Come Dance with Me

(Above) Come Dance with Me participants enjoy the physical and social benefits of dance.

The infectious laughter within the group keeps the rhythm of the class humming along

Tiina Alinen, Come Dance with Me workshop facilitator.

About Come Dance with Me

Come Dance with Me is a two-hour long workshop, held at The Grange Hall in Brisbane, that uses dance to bring joy and stimulate the minds of people with dementia.

Recently we spoke to workshop facilitator and professional dance artist Tiina Alinen to learn more about creative dance and how it embraces inclusivity.

Tiina brings with her thirty years of experience in community, creative and professional dance practice. Her professional purpose is to value people and connect with people through the language of movement and dance. Tiina has a diverse range of experience working with communities in community arts projects in regional, urban and remote Queensland communities as well as national and international communities. Her experience includes working with the deaf community on the Sunshine Coast toward a choreographic work supported by Arts Queensland and performed by Expressions Dance Company entitled ‘Language Rhythms’. 

Can you describe what it is like to join in on a Come Dance With Me class?

The class structure is broken up into five sections. They are: Connection; Warm-up; Nourishment; Theme and Closure. The class is two hours in length and we have found the best time to begin is 10.00 am in the morning. We recommend having only 12 people per class inclusive of six people living with dementia and six enablers.

What does creative dance mean?

Creative dance offers the participant experiences that can reveal their inner self. Using movement as the communication tool, participants are able to explore other ways to express themselves. In creative dance, there is no wrong way, only your way.

By using the tools of improvisation, touch, music, tactile materials, voice and movement, a creative dance workshop opens up a world of ‘in the moment’ physical and emotional experiences. The beauty of creative dance is how it embraces inclusivity and how the movement language comes from the participants.

What is the most rewarding part of working with dancers in the sessions?

In the ‘Come Dance With Me’ program I enjoy watching participants lose themselves in their dancing. Personalities come out to play in an environment where everything is possible. Seeing faces, especially eyes come alive when their movement ideas are embraced, is a joy to watch. The infectious laughter within the group keeps the rhythm of the class humming along.

When we have a guest or visitor join us in class, afterwards they comment that they were not aware that anyone had dementia in the group.

What do you hope the dancers will gain from Come Dance with Me? 

I wish for them what I wish for everyone. The opportunity to ‘enjoy the moment’ and feel all of who you all in that moment and to embrace all of who you are. I have comments from participants living with dementia, that they feel like they use to be in my class (before dementia). They have found themselves again in the dancing.

How did the idea for this class come about?

I had the good fortune of meeting both Beverley Giles and Christine Bryden when I was leading a dance workshop for MADE and they were participants. Christine had spoken with Beverley about how the content and approach of my workshop suited her and then Beverley approached me about leading workshops specifically for people living with dementia.

As I have experience in working with a diverse range of communities, I welcomed the opportunity to work with Beverley Giles and Christine Bryden in their area of expertise. My area of expertise is dance and how it is a powerful tool for inclusion. I strongly believe that dance engages and empowers people through   communication of a different kind. For thirty years I have used the terms ‘the embodied book’ and ‘listen with your eyes’ to explain the physical communication we have in our bodies.

Dance has always being my communication tool and how I best communicate my feelings and idea’s. The Come Dance With Me program is a very good fit for my skill set and diverse experience.

What has been the best highlight of Come Dance with Me so far?

For me, it would be the opportunity to be with other people who value the importance of personhood and being ‘in the moment’. I have discovered that people who live with dementia are my kind of people. They can feel your spirit.

For participants, I would imagine it is the opportunity to be freely themselves without judgment and exclusion. This is the power of creative dance and community arts practice.

What has been the biggest challenge?

It is time to get some serious money behind this model and train other trainers so more people living with dementia can benefit and begin living their life to the fullest. The participants in ‘Come Dance With Me’ with Christine Bryden are rewriting the dementia book and those of us who do not have this expertise, need to take notice and listen to the experts.

Call 1800 100 500 to learn more about Come Dance With Me, or call Kerry on (07) 3895 8200 if you would like to sponsor the program as a state-wide initiative. A very warm thank you to the Queensland Callers Association for helping to fund the next session of Come Dance with Me in 2015.