Recently Xpress-Yourself have focused their work on delivering dance workshops in residential care settings. In this field of work it is the smallest of things that are momentous, a tapping finger, a dancer who stays awake throughout the session when usually they would be dosing or that dancer whose face lights up when they recognise the music. All are indicators of engagement and enjoyment.
Xpress-Yourself works inclusively but most of the dance workshops delivered in residential settings are seated. The workshops promote the obvious benefits of stimulating the brain and getting the body moving but most importantly the dance workshops can be a vehicle to developing social interactions, promoting individual expression and exploring an individual’s sense of self.
Primarily in all workshops engagement and enjoyment are the main objectives however magic moments are frequent and joyous. In a recent workshop the group were using foam batons as a percussion instrument tapping the batons, creating rhythms and enjoying the sensory experience the activity provided. One lady with quite advanced dementia sat and watched the session unfold contently until Faye started to tap her table her with a baton. She slowly looked up with her eyes looking intrigued. Faye handed her a baton and the pair of them took it in turns to create different rhythms. Her smile started to beam and it was as if she was enjoying having a non-verbal conversation and having the opportunity to really connect with someone in a positive way. For that individual so many positive outcomes had been achieved, using her gross motor skills to hold the baton, she was concentrating, she was connected in the same moment as another individual, she was giving sustained eye contact and most importantly she was happy.
Dance presents the opportunity to communicate non-verbally which means it is not threatening to those whose speech is now incoherent. Minimal movement can promote meaningful expression as well as the opportunity to connect with carers, friends and family.Given the opportunity and time everyone can be a dancer.
‘Magic, moments filled with love’
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