International Participatory Dances
International Participatory Dances
Beatrice Allegranti Dance Theatre has established an international programme of Participatory Dances for people living with dementia, their families and healthcare professionals. The company have started working in Norway and are available for residencies worldwide.
Commissioned by Festpill-Kollektivet, Festpillene i Bergen, Bergen International Festival and the Socially Engaged Arts project at the University of Bergen, the company visited two care homes in Bergen, Norway, in May 2018. The work involved introducing day care and live-in residents a basic structure of movement and sonic material that we have evolved in London. What followed was an improvisatory dance led by participants and facilitated by Beatrice Allegranti in collaboration with Jill Halstead (composer) and company dancers: Luke Birch, Sabrina Gargano, Takeshi Matsumoto, Aneta Zwierzynska. Red Cross Dementia Care Home, Bergen.
Reflections from Norway
“An elderly man, that reminds me of my late father, tightly grips both my hands and leads me around the outside of the circle of seated people, some dancing in micro movement exchange with one of the company dancers, some witnessing, perhaps curious. At various points I gently attempt to re-enter the circle but am met with his resistance – he pulls me back. He doesn’t say it but I imagine him saying: ‘not yet, this is not the right way in’. Later, at the end of the workshop we meet again and with his right arm around my waist he guides me out the door and together with all the other participants and nurses, we make our way up to the fifth floor to the lunch room where I sit a while longer with him. He offers me his drink. I feel like I’ve known him forever.
I feel shell shocked to be so suddenly transported into this space such palpable intimacy with a group of strangers. The women and men in this twenty strong group were frail, vulnerable and in the final chapter of their dementia journey and yet the intensity of the group’s participation offered acts of resistance. A held gaze, asustained touch, throwing a jacket across the room, surprised laughter, an angry refusal to get up and dance, a reaching gesture to hold my hand. What I experienced was unmediated – we were all reaching for each other and in doing so we found the sadness, the slowing of pace. A place where words are topsy turvy and almost gone – but oceans of feeling remain“. Beatrice Allegranti, May 2018
Photos: Mel Burford
“This was nothing but a “regular” concert or dance show, where patients / residents are more or less passive recipients. In this dance, the patients really got involved and contributed directly to body and senses. It was amazing to see what came out of the dance and how spontaneous they were. The dancers were also very good, they knew what they were doing and they dared to challenge the patients more than we might usually wake up, but at the same time they took into consideration and ignored the limits of the patients” Kristin Marie Saetre, Manager, Fyllingsdalen Sykehjem
‘This was a really positive experience. The people of the day-care-centre remembered this workshop and talked about it when they came next time…and some also had a positive experience by the fact that you came from abroad and they could talk English‘ Kristin Marie Saetre, Manager, Fyllingsdalen Sykehjem
Fyllingsdalen Care Home, Bergen
Bella Ciao, the Italian partisan song, resounds its political message of resistance across the room. The group catch it like wildfire. Within minutes everyone is singing and throwing clothes across the space. Anarchy in the care home – we are untidy, unstructured and playfulness begins our dance. This group had ‘so much to say’, they are living with young onset dementia and their vocalisations resonate from a deep place, they are like cries reaching across generations, across time, space and bodies. As we sing and swing together we co-create dynamic and rhythmic pathways – everyone mobilising their vulnerability: we are the wind, the waves of the sea, the birds flying free. We are united in our participation, whether witnessing or dancing, everyone is in this together. Beatrice Allegranti, May 2018