In Mature Company is a three-year project, which will work with nine care homes to explore the impact of dance and music in reducing loneliness and isolation of residents living with dementia. I hadn’t yet attended a session so I was looking forward to getting out of the office!
I have visited many care homes in the past as a volunteer and have enjoyed them, but sometimes the busy environment difficult. Questions would race around my head: what are you ‘allowed’ to do; how do you respect someone’s personal space and choice in a large group; how do you visit one person when you are aware that there are many more people who are lonely and would value one to one contact, what do I talk about?
Yet the session at Seacroft felt very different from my previous experience. Yorkshire Dance have always embodied the test and learn approach of Time to Shine. In Mature Company was developed using learning from previous work. The team at Yorkshire Dance continually reflect on their professional practise and adapt accordingly:
“We often started with a plan – using lots of words to explain things – which left some artists feeling stressed. Learning to be ‘in the moment’ with people and be responsive to individual people enabled the plan to dissolve and a new more fluid approach to emerge.”
The sensitivity and adaptability of the sessions was evident to me from the start. The atmosphere created by the three very special artists was gentle and calming. The artists are specialists in non-verbal communication; they demonstrate the ability to move with people and be present in the moment. Skills which I personally believe are undervalued, yet the effects of which are wonderful.
“I’ve been learning/developing different ways to communicate, to be together and to reach people. Silence can be active rather than passive - sometimes in silence we make connections – it’s powerful just to hold someone’s hand.”
(Reflections from an artist in the project)
The whole hour was led at a respectful pace. Sometimes people left and sometimes they stayed. Residents were encouraged to participate and engage with the music and movements, but at a level and pace which was right for them. We went from gentle acoustics to reggae, mixed with a bit of Bob Marley. What more can you ask for?!
I felt privileged to be invited to the session and to have been involved in the project since the start. Thanks to Adie Nivison, Kirsty Arnold, Tora and Will Fletcher for allowing me to come along and participate. Also to the team at Seacroft Grange for working with Yorkshire Dance to create such a special project.
Time to Shine Programme Manager (Learning)