementia is different too. 

He said “What people really need is continuity of support” and I would whole heartedly agree with this. I’ve seen the disappointment when a fantastic arts intervention has to end due to funding. It will be a difficult hurdle to jump. One that those spearheading social prescription seem to think will be solved by volunteers, but that’s another story. 

Sebastian also talked about the importance of support and community. Care is varied across the country, but he encourages people to learn about online support such as Facebook groups and said “Nothing local is not the same as nothing available.”

The comment that resonated with me most was when he said “The fact that it’s in the moment, or short-term, doesn’t make it irrelevant.” He was referring to the various graphs showing short-term and long-term improvements, some of which are only present during a session. I have always considered that, when working with anyone, the moment is just as important as the outcome. In fact, in dance, working to an outcome such as a performance can be stressful. A participatory project often has more benefits to health and well-being and the journey is key. 

After refreshments, we heard from Dr Michael Dixon, OBE GP. He speaks very highly of social prescription and is extremely positive about the initiative. He was inspiring. He said we’re “caught in the scissors of doom” (increasing costs and a reduction in funding), sees social prescription as a way out and believes that prevention is critical to the survival of our health services. I believe that it’s not only that we should think of; If we can prevent illness, we also prevent pain and suffering. 

The thinking is changing, why wait.
Dr Michael Dixon, OBE GP

The keynote speech was given by Baroness Greengross, a lady whose prestigious achievements, when listed, take up a lot of space. She clearly has a passion and knowledge for the subject and believes “The key is timing. We must guide people to the arts at the earliest stages.”

 

 


In plenary debate, chaired by Dr Marie Polley, we heard from six people (see list in photo) for five minutes each. Various points of views were heard and it was concluded that there was more conversation to be had and that a group for Arts and Dementia must be created as part of the network. I would go further in suggesting that, a group representing the artists should be created too. Social prescription will not work without them. 

“Where people’s’ souls are nurtured as well as their bodies.”
Professor Martin Green OBE FIAM FInstLM, FRSA, FIPSM, Cheif Executive Care England

“It really should be about conversation”
Georgia Chimbani, Dementia Lead, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services

“Biggest thing to happen in the arts for some time.”
Dr Richard Ings, Arts in Health, Wellbeing and Criminal Justice lead, Arts Council England.

Ian McCreath summed up in a way that I recognise as the approach used by many arts organisations and individuals to deliver their services, “Universal, but recognising that some people require additional support.” I agree, sessions only for those living with dementia and their carers have a place, but I believe in an inclusive approach whenever possible and appropriate. 

The afternoon was split into two sections of relevant examples. The first was entitled Arts for People Affected by Early-Stage Dementia, chaired by Dr Patricia Vella-Burrows who I’ve been lucky enough to hear speak and learn from a several times now. Examples from poetry and music were, of course of interest, especially Gemma Dixon’s story of Bob who played the organ before class. “His confidence was boosted, he had ability to speak in full sentences where he couldn’t before”.

 

 

The section about dance was most relevant though and it was a delight to hear from Dr Sophia Hulbert and neurophysiotherapist who has a love of dance. It was boosting for me that many of the things Sophia attributed to the success of her sessions (including items in the photo of ‘Conceptual Underpinning) are also found within Active Armchairs.

 

Sophia also did a quick demonstration. This was a fantastic way to get everyone reawakened after lunch and demonstrated how “Imagery can really empower movement”. In this case the imagery was also uplifting as it was about flying in a hot air balloon. I always enjoy seeing a conference of people who usually sit at a desk dancing! 

 

 

The second section in the afternoon gave everyone a better understanding about how Social Prescription can, and does, work. Nicky Taylor talked about how working in partnership has more impact, Dr Richard Hooker encouraged us to always remember the carers, Wendy Gallagher told us about the Handbook for engagement with people living with dementia and Bogdan Chiva Giurca, an extremely inspiring young man said that “One step is to bridge the inter generational gap”. Kathryn Gilfoy, Director at Resonate Arts, had many examples of different activities to share and I enjoyed her slide about the benefits of arts and person centred care.

Following this Professor Helen Chatterjee MBE discussed social isolation and how museums can help combat it. Her points about the research already carried out motivate artists to provide deep level cognitive stimulation to ensure that activities are truly engaging. I also picked up some more thoughts for the up coming Active Armchairs research project. 

Nigel Franklin, Chief Executive, Arts 4 Dementia, closed the day. In just a few minutes he left us with actions and inspirations.

“There are more people living with dementia now that ever have before.”
Nigel Franklin, Chief Executive, Arts 4 Dementia

It was one of those days that leaves your brain fuzzed with thoughts and ideas. I will act on them.

In terms of practical application, I believe there are some gaps that still need exploring, transport and fair payment for artists for example, but as an overall ideal for shifting prescription to preventative measures, I’m completely on board. Not just for people living with dementia though, if done well, Social Prescription could help everyone with their health and well-being and provide a cultural shift. We will see.

I do hope The Right Step will be found delivering prescribed dance activity, especially as what we currently offer is already of high quality and always developing to suit the needs of participants, but we will have to see how the commissioning side evolves and how we are able to be included.

I will conclude with an open invitation for anyone working in social prescribing to contact me. We must open conversation about how we can bring dance with a health and well-being agenda to the masses.

Related Images:

Valentines Dance Props

by

Georgie set my daughter and I a challenge this month…

Make some Valentine’s Day themed dance props! We had a lovely time making them and playing with them since. I’m not going to tell you how to make these things as there are lots of tutorials online about that already, but I would like to share some thoughts and ideas about what we did. 

 

 

Sensory Bottles

  • This is a fantastically versatile prop. You can change the size (imagine a massive one for team work!), the shape (small hand held ones for dancing with), the content and the colour (red gel food colouring was pretty) so they could fit almost any theme. 
  • These are a wonderful thing for Active Armchairs. For all the reasons they are good for sensory stimulation, but also because they are unusual, not patronising (providing the contents is appropriate) and they brighten up the room. 
  • We only had jars for this, but I do think plastic screw top bottles are better. The jars look very pretty, but they are a little heavy and might break if dropped. 
  • When making them hand eye co-ordination and fine motor skills were developing. 
  • You can dance with them, copy them or move after them as they roll away.
  • Play a version of eye spy and use the things in the bottle as inspiration for choreography. 

Hearts for Hopping!

  • I used an A4 bit of card and let Tiny One choose how to decorate them. We used crayons, stickers and paint. We could have made smaller ones and turned them into wands! 
  • They are also very versatile as shape, size, colour, decoration etc. can be changed. 
  • The texture of the puffy stickers is a nice addition to the game. Other textures could be used as well. 
  • They could also be used for aiming or landing pads and this would be fun for Active Armchairs
  • This would be a lovely thing for a cross-curricular approach. Each child in the class could make their own and they can bring them to dance as a magic spot or as part of a larger thing such as a long snake of hopping stones.

I enjoyed this challenge so if you have one to set us please get in contact and we’ll see what we can make! 

Related Images:

The Value of Arts

by

On Thursday 22nd February artists and interested people gathered to contemplate the value of art and to share their experiences. I went along to not only provide a workshop about Active Armchairs, but to also discover what other artists have been up to in Medway and Kent.

Valuing Art & Culture in Medway and Kent was organised by Laura King of Look Kloser and Luci Napleton from Medway Council after Laura shared her idea for a day to encourage collaboration. It all began with a chat at Medway Dance Network and snowballed from there.

I took part in Laura’s workshop where she told us how all of her sessions are open for anyone, no matter what and reminded us of the importance of pausing for participants. Georgia Smith, representing Loop Dance Company (yes, she’s also a TRS Teacher and our Adult Dance Co-ordinator, she wears many hats!), share her ideas for a cohesive approach to a dance class for children. We discussed the difference between creative dance and cross-curricular dance and came to the conclusion that it’s like a Hoover… all cross-curricular dance is creative, but not all creative dance is cross-curricular. Luci shared her experiences with EDNA and we were treated to the rare opportunity to relax and gather our thoughts.

IMG-20180227-WA0054

Everyone in the room is part of Active Armchairs. When family, friends and carers are present we can facilitate special moments for them.

Lastly was my workshop about Active Armchairs. My aim was to give everyone a flavour of what Active Armchairs is, to talk about the importance of choice and to inspire everyone with some Magic Moments. Luckily I was joined by fellow Active Armchairs facilitator, Georgie, who was able to share her favourite moments as well.

The day was a great reminder that there is a wealth of dance expertise out there. Although we do a lot of skills sharing at The Right Step, CPD and sharing is with other is always good for the soul!

In the evening we went to the hall, still at Woodlands Arts Centre, where there were tables and a big screen. Guests arrived and speakers shared their stories of collaboration. There was a great mix of people from various organisations and the general idea was to find a way to collaborate and make art happen.

Speakers were asked what they think is the value of arts and I think the resulting list is all true…

  • A sense of purpose and achievement
  • Prevents social isolation
  • Self worth
  • Opportunity for learning
  • A feeling of belonging

I know I found some opportunities for collaboration and I’m sure others there did too. I had a day of contemplation and came away buoyant.

Related Images:

Croquis Events – Goodbye

by

Croquis EventsSo for now we’ve sadly had to put Croquis Events on hold and so the pages are going to be removed from the website. We didn’t want to loose everything that’s been uploaded though so you can now click HERE for the links to the old Croquis Pages.

I had a wonderful time working with both Richard Squarecube, the original inspiration behind Croquis Events, and Marissa Mardon, who continued Croquis Events with me when Richard was unable to. What a fantastic time we had and perhaps we’ll be back someday with a one off Croquis Event!???

IMG_7211 IMAG5324 (Medium) IMG_7192

Related Images:

Croquis Event Promo

by

Our Promo Croquis Event was a great success!

10665197_292629437596252_4519272506311453351_n


Richard Squarecube of
Squarecube Artisans and I have been plotting Croquis Events for a while now. Having been unable to get them off the ground for one reason or another we are pleased to announce that, having joined forces with Sun Pier House, we now have three taster events planned for November and the official launch of monthly events will be January 2015, but more about that in a moment.

 

Yesterday evening we  were joined by a few invited artists and dancer, Clare Wilders (yes, the TRS Teacher who also blogs on our website!) for a promo session. The idea? To gain feedback, photos and video footage to make future Croquis Events excellent!

Croquis is a traditional French art form. It’s a little like life drawing, but the models move occasionally. Richard and I have taken this a step further by adding dancers. The artists have to sketch very quickly, capturing the shapes or movements they see.

There were a few nerves at first, but they were completely squashed during the first go. Artists stood ready, drawing implements in hand, someone pressed play on the iPod and Clare and I were off… very, very slowly!

“I enjoyed the taster and could have carried on for hours…it was really out of my comfort zone yet such a refreshing change to sketch quickly and with abandon, not worrying about the images being perfect nor the end result. I ended up experimenting and creating images unlike anything I have done before using unfamiliar materials (to me) such as charcoal and pastel.”
Sharon, artist

IMAG4336

The artists used various materials, including an iPad, to capture what they saw. Some used multiple pieces of paper, finishing each round with a floor covered in sketches, others draw movement upon movement and created a layered effect. Its was apparent everywhere that, whoever you are, whatever your experience, the event was inspiring.

From a dancer’s point of view Croquis Events are very self-indulgent. They are an opportunity to move however you feel like moving (slowly of course!), really getting into the moment and forgetting the stresses of the day.

As a Dancer how was the event for you?

“It was great actually, quite selfish, because it meant I could get involved in the music and express it how I felt at the time.”
Clare, Croquis Event Dancer

10698688_292632697595926_6178843446991554904_nI especially enjoyed the moments when artists moved into the space to dance. First I danced with Jo, an artist who, I’m told, will try anything. Jo’s influence made me move differently and she gave the surrounding artists further inspiration.

Isabella joined me towards the end and we focused on hand movements. It’s an unusual experience for a dancer to focus on the many ways our hands can move. We were told afterwards that, though our movements were intricate, varied and interesting, for an artists, they were a huge challenge. “Us artists don’t draw hands often, we really should” said Richard. Perhaps this is a challenge we focus on at some point!

Everyone asked when they can have another go so we’re pleased to have dates ready and set! To keep up to date and see some more photos and our video please like our brand new Facebook Page or see the Croquis Events web page.

The first three dates for your diary…
Sunday 16th November, 2-3.30pm ‘An Introduction to Croquis Events’
Sunday 23rd November, 2-3.30pm ‘Explore Croquis Your Own way’
Sunday 30th November, 2-3.30pm ‘What Can We Do With This?’

All held at Sun Pier House Gallery and Tea Room, Medway Street, Chatham, ME4 4HF

Just £15/session or £10/session if you bring your own materials.

Book one of the limited places now…
info@therightstepdc.co.uk

 

 

Related Images:

Three Events, One Exciting Day

by

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.

RichardSquareCube

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!

SadSirens
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.

IMAG3555 - Copy
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!

 

Related Images:

The Rats Bay Shindig

by

 

A cross a curricular dance workshop with Clare at The Rights Bay Shindig

A cross a curricular dance workshop with Clare at The Rats Bay Shindig

Dance yourself Dizzy!

Yes, the long awaited Rats Bay Shindig was held last weekend, launching the re-opening of the Sun Pier on the banks of the Medway. We teamed up with AMG Freedom Dance, to provide a complete melange of workshops with dance styles, taking us from one side of the globe to the other.With a gloriously sunny start to the event, children from both The Right Step and AMG Dance performed on the pier itself, taking us from balletic Mary Poppins through to funky jazz with “Upside Down”. The audience and The TRS Teachers then joined in and learned the routines. It was a fun dance by the water.
This set an eclectic tone for the entire weekend’s workshops where we travelled the globe from the bouncing pom poms of US cheerleading and fun Charleston dancing, to a tropical “Where the Wild Things Are” from the fabulous Bollywood dancing of India to the stomping, wellie-slapping Gumboot dancing from South Africa.We also enjoyed some live dance performances including the delightful “Ginny and Maude go to the Seaside” and a funky fusion from three of our TRS Teachers. One of our most lively workshops turned out to be the Active Armchairs session, where we had a huge circle of seated dancers, and Pete the security guard gave us an inspired Dick Van Dyke impression.By dusk on Sunday we had tried them all, zig-zagged the world, and our most prolific workshop participant Isabella had declared “It was
Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious!!!” …fantastic!
Richard painting Ginny and Maude at The Rats Bay Shindig

Richard painting Ginny and Maude at The Rats Bay Shindig

Artistic Flare

As well as dance, many other art forms and interests were represented at the Shindig. These included everything from, drawing and painting to T-shirt printing and Mini art. There was also some incredible edibles in the form of crepes from Crepe In Your Face and game burgers. The  Sun Pier Gallery and Tea Room was open, we really liked the cardboard piano and there were other displays as well. WOW Magazine, LV21, The KAB Coconut Shy to name a few. Every stall brought a new thing to talk and think about.
On the Sunday we were excited to see Sun Pier House artist, Richard Jeferies, set up a huge canvas a begin to paint Ginny and Maude who had performed that day!
Thank You!

It took a lot of work to bring dance to The Rats Bay Shindig and we have these people for their wonderful help…
Alix Godden (from AMG Dance)
Clare Wilders (Social Media Whizz)
Emma Perry
Georgia Smith
Lawrence Hoar
Lorraine Smith (Instantly Theatrical)
Sophie Fuller
Sophie Williams (Instantly Theatrical)
Steph Vezmar
Taigh Giles
Vicky Branton

Related Images: