Dementia Awareness Week 2017

Here at Green Candle Dance Company we have been working with older people in dance for nearly 30 years, and over the past five years we have raised the profile of high quality artistic dance activities for people with dementia. Through creative, inspiring and uplifting dance projects we bring together people with dementia through music and dance, with proven benefits to participants’ active daily living, socialisation, mental and physical health and wellbeing. We believe that everyone has the right to access dance and that public interest and demonstration of our work can help to break down preconceptions of dementia and attitudes towards the visibility of older people in our society.

 

Remember to Dance is our flagship dance and dementia programme – launched in 2013 as a two stranded project, Remember to Dance in the community, taking place weekly during term time at Oxford House in Bethnal Green, and Remember to Dance in Hospital, taking place twice weekly in the assessment unit for patients with acute dementia at Mile End Hospital.

Following a rigorous research process by the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health at Canterbury Christ Church University, alongside the initial two year programme, the report, Remember to Dance: Evaluating the impact of dance activities for different stages of dementia, was released in February 2016 and can be found at http://www.greencandledance.com/participation/reports/

The research demonstrates that dance has the potential to help address choice and control in decision making, development and maintenance of relationships, physical and mental health, wellbeing and engagement and contribution to their community for people at different stages of dementia.

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Continuing on from this two year process, with the evidence of results from ground-breaking research, we continue to run weekly Remember to Dance classes at Oxford House for people with dementia, their family and carers, who gather together to enjoy the uplifting experience of dance, live music, social interaction, artistry and creativity which stimulates the imagination and promotes overall wellbeing.

 

We spoke to the wife and principal carer of one of our regular participants, who reminded us that Remember to Dance provides an important opportunity for carers as well as participants with dementia:

Remember to Dance is a giggle, it is a place where my husband is able to keep active and, personally, it meets a need to unwind. It’s a place to form friendships and let down my hair, but most importantly it allows me to laugh!

Whether the participant has dementia or not is not of importance; through Remember to Dance, every participant shares in the laughter, enjoyment and pleasure.

Everybody knows somebody with dementia. To make those people aware of the pleasure gained and the laughter shared through Remember to Dance is vital. The environment created is very social and relaxed, there’s a sense of freedom; everyone involved is of equal importance and endless opportunities are offered for participants to excel in their movement. This equality needs to be shared with the public.

– Wife of participant with dementia, Remember to Dance weekly classes

 

Last year, as part of Dementia Awareness Week 2016, participants of Remember to Dance shared their experience in a public workshop for the first time at an interactive sharing event in Walthamstow. Members of the Remember to Dance group took part in a performance at Walthamstow Town Square in the event ‘All Together Now’, enabling the general public, friends and family to celebrate the achievements of the group members, and raise awareness of the importance of arts activities for people with dementia.

Walthamstow Dementia Awareness Week May 2016

Fergus Early, Artistic Director of Green Candle, reflected on the significance of the public presentation:

One of the more surprising results from the research is that, using a standard ACEIII cognitive test, the mean score for the community group rose from 50.8 at the start of the project to 55.3, out of a possible maximum of 100, after 2 years. On another level, I was very aware of a marked improvement shown by the group as a whole over the 2 years – their range of movement, their ability to remember sequences and their skills in recognising and executing expressive  movement were all far better  – if nothing else, this strengthens my belief that dementia shouldn’t be seen as just a slow retreat down an ever darker corridor, but we should recognise that people living with the condition can learn, gain skills and retain a valued and valuable place in society. I was very proud of our public appearance and particularly delighted when a good number of the audience jumped up and joined us on stage!

Members of the Remember to Dance group were overwhelmed by the experience and the amplified energy that the public demonstration gave to the group.

… the pleasure both the participants and audience members received was enormous! Carer, Remember to Dance

 

The benefits of programmes such as Remember to Dance find recognition through public demonstrations such as this; most significantly, these opportunities give participants an added chance to demonstrate their learning and achievements. In addition Green Candle Dance Company believes that everyone, regardless of age or ability, has a right to dance, and public demonstrations of our work can begin to change public perception and attitudes towards dementia and the artistic value of dance with older people #unitedagainstdementia #DAW2017

The reflective role of a community dance artist

Danielle Teale considers the multifaceted nature of best practice…

This spring term, Green Candle Dance Company was commissioned to deliver a project across Norfolk in collaboration with Creative Arts East for their Spirit of 2012 funded project ‘Our Day Out’. This project aims to reach older people at risk of isolation and people with dementia living in the community, along with their partners, family and carers, to engage with fun and creative dance and music activities: http://www.creativeartseast.co.uk/projects/our-day-out

 

Rural and regional touring has always been a staple of Green Candle’s performance history and participatory work is a central part of this. With our growing reputation for high quality dance delivery for older people and people with dementia, Green Candle is now increasingly in demand to develop and deliver bespoke dance projects within this field of practice across the UK.

 

In this current period of growth within the field of dance and health the focus is increasingly directed towards evidence gathering to advocate for dance as a positive intervention for the health of people living with long term conditions such as dementia. We at Green Candle have added to the body of knowledge that now exists, with our in depth research into the successful Remember to Dance programme that we deliver for people living with dementia and their carers in London – now two classes, one in Tower Hamlets and one in Redbridge.

 

However, for this project we have been interested in the nature and format of the delivery of these sessions and what the value and role is of a specialist practitioner. With a long standing commitment to high quality, specialist practice, Green Candle has always sought to develop knowledgeable and reflective practice and ensure that our dance artists represent this quality in all our participatory work.

 

We invited our Community Dance Artist Danielle Teale to discuss the multifaceted nature of the delivery of these sessions and what is required of a skilled artist working with such a diverse range of people across multiple locations…

 

 

“When reflecting on the planning and delivery of these sessions I began to recognise the sheer breadth and scope of the role I and other dance artists in my position hold when it comes to managing a delivering a class of this type. These include:

 

  • The exploration of movement with diverse bodies, experiences and needs in the room;
  • The accessibility of the activity and the use of various forms of communication through the body and verbally
  • The navigation of sensitive relationships between carers, partners, artists, and in some cases staff members;
  • The set-up of the space for maximum engagement and safety;
  • The management of the energy and atmosphere of the session and the sensitivity to shifts in dynamic and mood;
  • The use of resources such as music and props to develop that atmosphere;

 

“The role of a dance artist could be described as that of a mediator – ensuring the delicate balance between all these multifaceted layers is maintained in order to provide an experience that is fun, engaging, supportive and nurturing for all dancers, as well as safe and effective as an activity. No small task!

 

“Due to the nature of this project, (4 venues, each with 6 sessions every other week over a period of 3 months), there was time to reflect on the delivery in a much deeper way than is usually possible. In addition, I filled out a reflective log after every class – a fantastic tool that Creative Arts East have implemented in order to capture learning and build on the project and skills required over three years.

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“Some of the key things that have stayed with me within these categories I feel are worth discussing in more detail.

 

“It is a constant ebb and flow process during a dance session of this diverse nature to ensure that the challenge of moving is engaging but not overwhelming, and that achievement is possible for all members of the group. When the challenge of effective communication is at the forefront, as it often is in dementia settings, the ability to attend to each individual in the room and ensure they are achieving their fullest capability is often demanding on the dance artist.

 

“On the subject of challenge – I have often encountered a misconception that older dancers and dancers with dementia need a diluted, simple or ‘slow’ version of a dance exercise in order to achieve. However, I would recommend that challenge is an important tool to develop muscle memory, strengthen neural pathways and build confidence.

 

“For people with dementia, challenge could be defined as pushing the boundaries of physical movement capacity; enabling the contribution of ideas and improvisation; or working with new people and in new spaces that are unfamiliar. All of these things can cause anxiety, concern or distress if mismanaged, however in the dance setting where there is no right or wrong and all contributions are valid, there is no better place to introduce new challenges.

 

“Whilst these sessions in Norfolk were set up for participant and carer or partner to dance together, it is not expected that the carer has a knowledge or understanding of how to support their partner to achieve their movement potential. In fact it is a valuable aspect of the programme that the carers often attend in order to enjoy and appreciate dance for themselves, so that their care giving and supporting role can be alleviated for one hour of their day.

 

“It was really apparent to me that there are two major difficulties for a dance artist to overcome when it comes to partners or carers, and both can result in a reductive or negative expectation of what is achievable by the dancer with dementia.

 

“The first is vulnerability – the partner of a person with dementia can often be uncertain in a new setting and sensitive due to a shift in their role within the relationship or concern about how their partner will react. Ensuring the partner’s confidence is considered is a vital role for the dance artist and can often be more challenging than working with the dancer with dementia. Some carers will put up boundaries in order to protect themselves and their partner, others will stop their partner from trying for fear or negative response.

 

“This leads to the second of two challenges – control. In the new role as a carer the partner may want to reduce the potential for spontaneity in order for them to manage in a scenario which is increasingly challenging to predict and impossible to control. The result can be reductive or negative behaviour from the partner, stopping the dancer with dementia from partaking fully in the class.

 

For the dance artist, this issue can be carefully managed over time if subtle tasks are introduced where the partners move chairs, dance with other people in the group, or can begin to see that their spouse is comfortable dancing with a volunteer or the dance artist themselves. In this project it felt we were just getting to these small breakthroughs in some settings and I would suggest that consistency and longevity are key to these achievements being maintained over the long term. Trust in the dance artist can only be built up by the partner and dancer with dementia over time.

 

“Whilst both these points are pivotal to the success of the classes, there were many other considerations that arose during this project are:

 

Group Size: A small group can create intimacy but it can also lack energy. A big group can be chaotic and often results in people being overshadowed; but it can also create a powerful dynamic and vibrant energy of collectivity and togetherness.

 

Venue: Familiar venues can bring a sense of comfort but can also mean that people are less likely to sacrifice their comforts such as their favourite comfy arm chair in order to enter into the mind-set of the dance setting. New venues or settings enable the dance participant to see this as special or unique and take the activity seriously. However, unfamiliar surrounds that take a person with dementia out of their normal routine could be distressing if not handled appropriately.

 

Longevity of the group: Is this an existing group or a group of individuals coming together for dance… and if it is an existing group have they ever danced before? Whilst they may have less inhibitions when asked to do creative tasks, they may also have a lack of respect for the unique environment of the dance setting and could find it difficult to adapt to new ideas or new people. Although a group of relative strangers coming together as individuals may take a while to build in confidence and rapport, the long term impact for them could be greater as a result of the shared journey together through dance – learning and appreciating the skill and artistry of dance will bring them new perspectives shared together in the experience of the classes.

 

“This project along with many others I have delivered with Green Candle Dance Company has given me much to consider, reflect on and learn. Most importantly, a reminder of the humanity that is present in all settings when working with people, and the importance of recognising each unique person and their multiple emotional, physical and social needs within one session. Clear and honest communication and empathic understanding are at the heart of my practice and of all the work of Green Candle Dance Company – getting to know the individuals is my key to success.”

Spring Youth Gala

Dance Performance Platform

Green Candle Dance Company invites you to join us for an afternoon of exciting, new, live dance and performances by children and young people from the local community as part of the THAMES Dance Consortium Partnership programme.

Winter Gala 2015

BanglaHop! Students Performance, photography by Tracey Fahy

Tuesday 28 March 2017
2.30pm – 2.30pm
Oxford House, Bethnal Green, E2 6HG
Complimentary refreshments

Tickets are FREE and include entry to both the Spring Youth Gala, and Dance in Process photography exhibition. General public ticket reservations – please contact Vicki Busfield: vicki@greencandledance.com | 020 773907722. School students or family please book via performers’ schools

 

Dance in Process

A Green Candle Dance company cross-arts collaborative dance and photography project with images by and of students from BanglaHop! Youth Dance Company from Mulberry School for Girls, Redlands Primary School and Smithy Street Primary Schools.

Photography Workshop 2017

Photography Workshop 2017 led by Rachel Cherry

Photography Exhibition
21st – 30th March 2017
Oxford House, Lower Gallery

AFTER THE SPRING YOUTH GALA, JOIN US FOR A PRIVATE VIEWING: 28 MARCH 2017, 4PM ONWARDS WITH FREE REFRESHMENTS AND A CHANCE TO MEET THE ARTISTS

For any further information please contact Vicki Busfield: vicki@greencandledance.com | 020 773907722.

Participation and Communications Volunteer Opportunities for the summer term 2017

An opportunity to gain valuable experience within a leading community dance company working with children, young people and older adults.

 

At Green Candle we believe in providing professional development opportunities and experiences for dance artists new to the field, or looking to enhance their knowledge. We are currently looking for two participation and communications volunteers to join our team for the summer term 2017. This is a unique chance for artists to gain practical learning and leadership skills in the community arts. We are seeking enthusiastic and motivated individuals who can assist in the delivery of weekly sessions for a variety of groups, and support the office with communications and general administrative support.

These two new roles are suitable for those interested in developing skills working with children and young people, older people and those with dementia. Candidates will assist classes led by the Green Candle team at our home in Bethnal Green as well as a in a variety of settings in the community, including care homes, day centres, nursing homes and schools.

Both candidates will need to be available for two days a week from Tuesday Thursday and Friday consistently throughout the summer term, which runs from week commencing 24th April to end of July 2017 (specific dates will be confirmed nearer the time).

The opportunity to assist will offer the successful candidates the chance to experience dance delivery in a variety of contexts. Due to the nature of the environment where our dance sessions take place, we expect the candidates to be open-minded and have a warm friendly persona.

Candidates must hold a current enhanced DBS certificate. This is an unpaid position; however, the Company will cover travel expenses within London.

If you are interested in applying for this position, please send your CV and a covering letter outlining your reason for applying to vicki@greencandledance.com or call 0207 739 7722 for more information.

Application deadline: 12pm Monday 20th March 2017

Interviews: Friday 31st March 2017 by invitation only at Oxford House, Bethnal Green.

www.greencandledance.com

Getting some fun out of life!

Green Candle Dance Company turn 30: an interview with Jean Harwood

As part of Green Candle’s 30th birthday celebrations we have taken this opportunity to speak with some of the inspiring people who have been involved with the company, both past and present, and to gain an insider’s view of their experiences. We felt it only fitting for the first of these conversations to be with Jean Harwood, the longest standing member of the Green Candle Senior Dance Company, our performance group for people aged 55+, which she joined over twenty years ago. Jean is also a current member of the company’s Board of Trustees.philip-grey1

Image of Jean Harwood (bottom left) and the very first project for the original Green Candle Senior Dancers in 1995

Jean remembers when she began dancing with the Senior Dancers in 1995. She would bring her mother, who had Alzheimer’s, to the group. During the session, Jean would enjoy taking part in exercising while learning a new routine and socialising with the other members of the group. When asked what she would say to someone who was considering joining the Green Candle Senior Dancers she responded saying “You go, I loved it!”

Jean vividly remembers two of her favourite performances with the Green Candle Senior Dancers. The first was a seated dance entitled Getting Some Fun Out Of Life, first shown in 2007 with choreography by Fergus Early and to music by Billie Holiday. She still remembers the choreography to this day and gave us an impromptu performance when we met with her! A second performance she recalls with great detail was called Apple Core (2012), also choreographed by Fergus to music by Gerry Mulligan. Jean explained in detail how the movement followed the process of making apple cider. First, they had to plant the seed to grow the tree, they then picked the apples, made the cider, drank the cider, got a bit drunk and started all over again. The performance focused on portraying these actions through movement and letting the audience use their imagination. Speaking of this performance, Jean comments, “I wouldn’t have missed that, it was a big part of my life. And I loved it.”img_4998

Jean Harwood in rehearsals for ‘Postcards from East London’ in 2011

A love of music and dance has always been a part of Jean’s life from childhood and still is today. Piano and tap lessons early on in life instilled in her a strong sense of rhythm and musicality that has stayed with her; even after being evacuated from London as a child during the war she continued to take classes supported by the host family that took her in. Being part of the Green Candle Senior Dancers has brought her a sense of joy and satisfaction, as she learns new routines and performs with the Company she feels, ‘It all connected, all these things I did as a kid helped me.’ Dancing has become a part of living for her.

Jean continues to be a part of Green Candle Dance Company and expressed, “I never want to lose touch with it. Never. I think it’s fantastic.” We are grateful to have you Jean and for the many years of dedication to Green Candle Dance Company, we thank you.

Assistant Dance Artist and Mentoring Opportunity

Creative Journeys Programme:

We are seeking a dance practitioner who has community dance experience but would like to expand their practice to include working with older people. This is a unique paid opportunity to gain valuable experience whilst working alongside experienced dance practitioners from Green Candle Dance Company 
This opportunity is open to dancers who either currently live, work or have studied in Essex.

Artist’s fee: £100 per day (inclusive of travel expenses)
Please note that this will be a freelance contract and you will be responsible for your own Public Liability Insurance, Tax and National Insurance.

Creative Journeys Programme Context:
The Creative Journeys dance programme delivered by Green Candle Dance Company is part of a larger cultural and research programme that focuses on older people who live in care homes or attend day care sessions spread across 8 venues throughout Essex, and involving 4 innovative cultural organisations including Age Exchange, Magic Me, Orchestras Live in partnership with Sinfonia Viva and Green Candle Dance Company.
The project will examine how these activities provide opportunities for older people to interact with each other and engage with the wider community. It will also examine how the activities influence the caring relationships between older people and those who work in the care homes.

Assistant Dance Artist Role:
The successful assistant dance artist will work alongside an experienced artist from Green Candle Dance Company, assisting with the delivery, planning and evaluation of the programme. One on one mentoring sessions will be provided over the course of the programme, as well as practical training and advice within the sessions.
The assistant will receive a bursary place on Green Candle’s two day Moving into Maturity workshop – Leading Dance with Older People & Dance and Dementia – at Oxford House in Bethnal Green.
The weekly workshops will take place during the day between 10am and 4pm and be held in a rural location in Epping Forest District. It is advisable that applicants should have a suitable mode of transport as the venues are not in walking distance of the tube.

Candidates must have a current DBS and be able to commit to attending every Friday for 15 weeks from 28th April to 4th August 2017 as well as the compulsory Moving into Maturity two day workshop on 4th and 5th April 2017.

Key Dates and Timescale
Deadline for Applications:   17th March 2017
Short listing:                            Week beginning 20th March 2017
Invitation only interviews:    30th March 2017
Artist Preparation day:          Moving into Maturity CPD 4th & 5th April 2017

APPLICATION PROCESS | HOW TO APPLY
Please email vicki@greencandledance.com for an application form with the heading Creative Journeys Programme – Assistant Dance Artist in the email subject line.

Applications must be returned by 17th March 2017 together with:

– A CV (including proof of living, studying or previous work in Essex)
– A covering letter explaining:-

  • your previous community dance / workshop leader experience
  • why you would like to work with older people
  • how this mentoring opportunity will help your career
  • what you hope to gain as an dance artist

 

SELECTION
A short list will be drawn up on the week beginning 20th March and these artists will be invited to attend an interview at Green Candle Dance Company’s base in Bethnal Green, London.

Invitation only interviews will be held on 30th March at Oxford House, Bethnal Green. (Please note we can only interview on this date due to availability of the interview panel)

Moving into Maturity, bookings open for 2017 course

A two day professional development workshop: Leading Dance with Older People and Dance & Dementia

4th & 5th April 2017

Back by popular demand Green Candle Dance Company is pleased to announce bookings are open for Moving into Maturity 2017, a course for those interested in leading dance for older people and dance for dementia.

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Moving into Maturity is a specially designed introductory professional development course for people who are working or intending to work with older people. Suitable for professional dance artists, health care professionals and students, this course will introduce you to some of the key skills needed to lead dance sessions, both seated and standing, with older people and people with dementia. Attendees are welcome to take part in the two days or join us for one of the days – depending on their interests.

Both days will include the unique opportunity to share in the knowledge and experience of participants who regularly take part in dance activities with Green Candle – the Green Candle Senior Dancers on day one, and the participants of the Remember to Dance programme for people with early to mid-stage dementia and their companions and carers on day two. This session will be accompanied by live music.

 

When: 4th and 5th April 2017, 10am-4.30pm

Where: Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, London E2 6HG

Fees: One day – £70 / £55 concession; Two days – £120 / £95 concession (students, unemployed, 60+)

Thank you for a great training day on Wednesday, it was very interesting and informative. I particularly enjoyed the practical session with the Remember to Dance group, what an inspirational they all are! I was aware the fusion of live music and flow of movement created a dynamic and holistic approach allowing individuals to immerse them selves quite spontaneously and with much enjoyment.

I shall certainly be integrating my learning into further development of my dance practise and workshop delivery.

 

Day one: Leading Dance with Older People, Tuesday 4th April 2017

Led by Fergus Early, participants will take part in practical sessions for older people as delivered by Green Candle (standing and seated), including warm ups, stretching, improvisation, a choreographed sequence and cool downs. A wide range of discussion about ageing and the empowerment of older people will be facilitated.

Day two: Dance and Dementia, Wednesday 5th April 2017

Our second day will address Dementia Awareness led by experts from East London NHS Foundation Trust – an Occupational Therapist specialising in dementia care and an Integrated Care Mental Health Liaison Nurse. In addition Fergus Early, will focus on the specific application of dance sessions for people living with dementia.

To find out further details and book a place contact:
Community and Education Manager, Vicki Busfield: vicki@greencandledance.com, Tel: 0207 739 7722 

Moving into Maturity is an excellent introduction to Green Candle’s Diploma Course ‘Leading Dance with Older People’ accredited at Level 3 and running for 6 weekends between September 2017 – March 2018

Looking Back Looking Forward

Fergus Early reviews 30 years of Green Candle Dance Company

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30 years old! – a good moment to reflect, though it is never easy to find the time for reflection: even as I write this, I’m conscious of the two fat grant applications which need completing. Even so, 30 years is quite a stretch for a small arts company and represents more than half of my professional life.

 

What does this survival represent? Obviously perseverance bordering at times on sheer dogged pig-headedness, a degree of luck, light-footed flexibility, above all, the sheer quality of people who have worked with or served the company. To mention some: our first administrator, Teresa Watkins (now creative director of RDF Media), General Managers Jackie Alexis, Katy Spicer (now CEO English Folk Song and Dance Society), Moira Sinclair (now CEO Paul Hamlyn Foundation) and, currently, our long-standing and superb administrator, Suzanne Firth.

Our board, too has been blessed with a remarkable membership over the years: Chairs such as Merryl Cross and Maggie Semple who gave valuable leads on our equalities policies and practices; Peter Brinson, who gave wonderful support right up to his final illness; Mary Prestidge, Chris Thomson, Naseem Khan and our recently retired but tireless Chair, Chris Phipps – just a few of the remarkable allies we have been lucky enough to work with.

As for artists – performers and teachers – there have been too many to credit them all here, but here are a few, all associated with important steps forward in the company’s development: in the early days, Janice Galloway (now a board member), Pearl Jordan, Nigel Warrack, Lati; later Rrenford Fagan, Rosie Kay, Chantelle Nassari (possibly the first wheelchair user contracted as a performer in a dance company); the wonderful composer-performer-musicians who established and maintained our practice of using live and original music – Sally Davies, James Thomas, Will Embliss and Martina Schwarz; special mentions for Marie Lawrence, Will Palmer and Jreena Green, who all served the company as wonderful performers and teachers over more than 10 years. Other great teachers and organisers include Chantal Bardouille, our current staff members Vicki Busfield and Danielle Teale and perhaps most influential of all, Rachel Elliott (now Education Director of English Folk Dance and Song Society) who, in her 13 years with the company established sound and comprehensive educational policies and practices and, among many initiatives, conceived and directed the annual Deaf Dance Summer School in collaboration with Sadler’s Wells for 9 successive years. These are just a few of the people who allowed us to survive and thrive through (sometimes) thick and (often) thin.

Our journey has all along been informed by a simple but far-extending belief: that everyone has a right to dance but many are denied access to it. Our mission has been to bring the opportunity to learn, watch and practise dance to as many people as possible, and particularly to those with least access to it. In practice this has meant directing our work to children and young people, older adults, people living with disabilities, sensory impairments and long-term health conditions. These parameters were set within a year of the company’s foundation and have scarcely altered, even while our approach and methods have changed in emphasis and design.

When I set up Green Candle at Chisenhale Dance Space in 1987, its strap line was ‘East London’s community dance company’ and, with support from the arts departments of Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham, I did my best to embed the company in the East End. Massive funding cuts to local authorities followed (what’s new?), the arts officers all left and it became apparent that there was no longer the support we needed to concentrate purely, or even mainly on East London. At this time we were touring productions aimed at particular audiences – children, young people and older people, and, after a couple of successful national tours, the Arts Council gave us RFO (Regularly Funded Organisation) status as a national touring company – a status we maintained for the following nine years.

In the meantime, and initially off the back of workshops that accompanied shows, we were developing a distinct methodology for leading dance sessions with older people (this work scarcely existed before we began it). Through the 1990s and early 2000s our programme of participation grew and grew, both with young people in schools and colleges and with older people. In 1995 we initiated our over 60s performance group, the Green Candle Senior Dancers (originally known as the Gillespie Group) – probably only the second such group after Sadler’s Wells’ Company of Elders.

Other milestones included ‘tales from the citadel’ a middle scale touring production with a cast of older dancers, including the 85 year old Jane Dudley, which featured in Dance Umbrella 1996.  ‘On the Road to Baghdad’, a 3 year project centred around an adaptation of a book of the same name by the Turkish-American writer Güneli Gün, culminating in a week’s performance on the main stage of the newly rebuilt Sadler’s Wells Theatre, converted into the round for the only time in its history. The cast of over 100 included professional dancers, actors, musicians and singers and a large ‘community’ cast, many of whom were Turkish. ‘Home’, a co-production with 1st Framework Theatre, deposited a core professional cast of musicians, dancers and designers in 5 empty buildings around the country for 10 days each to flesh out a skeleton performance with large numbers of local people of all ages and abilities

I have already mentioned the Deaf Dance Summer Schools. Rachel Elliott’s legacy was also seen in ‘Listening Eyes’ (2004), a show fully accessible to both deaf and hearing children. A subsequent show for children of early years, ‘No Fear!’ (2013) was also choreographed with integrated sign language; further children’s shows will all be deaf-friendly.

img_8791_editPhotography by Rachel Cherry, Get Moving project funded by Mayor of London and Voltarol

Recent years have seen developments in our work with older people. Throughout the company’s history, we have worked with groups of older people, some of whom have had dementia. For the last 5 years, we have increasingly been approached to work with discrete groups of people with dementia. The value of arts activities for people living with dementia (particularly singing) has a considerable history. Dance and music activities are increasingly being recognised as valuable interventions in this field and research – among which the 2 year study of our own ‘Remember to Dance’ project by the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health – (report found on our website) providing more and more evidence of the efficacy of dance in increasing well-being, quality of life and even cognitive ability. Our diploma course, accredited at Level 3, Leading Dance for Older People, is another important initiative and its fourth cohort is currently in mid-course.

For me, looking back is pleasurable, especially in remembering friends who worked with us long ago. It also inspires forward movement, old ideas springing anew in different forms, new ideas reflecting back earlier concepts. Something that this retrospection has made apparent to me is how important it has been to remain small. It can be irritating, this smallness, when ideas we have nurtured are appropriated and exploited by larger organisations, or when the level of funding we can attract is not enough for us to do our work as well as we could, but such considerations are outweighed by our flexibility, by how close we all are (even volunteers) to the heart of the processes we are involved in and by the humanity we can maintain within our company and, we hope, with all those we work with.

Fergus Early, Artistic Director

Green Candle Dance Company is 30!

Happy New Year from the team at Green Candle Dance Company. It’s 2017 and it’s a big year for us as we turn 30! We’re celebrating throughout 2017 – taking a look back at our performances and projects, and the dancers and participants who have connected with us along the way.

 

Green Candle Dance Company has constantly evolved throughout our 30 years and we stay relevant by connecting directly with our communities and staying firmly rooted in our belief that everyone has the right to practice, watch and participate in dance.

 

Join us as we give you a snapshot into the multiplicity of past and present work of Green Candle Dance Company. We will be reflecting on our successes with messages from the people who have contributed to making Green Candle Dance Company what it is today. You will see our archive memories and messages from Green Candle friends on social media with the hashtag #30greenmemories. In addition we will have a whole host of activities and a big celebratory event in September. Join us in celebrating our birthday with the hashtag #30greencandles

 

We look forward to celebrating with you!

~ The Green Candle Team ~

Round up of 2016

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2016 has been a busy and exciting year for the team at Green Candle Dance Company; all topped off at the end of this year with Artistic Director Fergus Early being awarded honorary lifetime membership of People Dancing.

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Pictures Left to Right: Top row: BanglaHop! Youth Dance Company , Remember to Dance, Get Moving.
Bottom row: Green Candle Senior Dancers, Sagacity! 2016 workshop , Moving into Maturity CPD.

This year we’ve been up and down the country presenting at conferences, seminars and discussion groups. We’ve led participatory workshops, presentations and professional development from Norfolk to Taunton to Warwickshire; working with a wide variety of organisations including the National Care Forum, Pavilion Dance South West, Creative Arts East, Aesop and Age of Creativity to name a few. Our roots remain firmly grounded in the East London community of Tower Hamlets where we continue to  provide life-affirming dance opportunities in response to the needs of the local people. Our focus on dance as a tool to promote lifelong wellbeing runs through all our projects and we are proud to be a pioneer of evidence-based dance and health initiatives including our research into the impact of dance for people with dementia in partnership with Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health [see our Remember to Dance report on our website]. 2016 has also seen the welcome addition of Community Dance Artist Danielle Teale to the team, who has brought to the company a wealth of knowledge, experience and passion for high quality community dance. She has hit the ground running delivering on a variety of dance for health projects and developing our intergenerational and schools work.

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Pictures Left to Right: First annual BanglaHop! dance photography exhibition at Oxford House; Get Moving intergenerational project at Central and Cecil Trust’s Link House.

BanglaHop! Dance & Photography 

This year our BanglaHop! Youth Dance Company based at Mulberry School was involved in the first annual BanglaHop! Dance Photography project and exhibition. The students took part in photography workshops capturing their own images during dance rehearsals, which were later exhibited in the Oxford House gallery with a live performance by the group during the opening reception.

This successful project  will be expanded in 2017 to incorporate two Primary Schools culminating in a THAMES Consortium dance showcase at Oxford House on March 28th.

‘Get Moving’ Intergenerational Project

Green Candle delivered two celebratory intergenerational dance and live music events  at the end of a three month project in two Central and Cecil Care Homes and two Primary Schools in Merton borough. As a staff member put it, this project was

“probably the most inspirational thing I have ever seen whilst working in care”.

Over 90 participants (younger & older) came together to explore dance movement ideas that evolved from participants’ own experiences and shared stories, promoting social interaction amongst the generations and wider community cohesion.

Green Candle Senior Dancers

It has been a very creative year for our Senior Dance Company who took a lead role in co-choreographing the in-depth dance ‘Four Sea Interludes’ alongside Fergus Early. The piece has been performed at many different venues including the Cally Fest Big Dance Bus, Sutton House, Age UK East London and our own Sagacity! festival.

Sagacity! festival

Sagacity! 2016 our annual two day festival of dance for and by older people was a huge success, with fully booked Dance on Film taster workshops and  unique older dance companies performing at Oxford House.

“Sagacity gets better each year“ ”It was wonderful! Inspiring – imaginative and energising ..!!”

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Left to Right: Sagacity! workshop, Remember to Dance participants at Moving into Maturity workshop

Remember to Dance

Our flagship Remember to Dance class for people with dementia and their carers in Tower Hamlets goes from strength to strength. A highlight for the group this year was performing for the first time in public at Waltham Forest’s ‘All Together Now’ celebration as part of Dementia Awareness Week in May 2016. The project has also expanded to a second venue in Redbridge, taking place weekly at Elderberries Day Centre.

Older Men Moving

It’s been great to see participants progress and continue to enjoy our Older Men Moving sessions at Mayfield House Day Centre specifically designed for older Somali men. A temporary venue change  due to redevelopment of the centre, meant we were able to provide an opportunity for other Tower Hamlets residents who attend Riverside Day Centre, to take part in the project in the autumn term.

Professional Development & Training

Our third cohort successfully passed the level 3 OCNLR accredited units to achieve their Green Candle Diploma in Leading Dance with Older People and in October we welcomed the new intake of students for 2016-17 who join us from as far away as Switzerland!

Moving into Maturity ran in April; a two day introductory workshop on leading dance with older people and, new for 2016, we introduced a Dance and Dementia specific day in collaboration with East London NHS Foundation Trust.

Conferences & Events

This year we’ve presented and given workshops at high profile events and conferences around the country including:
– Aesop’s first Arts and Health Conference, February
– English Folk Dance and Song Society’s, Inclusive Folk Dance Conference, June
– Care England’s Care Home Open Day, July
– Dementia, Arts and Wellbeing Network (DAWN) – two day research based workshop, October
– National Care Forum Managers Conference, November

You can keep up to date with our projects on our News Page or click on these links for more information about Professional Development & Training or Participation projects

 

Green Candle Dance Company is turning 30!
We’re delighted to be celebrating our 30th Birthday in 2017 with a whole host of activities, projects and a celebratory event in September. Follow us on social media to stay connected and to find out about ways you can get involved!

Some of our highlights for 2017 include hosting the hugely popular Sagacity! festival for the fifth year running in July and the second annual BanglaHop! Dance and Photography exhibition which will be even bigger and better, with the dancers performing in a Youth Dance platform taking place at Oxford House in March. Our popular two day CPD course Moving into Maturity also returns in April.

Green Candle believe that everyone has the right to practice, watch and participate in dance. We are proud to remain a leader in pioneering community dance that’s relevant to our community, and celebrating all that dance offers for wellbeing, social connectivity and fun!

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

The Green Candle Team