This week has passed in whirlwind. I feel like I am beginning to find my feet a little. On Thursday I took part in a ‘Falls Prevention’ training day as part of the Best Foot Forward Project. This project is aimed at preventing elderly people, with Dementia or Parkinson’s from falling. During the introduction I learnt some shocking facts:
1 in every 10 ambulance call outs are due to falling.
Every 5 hours someone dies as a result of a fall.
After a first fall, there is a 60% chance of falling again.
Approximately, 50, 000 people in the county of Devon fall, each year.
You can see, just from these four basic statistics that something is needs to be done. Dance in Devon, is trialling dance for ‘Falls Prevention’ classes. These are informed by two research bases; ‘Fame’ and ‘Otago’. These programmes, when followed for 50 hours over 38 weeks, can reduce the risk of falling by 54% (Fame) and 35% (Otago). One of the problems with traditional falls prevention exercise classes is, they’re boring! The exercises were demonstrated to the group yesterday and shockingly, usually the class does not use any music! The dance practitioners that go out in our community have transformed these exercises into a fun and theatrical dance class! Ideas were shared and trialled yesterday- from dramatic entrances to a ball or party, to a shopping themed exercise aimed at strengthening muscles, enabling rotation and of course, balance.
The training lasted from 10am-4pm, and in this time, we covered the different kinds of movements we need to deliver and how we will evaluate progress. Also a short warm-phrase was created and learnt by each delivering practitioner, so that improvements of the participant could be more easily monitored weekly.
Attik Youth Dance, run by Benjamin Dunks, also started this week, in Studio 6. I supported the session, and I have to say, it was absolutely delightful! Having done work experience with Attik Dance two years ago, it was really lovely to catch up with Ben again. What always strikes me about Ben, is his sense of confidence in children. One girl stated in his class ‘I am too trained’. This was in relation to an improvisation task that Ben had suggested as the beginning of the warm up. He encouraged her to give it a go. This statement made me think that so many children are taught steps and trained in a certain way, and that somehow this does not encourage their creativity.
Ben reassured the youth group at the start of every improvisation exercise, that ‘It might get hard, and you have to push through that.’ Such an ‘adult’ piece of advice, yet the children, again rose to the challenge. Halfway through the 3 minutes of ‘move with the quality of silk’ improvisation score, I was struggling. I looked around. The other participants seemed to not have any trouble at all. They moved dynamically, with the exact movement and quality of the silk. It was incredible to watch. The act of improvising seemed to open their minds completely, and their movement became more organic, more the essence of them and not the dance they were trained in beforehand.
Ben asked us to choreograph solos using improvisations around the ‘quality of silk’ and also ‘quality of carrier bag’. From there, we learnt a partner’s dance and merged them together into duets. My partner was unused to choreographing; but was so natural at it! She considered the speed of each of our movements, our placement in the space, and in relation to each other, and our levels. The duet we created was really beautiful- and I barely choreographed any of it, only hinting at aspects to consider.
Ben is spot on with the ethos of this youth group. The way forward, is to let the children be creative, let them make work, because what they create is innovative, organic and beautiful.