Somatic Revelations Ty Tedmon-Jones' blog devoted to information sharing, professional practices and diversity awareness & multiculturalism in the fields of Dance/Movement Therapy and Professional Counseling
The Dance to DTR Blair Cronin's blog on the wonders, trials, and tribulations of becoming a certified dance/movement therapist in California
The New Mexican mountains are vast and beautiful, far beyond my capacity to capture adequately with my iPhone camera. Traveling in the Southwest desert reminds me of a summer many years ago when I was studying Creative Dance with Barbara Mettler in Tucson, AZ. It was my 2nd summer studying with Mettler, and she was not in a very good mood. The saving grace was hanging out with fellow students, spending free time with Norma Canner and Elizabeth McKim. The image of this native American woman below and her expansive gesture from this poster in the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque reminds me of a well-known image of Norma Canner in another poster, the cover of the dvd of Norma's life and work, A Time to Dance.
Spending the day in this part of the world, I am greatly inspired by the art of Georgia O"Keefe, some of the fabulous rugs by weavers such as Esther Silentman, pottery by Nampeyo, and Apache basketry in the shop called Native Jackets on the Square, and the photography of the Southwest and African safaris by R. David Marks.
Norma Canner loved the Southwest. Her clothing style was influenced by Native peoples. She loved dancing outside in nature and even more so in her later years.
In this photo you can just see my head peaking out to the left of Myron Sharaf, biographer of Wilhelm Reich in what is considered the definite biography, Fury On Earth.
On this, the last day of Creative Arts Theray week 2015, I feel so very blessed to have followed my path to becoming and practicing as a dance/movement therapist these past 36 years. The arts can be a way to allow the powerful energy received from communing with Mother Nature to flow through one.
I've heard it said that the devil is in the detail
God is in the detail.
Thus it behooves us to make our choices wisely. Dance is a moment by moment choice in details brought from the choreographer's vision to dancers' actions.
If you are in the Cambridge, MA area, come see Back Pocket Dancers perform in our infrequent public performance, Thursday, April 23, 7:30pm at the Multicultural Arts Center, 41 Second St. E. Cambridge. Here's an image from our latest rehearsal.
Our concert, HERE AT LAST, was awarded a grant from the Cambridge Arts Council. The grant also supports an invitation-only matinee (April 22) we're doing for elders from various Cambridge elder venues! Both shows will be terrific and will be premiering a new dance choreographed by Molly Hess as well as other dances from our repertoire. Don't miss it!
By Ginny Mazur and Lance Chapman with Cindy Allard
When we walk onto Olmsted Place at Goddard House, despite the many challenges of memory loss, we find that the residents there are active, engaged and supportive of each other. These may not be the typical qualities that many of us associate with dementia. We’ve seen how much the ability levels of individuals with memory loss are impacted, when caregivers change their responses to them in supporting and empowering ways. But how do they do it? What is that certain something?
Lance Chapman and Ginny Mazur sat down with Cindy Allard, RT, BSN, Olmsted Program Director, to have her offer some deeper explanations of how this engaging and supportive environment gets created. We tapped into Cindy’s wisdom which comes from her 30 years of experience in this field. She offered us an overview of the many considerations that go into planning programs, hiring and training staff and developing this memory support environment which then allows Olmsted Place residents to act and feel more like themselves. Cindy passionately offered her explanations: “We follow the habilitation model of meeting our residents wherever they are in their minds and emotions. In this model every interaction is considered an activity, part of the program. Meaningful, purposeful programs that connect with emotions are the foundation of care and, they are the spice of life that proclaim, “Feel good, have fun and live in the moment!”
“I’ve been working with older adults for over 30 years after getting a degree in recreational therapy. Over the years, I’ve worked in the full continuum of geriatric and Alzheimer’s care. Several years ago, I returned to school for a BSN in nursing. At that juncture, I truly felt that the people with Alzheimer’s, with whom I was working, needed and deserved more. I earned my nursing degree to broaden and deepen my work so that I could fully understand the needs of the whole person (mind, body and emotions) and have that knowledge translate into the high quality of care and programming residents experience each day on Olmsted Place.”
“We need to form trusting emotional and physical connections with Olmsted residents. We do this by responding to their invitation for us to engage with them in their space and world. It’s important not to initiate, but instead to wait to enter their personal space with their permission. When we wait for them, we earn their trust. That trust helps us develop a flow to each day on Olmsted Place. From early morning until 8 p.m. we are guiding people to and from activities, responding to all that we know about the individual. Groups begin with invitations to participate, introductions and greetings. There is a transition phase as we begin each program which needs to be engaging and focused without too many distractions or too much stimuli. People are welcomed by name and referenced by what’s important to each individual. It’s essential to know everyone and take time for that process of reintroduction many times each day. From there, we can emphasize shared connections and relationships that engage and build community.”
“During each program or activity, residents are asked questions in a failure-free atmosphere and allowed to experience the success of that. This allows residents to regain confidence and self-esteem which so often is lost with dementia. Olmsted staff members are constantly assessing the right balance of stimulation to maximize group participation. Staff, then, remind each resident of how much they enjoyed a past similar experience to have them evoke those emotions again, which frames the personal, emotional context for participation and their connection to their life. This technique offers structure, comfort and familiarity but always with a flexible back-up plan. If the group conversation is going in a direction all are interested in, there’s no need to intervene even if it goes off on a tangent – treasure those moments of full engagement.” “At the end of each program we leave plenty of time for a recap of what has been covered and learned. This wrap-up phase also helps to wind-down and guide participants to the next activity so they do not feel idle, bored orlost. Anxiety, worry and pacing come out of boredom, out of not getting one’s needs for engagement met. When a person’s needs are addressed those behaviors occur far less frequently.”
“Finally, I believe this approach works so well because facilitating these real associations to experiences and preferences support each person being related to and having their needs fully considered. This differs for everyone. If I suggest to you, “Let’s go for tea”, and you’re a coffee drinker, we won’t connect. I’ve really got to know you. Caregivers need to evoke positive emotions that remain intact longer. It is essential for our staff to understand that the people who live on Olmsted are educated adults. Yes, they have memory loss, but in the moment, they can be who they always have been and experience having a continued purpose in life. We focus on what they can still do...on the person that is still there. As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.
I heard from Magdalena Schamberger, Chief Executive & Artistic Director of Hearts & Minds of the new documentary style film called Hearts & Minds : Behind the Nose. You can see the film here. The film offers insight into the development of the characters of the clowns as well as the affect of this positive programming. At 18:28, begins the part about Elderflowers. Professor June Andrews, Director, Dementia Services Deveopment Centre, clarifies that what Hearts & Minds clowns do is not just entertain, but more importantly, finds out what's important to the residents.
Andrews also speaks of researchers often measuring the wrong things when trying to the assess the affects of a program on a person with dementia. Even though the person may not remember what they did, they have a sort of happy hangover. I love that description, as it certainly fits my experience. In fact, yesterday, sadly, I had an experience of contributing to a person's cross hangover. When I wasn't looking, a lovely woman had folded up my playlist and I could see the tiniest bit of it peaking out of her pocket. When I playfully asked if I might see what she had there, pointing to her pocket, she immediately became irritated and left the group. She came by after the group was over and although she didn't seem to remember me, she expressed feeling disgruntled and walked away muttering and calling me names. The experience left me curious if a different approach might have worked, or if my usual ignoring is the only best response.
On another UK front, unfortunately Inside Out of Mind, a play by Tanya Myers about the experience of dementia care will be playing in the UK after I am no longer there. The description looks very enticing:
Touching minds and hearts, nurses and patients search for love, rhyme and reason on ‘the ward with no name’. Dancing inside out and outside in, the play moves between multiple realities where time and identity drift apart.
Anything that helps us bridge the worlds between ourselves and those who perceive the world differently would certainly be helpful. And, of course, that would be anyone who isn't us.
One audience member in 2013 wrote: “Compelling performances from a strong cast powerfully invoke understanding of just how important it is to see people with dementia as individuals with rich life experiences. Everyone should see this deeply moving play”.
You can download the flyer here: Download IOOM Flyer If you see the play, please comment or write and let me know what you discovered. I'd love to let people know more.
“We may be in a period of exploring the ways in which … we can both be and promote others’ being, as whole human beings.” (Lincoln & Denzin, 2000, p. 185)
This one‐day co‐operative inquiry is shaped by a vision to challenge dominant perspectives of effective health and social caregiving, embracing a truly holistic and person‐centred approach. New knowledge will be generated, translated and disseminated through an active learning model of inquiry. Lincoln & Denzin (2000) argue that we are in an era when promotion of the ‘whole human being’ is being applauded by educators, researchers, policy makers and strategic thinkers. Whilst the language of wellbeing, mindfulness, compassion, person‐centredness and human flourishing is commonplace in key policy documents, so too is that of fiscal prudency. This is a living contradiction that both challenges and enables the growth of creativity in research, teaching & learning and clinical practice in health and social care.
This day of active learning creates a space to experience and engage with artistic and creative embodied ways of being and knowing. The day offers opportunities to play, debate, discuss, reflect, have fun, engage in co‐operation, think, take risks and share learning.
Aim The day will challenge dominant perspectives of effective health and social care-giving, and explore and embrace a truly holistic and person‐centred approach.
Ways of working This is not a typical conference with keynote speakers, concurrent sessions etc. Instead we intend to create safe and democratic spaces where collaborative creative‐reflective inquiry can be nourished. The day will be organised to maximise opportunities for participation in creative inquiry as well as time for reflection, discussion and debate. To help create that ethos we have invite some lead creative facilitators:
Invited Facilitators Donna Newman‐Bluestein, USA - Dance/MovementTherapist, Counselor & Educator Magdalena Schamberger, Scotland - Clown Doctor, CEO, Hearts and Minds Jenny Elliott, Northern Ireland, Dancer-in‐Residence, Health & Social Care Simon Jackson, Scotland, Visual Artist, & Counselor with ‘GroupArtProcess’ Susan Worsfold, Scotland, Theatre Director & Artist, Voice Coach
Target Participants Allied Health Professionals eg OTs, Physios, Podiatrists, Arts Therapists; Counsellors, Psychotherapists, Psychologists; Nurses; Health and Social Care support workers and managers; Care commissioners; NHS Scotland senior management
Cost -‐ £80 per head
Venue – Queen Margaret University, Musselburgh, Edinburgh, EH21 6UU
My workshop is described thus:
‘Seeing with the Heart’
An embodied approach to care that considers persons first. How do we convey trustworthiness, warmth, and caring through our nonverbal communication? In this workshop we will explore the basic elements that make up nonverbal communication through expressive movement and dance. Leave the judge at home and come prepared to have fun and be curious.
I will be leading 4 workshops in January in the UK: January 12, London; January 19, Leeds; January 21, Salford; and January 24, Edinburgh. If you're in the UK and you dance or work with people with dementia, please join me as together we make the world a better, embodied place for people living with a dementia. This blog post is about the first 2 only. See additional posts for 2 more workshops.
Together with Dr. Richard Coaten, Jan. 12 at Green Candle Dance in London and Jan. 19 at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds:
in partnership with “The Knowing Body Network” “Dancing the in-between”… An experiential Masterclass in Movement, Dance & Dementia
Are you a practitioner already running movement and dance groups with older people?
Are you interested in learning more about the use of movement, music, dance, song and reminiscence from national and international leaders in the field?
If so, are you willing to commit to a day’s training at reasonable cost, to further develop your skills and strengthen the workforce of dancers/artists in healthcare?
This is a unique opportunity for practitioners with some experience running movement and dance groups with older people and those with memory problems, coming together to share and learn with two leading experts in the field…
Quality of life is improved, relationships maintained, and resources expanded for older people who engage in Dance Movement Therapy according to the latest findings based on a research study of providers (Brauninger, 2014).
The day will present simple structures and approaches including the use of props, for leading high-‐ quality dance/expressive movement groups for older people, and those with concerns about memory. We will explore the basic elements of dance, Force, Time, Space and Flow, relevant to leading groups, based on the teachings of U.S. pioneer, performer, theorist and teacher, Barbara Mettler and her pupil, dance therapist and educator, Norma Canner. What are the essential skills of group leadership? How might the psychological theories of Donald Winnicott and John Bowlby be relevant to leading groups with this population? How does one develop spontaneity and authenticity? Why is mirroring so effective? And what do any of these have to do with improving the quality of life for people with dementia?
Workshop 1: Monday January 12th 2015
Where: Green Candle Dance Company Ltd, Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, Bethnal Green, London E2 6HG Tel: (0)20 7739 7722 Directions: nearest Underground tube station: Bethnal Green Times: 09.30am to 4.30pm Cost: £50 (not including lunch)
Workshop 2: Monday January 19th 2015
Where: West Yorkshire Playhouse, Playhouse Square, Quarry Hill, Leeds LS2 7UP Tel: 0113 213 7700 Directions: nearest rail/bus station is Leeds City Centre Times: 09.30am to 4.30pm Cost: £50 (not including lunch)
For more information on course content, please leave a comment for me.
“[P]lay could be the key to discovering the giftedness that is in everyone.” - Stuart Brown
Stuart Brown is one brilliant man. Psychiatrist and founder of The National Institute for Play, his Ted Talk, Play is more than just fun; play is serious, is truly inspiring, shedding a great deal of light on a topic in desperate need of research funding (as is dance/movement therapy).
Brown “first discovered the importance of play by discerning its absence in a carefully studied group of homicidal young males”. In Brown’s studies and interviews of mass murderers, he found the only common denominator was “the absence of play and a progressive suppression of developmentally normal play”.
Wanting to understand more about the role of play led to Brown’s research in the 1980’s. Stuart has learned:
Play emerges early in the development of the relationship between infant and mother. The first type of play is what he calls body play, what dance/movement therapists and certified movement analysts might call exploring and learning through movement, following one’s intrinsic curiosity.
Brown cites Brian Sutton-Smith, "The opposite of play is not work, it's depression.” Stuart suggests jumping up and down and wiggling around purely for its own sake. “You're going to feel better.”
Another type of play is object play. “The human hand and manipulation of objects is a hand in search of a brain and the brain in the search of a hand, and play is the medium by which those 2 are linked...”
Through the chaos of rough & tumble play, preschool kids can learn emotional regulation.There is also spectator play (think spectator sports), ritual play, and imaginative play. Through play, children learn empathy, how to communicate with others, and how to roll with the punches, to be resilient.
“Belonging is a basic human need, fundamental to our sense of happiness and well-being.” IF YOU WANT TO BELONG, YOU NEED SOCIAL PLAY.
Stuart asks, “What does imaginative play do for the brain? . . . NOTHING LIGHTS UP THE BRAIN LIKE PLAY. 3 dimensional play fires up the cerebellum, puts a lot of impulses into the frontal lobe, the executive portion, helps contextual memory to be developed, and, and, and”.
So what is the relevance of play re dance/movement therapy with people with dementia? As dance/movement therapists, we use play, humor, and props, engaging in body play, object play, spectator play, ritual play, and imaginative play!!! In a recent first time group with folks with cognitive deficits, I was introducing myself, offering my hand for a handshake to one woman. When she withdrew from me quickly and dramatically, yet with a twinkle in her eye, I could tell immediately that she was a terrific tease. I spontaneously dropped to my feet in a begging gesture and pleaded with her to take my hand. Everyone in the group laughed, and we were off to a great start. I don’t know about you, but I surely want to light up my brain and the brains of others I come in contact with.
Calvin Hunt, one time general manager of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, said “Part of our job [as dancers[ is the attitude that we carry and the vibe we can create.” That is exactly how I see my job as a dance/movement therapist in working with people, especially those with advanced dementia. That is the main aspect of our jobs, bringing the attitude, and the gift of self, the willingness to let that spontaneous self emerge.
The latest John Zeisel interview on Hopeful Aging aired on December 4 on Bedford TV, Community Access Television. You can see it on youtube. Ellen Soares is the Docent Program Manager at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. Soares was speaking about a group of older adults with cognitive challenges who had gone to see the Iris Apfel fashion exhibit. (I saw the exhibit, and it was quite fabulous. See my Feb. 10, 2010 blog post.) Soares described one woman who earlier seemed to have an air of being above it all, who announced after seeing the exhibit,
“I need to postpone dying. There is so much more I need to see.”
Zeisel spoke of the objects in the museum and the experience itself as “the mediating object . . . that is having something in front of you gives you something to talk about. The object beings to grow the conversation. . . The experience is a conversation generator.”
That is exactly what my dance/movement therapy groups intend to do. One of my mantras is “Let’s Give ‘em Somethin’ to Talk About” (Thank you, Bonnie Raitt). It is my intention to provide people with top quality stimuli, whether the clothes I wear, the music, or props, whether octabands (of course), colorful scarves, rhythm instruments with good sound, hats, or the improv itself.
Additional resources relevant to play:
American Dance Therapy Association. Donations to the Marian Chace Foundation of the American Dance Therapy Association support the educational, scientific, literary and artistic development of the dance/movement therapy profession.
2015 is promising to be a hugely exciting year, as I will be traveling around the world meeting up with colleagues and making new friends in hopes of strengthening a global network of practitioners who would dance with people with dementia.
Coming up in 2015:
Jan. 12, Green Candle, London
Jan. 19, Leeds, West Yorkshire Playhouse
Dancing the in-between: An experiential masterclass in movement, dance and personhood with Dr. Richard Coaten and Donna Newman-Bluestein
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org for booking form
Jan. 21, Salford Institute for Dementia, Salford Communicating differently: Use of movement and space with people with dementia
The Octaband™ is a fun, interactive tool which promotes individuality and group cohesion through movement for people of all ages and abilities. As a dance/movement therapist, Donna Newman-Bluestein was motivated to design the Octaband to stimulate movement in the elderly with dementia. The stretchy material, bright colors, and innovative design stimulate self-expression, spontaneity, and awareness of others. The center circle provides a strong visual focus, and the 5 1/2" hem at the end of each arm allows those with limited grasping ability to participate. Go to www.octaband.com to learn more.