The number of dancers and somatic practitioners interested in exploring the relevance of unified body-mind to health in the wider community is increasing fast, and there is public interest in what dance can offer. Yet at present, there are few resources for them to draw on. There is currently no context for either sharing or developing practice for dancers working in the fields of health and social care, nor is there adequate training for dancers seeking to enter these areas. The newly established Parkinson’s Dance network is unique in beginning to develop these resources. Although there is pioneering creative work being done around the world in dance and health there is currently no centralised archive of research in the UK.
Throughout the UK dancers are doing significant work in a broad range of contexts, dancers who have made it their life work to develop practice and yet whose experience is insufficiently recognised, documented or available to younger dancers coming up. As Dr Richard Coaten pointed out in a recent issue of Animated – there is a significant lack of training for dancers wanting to work in these fields of health and social care – and a growing body of knowledge calling out for documentation, recognition and dissemination.
Jasmine Pasch’s work with children – movement in early years and with children on the autistic spectrum, Lisa Dowler and Cath Hawkins pioneering work at Alder Hey hospital, Richard Coaten’s work with people suffering from dementia, Lucinda Jarrett and Rosetta Life doing creative work in end of life care to name but a few. There is creative movement work with people living with mental health problems from depression to eating disorders, with stroke, rehabilitation, palliative care, trauma, recovery from torture, with boy soldiers, with refugees, with mothers and babies. The list is endless. Yet significantly this work has not yet gained the recognition it deserves and rarely features in Arts and Health conferences. There is currently no forum for this to be shared or more widely applied.
The dancers of this network have come together to address this gap: to develop and articulate movement practices that enable a more informed, conscious and creative relationship to our physical self.