One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is involvement in projects that take music and movement to sectors of the community who might not otherwise have that access. As well as co-leading the ENB’s Dance for Parkinson’s programme, I work with dance artists Roosa Leimu-Brown and Louisa Dalton to deliver music and movement workshops as MuMo Creative. Drawing our respective backgrounds in biology, history and dance, we build our sessions around story, science, and themes tailored specifically to clients’ needs—such as a series of workshops for older people, based on the Museum of Rural Life’s collection, and a series of free homeschooling videos and gentle seated exercises during the Covid-19 pandemic. For more details, see our website.
I’ve joined forces with a number of dance artists to create live music sessions in hospitals and homes around the area, including a project at Witney Community Hospital, visiting the wards and day room to bring some song and dance into the daily routine. Dancer Rhonda Sparrey and I were among 12 practitioners funded by the FLOURISH programme to encourage the use of arts among people with dementia. We led a course of eight Dance for Dementia workshops at the Christchurch Centre in Henley, featuring themes such as A Night At The Theatre and A Day At The Seaside. Here’s a short film about our work, which gives some idea of the extraordinary power of music to revive and reconnect.
In August 2019 I joined a chamber group of musicians at beautiful Snape Maltings in Suffolk (below), where we accompanied Amy Mallett’s opera The Catchpole Chronicles, devised by Co-Lab, a team of experienced outreach artists. The piece was created from workshops with people who have Parkinson’s Disease, and inspired by the story of 19th-century convict Margaret Catchpole. The musicians returned to the recital hall to record the music, and there are plans to bring The Catchpole Chronicles to the Royal Opera House—watch this space!
It’s been a privilege to work with talented dance practitioner Danielle Teale, creator of the DfP programme, on a variety of projects: leading a weekend of DfP workshops in Glasgow for Scottish Ballet, and an introductory course for DfP teachers at the People Dancing conference in De Montfort University, Leicester; and, along with dancer Sarah Lewis and musician Amy Mallett, participating in devised opera The Catchpole Chronicles in Snape Maltings. The physical and psychological benefits of music, movement and imagination are increasingly recognised by the medical profession, and their effects on our participants in every session are an absolute joy to see.