Fresh off the plane from a summer travelling around Europe and South East Asia and straight into action in Llandrindod Wells. I’m Kayleigh, recent Roehampton University Dance Studies graduate and your new Powys Dance apprentice practitioner. Day 2 of the job and the Powys dance team were out to attend a Dance in Health Care Training Day. Being quite the blogging enthusiast I thought I would get underway with my first post, and my experience down at the Ffwrnes in Llanelli seemed like the perfect opportunity. Delivered by Arts Care Gofal Celf, Carmarthen and Rubicon Dance, todays training day witnessed a fruitful turnout. Bringing together not only a great range of community dance providers across Wales but also several students and professionals across different art disciplines, as well as individuals from the health sector. Professions aside, we were each present for the same shared reason; to find out where dance in mental health in Wales is situated today and the actions or possibilities that we, as providers, could contribute to the on-going crisis for care.
With introductory talks by Dr Rowena Matthew, Chris Ryan and Lucinda Jarrett, the morning gave us a contextualisation for dance in health and the current approaches being taken. Jarrett provided an insightful outlook outlining how now more than ever providers are having to justify the deeper benefits of dance, other than the fitness related advantages. Furthermore, the importance of knowing how to articulate these benefits is becoming central to how we draw up our concluded results.
After lunch it was time for our first workshop choice of the day. With a topic very close to my heart, having witnessed the long-term effects, I chose to attend the Dance in Stroke rehabilitation workshop. The session was led by Chris Thompson, director of creative teaching and learning at The Place. Thompson led us through a series of exercises that he would undergo with patients who would have suffered from a stroke attack. Both stimulating and enjoyable, the tasks combined a mixture of both imagery and touch related exercises. As much as they are aimed toward improving mobility which is often a key factor affected due to a stroke, the primary focus of these particular exercises are to encourage artistic expression not to focus on the negative aspects of the stroke itself.
Workshop number 2 provided a shift in energy as Kirstie Richardson introduced us to dance in adolescent mental health care. Richardson introduced us to certain methods used to encourage creativity when working with a younger age range. Confidence, self-esteem, emotions and acceptance were just some of the issues discussed that are inherent in teenagers and how we can encourage a healthy balance to boost self-expression and well-being throughout these sessions.
Other workshops taking place that day included Dance in Dementia care by Nicola Jacobson and Dance in End of Life Care taken by Lucinda Jarret. Each of these sessions also received positive response from the rest of the Powys Dance team.
Summing up, the day proved to be both an insightful and inspiring outlook into dance in mental health. Being a recent graduate having just left an academic setting after 3 years of study, the day was highly refreshing to see the benefits of dance in a completely new context. I’m sure everyone who attended, no matter how much previous experience had under their belts, took away some valuable information that we could all incorporate into our own practise.