Moving Minds, a dance project run by York St John University lecturer Elaine Harvey, is looking to recruit participants from across the country to take part in an exciting new piece of research that explores the lived experiences of people with dementia.
Moving Minds has been offering free weekly dance sessions for people living with dementia and their friends and family members for the last four years. While the classes have been on hold during lockdown, they have had to start thinking about dance in a different way.
Individuals who have received a dementia diagnosis, and those who live with them, will be asked to conceive of the condition as a dance, and to consider what kind of dance dementia might be – so, they will be asked one question – ‘if dementia was a dance, what kind of dance would it be?’.
The group are collaborating with Chris Gregory of Alternative Stories, who creates audio dramas, podcasts and documentaries and they hope to create a sound collage of voices which captures something of the lived experience of people with dementia.
Research lead Elaine Harvey commented “preliminary testing of this question has produced rich and varied responses with participants describing their experience as ‘a tango done backwards’, as a negotiated improvisation with an invisible partner, as a sometimes dizzying sometimes mesmerising whirling dervish”.
A range of emotionally charged metaphors, often relating to the inanimate and the passive, pervades the popular imagination, and these are found not only in newspaper accounts, political speeches and feature films, but in medical and scientific texts.
Elaine hopes that the project will go some way in challenging the way dementia is spoken or written about, commenting that “dance, with its emphasis on reciprocity, balance, exchange and animation has the potential to create a powerful counter-discourse; a significant challenge to the plethora of metaphors connected to the inanimate and the passive”.
Given the current Covid guidelines people will be asked to record a response to this question using the voice memo function on a smart phone. Anyone interested in participating will receive advice on how to make and send their recording.
The research project is open to anyone affected by dementia; this includes those who have received a dementia-related diagnosis and those who live and work alongside them.
If you are interested in participating please email Moving Minds at: [email protected] or call/text Elaine on 07881 922343