Dance is thrilling. So many people wish they could do it well! There is a universal desire to move with a beat, and there are so many forms of dance to enjoy. Many of our clients are wheelchair bound, but it doesn’t mean they can’t and shouldn’t move – they are just making smaller movements and fewer movements. The hand-hula of Polynesian dancing is a gentle, beautiful example of using just the hands to create a self-expressive ‘dance.’ Clapping, tapping, swaying arms overhead, and moving silk scarves through the air in time with the music are all ways to engage people with limitations in the process of danced.
Seniors love to dance but most won’t go it alone. Volunteers are encouraged to ask the direction of activity staff to see which clients are able and interested in dancing. Invite those people to dance with you and follow their lead completely.
If someone is seated, they can still dance by moving their hands and their feet. Motions like arms raised to the front or sides are things many seniors often don’t do enough of. Volunteers can encourage participation when they mimic hand or feet moves, or move to the rhythm, and share eye contact or a casual invitation to a receptive resident.
Lightweight silk scarves are a wonderful tool to use with seniors. They are weightless. They can be an extension of your body and the music’s rhythm as you allow them to flow between you and a client. When the client grabs the other end, you’re dancing!
TAO will have a number of scarves available for use upon request.
Developed by Anne Green Gilbert, the BrainDance is a series of exercises that is comprised of eight fundamental movement patterns that we move through in the first year of life. Research has shown that these patterns are crucial to the wiring of our central nervous system. As babies, we did these movements on our tummies on the floor. However, cycling through these patterns sitting or standing has been found to be beneficial. This "dance" is an excellent full body and brain warm-up for children and adults in all settings. The BrainDance can be done at the beginning of class; before tests, performances, and presentations; and during computer work and TV watching for brain reorganization, oxygenation, and recuperation.
The benefits for children and adults in cycling through these patterns include:
Reorganization of the neurological system: The fundamental movement patterns wire the central nervous system laying the foundation for sensory-motor development and life long learning. Cycling through these patterns on a daily basis may correct flaws in a person's perceptual process and reorganize the central nervous system so to develop better proprioception, balance, attention, memory, eye-tracking, behavior, sensory integration, and motor skills.
Increased blood and oxygen flow to the respiratory system and brain: The brain consumes one-fifth of the body's oxygen. Deep breathing is essential for a fully functioning body and brain. All movements and rhythms are based on breath.
Enhanced core support, connectivity, and alignment: Becoming aware of the visceral and muscular systems that support the body leads to correct use of body structures and helps children and adults to be injury-free and move with ease and coordination. Each pattern underlies and supports the next pattern and when done in succession brings connectivity to our use of the body, reflecting an integration of body and mind.
Deeper understanding of the elements of dance technique: The fundamental movement patterns are an integral part of dance technique. Whether taking a Ballet, Modern, Jazz, or Creative Dance class, students are able to integrate and apply the patterns of the BrainDance to their technical skill development. Dancers acquire and practice skills with more ease when they are aware that a particular pattern underlies the movement. Movement intent becomes clearer as dancers embody the BrainDance patterns.
BrainDance is something that TAO has begun offering in 2011, through local dance artist Karen Buccheim. We invite interested dancers to come and learn this unique and beneficial ‘dance.’
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Tidewater Arts Outreach is a 501c(3) Virginia not-for-profit corporation, Tax ID 68-0583526.