On the morning of the 1st October, coaches and taxis started to arrive on the Dartington Estate; we were first greeted by the Dawlish Dancers equipped with mops, brushes and marigolds ahead of their performance. Of course it was International Older Peoples Day and this time it was ambitions! Following on from a conversation with Dartington’s new Artistic Director, Bill Gee, we wanted to seize the opportunity of London based aerial company, Upswing (pictured) being in residence, and we weren’t going to let a thing like being 83 years old stop someone taking a session in aerial cocoon (an aerial discipline involving a soft fabric bag hammock). For those wanting to keep two feet firmly on the ground we had Anna Leatherdale delivering Bollywood workshops and Bernie Artuso with some singing and music making workhops. Bristol based artist Lisa May Thomas was able to start some active research for her new project leading some creative movement tasks and discussion around the themes of touch and connection.
We were delighted to welcome 40 residents from 4 of the 6 residential homes we have been working with as part of Silver Dancers programme. The all had the opportunity to share what they have been doing with their practitioner over the last 9 months. Also Dance Lab were kind enough to share some extracts of latest piece of work Archive. We were also delighted to have a visit from Dr Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes and Chair of the Commons Health Select Committee to see first hand the role that the arts, especially dance can play in the health and wellbeing sector.
A fabulous lunch was prepared by some volunteers with Dartington’s Abundant Life programme and we were serenaded with music from local musicians. Onwards for a sharing from local dance groups Sapta Dance, Tone Dance and the Dawlish Dancers. The day finished with a performance by Upswing – an exciting company of circus and aerial performers, including older contemporary dancers and trapeze artists. “What Happens in Winter” was an entertaining and arresting mix of aerial, theatre and dance treading a humorous path through the minds and bodies of two women; one aerialist and one dancer, using the lives of these physical performers as inspiration.
We would like to extend our thanks to all the practitioners, volunteers, Dartington team, the Care Home staff and all the participants who made such a memorable day…. Here’s to 2015!
Sarah Cobley, Assistant Director, Dance in Devon