Dance opens our eyes, it moves us, it connects us, and it tells our stories. Dance changes our lives.
It brought back memories of the body that I didn’t know were still there
Thank you for today’s session, you’ve created a safe and enjoyable environment for a varied group with ease. Brilliant.
Making connections with strangers and then moving together as friends. This experience is holistic and priceless.
So good to be feeling freer, more flexible and gaining strength again. My back is feeling less fragile and that is enough to make the rest of my body feel great.
My body is enjoying an awakening of movement memory – it’s a challenge, but brings mental and physical rewards.
No sooner had we started then it was time to finish – time just flew!
Harnisch-Lacey Dance is developing bespoke dance and health projects for all ages and abilities. Dance participation has many benefits. It not only develops ones creative self-expression, but it also can improve cardiovascular health, mobility and strength. Dancing can be particularly effective at improving physical and mental wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem.
In older people, regular dance activity can help maintain cognitive function, reduce cardiovascular risk and reduce the risk of falls. Participating in dance sessions provide a way for older people to be active, have fun and also engage socially with others.
Lately Harnisch-Lacey Dance has been running Healthy Creative Dance sessions for the over 60s exploring the connection of mind and body and its relevance to wellbeing and health.
‘Lockdown Connections’ was created during the Covid-19 lockdown in March ’21 as a physical and creative response to the pandemic. Eight sessions were held via Zoom and each participant explored their own personal journey while finding connection with each other and finding connection of body and mind. This dance and health project focused on the physical and mental wellbeing of the over 60s and on combating social isolation.
It is through meaningful personal experiences of physical creative self-expression through contemporary dance, that my interest in the connection of arts and health started to develop. The power of creativity and embodied self-expression, which connects the creative self with the physical self, is what lies at the heart of my love for contemporary dance. Whether it’s working with the young or the young at heart – dance is a powerful tool to enhance physical and mental wellbeing in each and every one of us.
— Sandra Harnisch-Lacey
Belonging – an intergenerational dance and health project
I have loved connecting with older people through dance and creativity
— Teenage participant
‘Belonging’ was an intergenerational dance and health project exploring the experiences of the Covid-19 lockdown. The project ran over four weeks and culminated in an outdoor performance for the residents at Cartref Care Home, Cardiff. Four ladies in their 60s and 70s and three teenagers met on Zoom exploring their personal lockdown stories through somatic improvisation, creative writing and art. The whole project was based on co-creation with the participants leading the trajectory of the discovery.
The project was of real benefit to the mental and physical wellbeing of the participants, connecting generations and providing a platform for the participants to find connection with each other and with their bodies. Contemporary dance, creative writing, and art were encountered as tools for creative self-expression to work through past lockdown experiences. All participants experienced physical and mental wellbeing and strong bonds between the generations were fostered. The teenagers felt encouraged and supported by the older women, who themselves were inspired by the youthful energy and enthusiasm of the girls. The qualitative and quantitative results of this research project indicate strongly that intergenerational dance projects can have wide-reaching positive impacts on well-being, social cohesion and social engagement.
I made new friends and connections with beautiful people and the high school girls have been an inspiration. I have totally enjoyed their energy and company.
This project has been hugely helpful to me. I started this project with a clinical mental health disorder that left me feeling distressed and confused on a daily basis, but as the sessions went on, I felt myself becoming more mindful, centred and peaceful in my everyday life, not just during sessions. The somatic improvisation techniques that I learned in this project where honestly of the best things I had ever experienced. I felt so free and powerful and remembered why I loved dance in the first place.