MDI Merseyside Dance Initiative
Inspiring people through dance

Dance for Dementia: Dance and Movement with the Alzheimer’s Society

MDI, in partnership with the Alzheimer's Society, run free Tea Dances or people living with dementia and their carers in The Florrie, in Liverpool. MDI is a member of the Liverpool Dementia Action Alliance and together with other members of this group, is working towards making Liverpool a Dementia friendly community.

MDI has been working with the Alzheimer's Society since September 2012 delivering dance and movement classes for people living with dementia and their carers in Liverpool Knowsley and Sefton.  These classes were part of the wider Alzheimer's Society's Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention (NPI) project which also involved other art forms including singing, visual arts and poetry.  You can read the Alzheimer's Society's evaluation of the full NPI project here. This project ended in Feburary 2014 and as part of the project legacy the Liverpool CCG has continued to fund the Liverpool dance and movement classes. You can read more about these classes here

These free Tea Dances taking place on the second Monday of each month between 1.30 and 3.30pm (Dancing starts at 2pm)  If you know someone who might benefit from taking part in these sessions, please contact Michelle Davies at the Alzheimer’s Society on 0151 426 4433, mobile 07828 497696, email Michelle.Davies@alzheimers.org.uk or Rachel Rogers at MDI, 0151 708 8810, rachel@mdi.org.uk


History of MDI's dance and dementia work:

MDI has, since it began in 1993, always delivered dance classes and projects in the community and with older people, often in a residential or healthcare setting.  These projects often included people who were living with dementia.  MDI were appointed 'Dance Ambassadors' but the Liverpool PCT and City Council in 2010 and developed a year long programme of community dance activity. We began to work specifically with adults with dementia as part of this programme. We ran a pilot project with residents and day care service users at Redholme Memory Care in Liverpool, monitoring the sessions to see if taking part in dancing would improve people’s engagement. Wendy Thomas, who led the sessions, used her improvisation skills to adapt to the needs of the group and individuals as necessary.

As the project progressed, the group grew more comfortable with each other and the sessions. People began to initiate activities themselves and appeared to remember elements of the sessions.  We also gathered anecdotal evidence that people’s general mood improved and remained heightened after the end of the sessions.

‘We noticed that when Mum had been dancing in the day, she would come home in a very good mood and continue to sing and dance for the rest of the afternoon and evening.’
Suzanne Quinney, daughter of participant

‘The project left me with a renewed sense of the power of dance and music to be a vehicle for people to communicate deeply and express their feelings. It confirmed for me how valuable the experience can be for a person with dementia.
‘Seeing the participants’ faces light up, seeing such energy and motivation for interaction and spontaneity is something that will stay with me.’
Wendy Thomas, independent dance artist

You can see 'Echoes', a short film made by First Take which captures the atmosphere of this project, here:

In 2011 and 2012 MDI continued to work with people living with dementia through projects like 'Our Dancing Days are (not) Done' in Partnership with Steve Biko Housing at Hector Peterson Court and by joining the Year of Action on Dementia (YAD) Steering group.  This lead to being part of the Alzheimer's Society's NPI project in 2012 and 2013 and our current classes delivered in partnership with them and to being part of the newly established Liverpool Dementia Action Alliance in 2014.

The Future: MDI are committed to continuing to deliver dance classes for people living with dementia in a range of settings and have cited dance for Older People, including dance for dementia and dance for Parkinson's as a priority area for 2015 - 2018.

MDI is in the development stages of two projects which will include people living with dementia and carers: A more in depth version of 'Our Dancing Days are (not) Done' with Steve Biko Housing and Hector Peterson Court and 'Fascinating Rhythm' a multi arts projects that will link residential and day care settings with arts venues, artists and communities. Watch this space!

MDI works with a small team of skilled dance artists who have a wealth of experience working with older people and with people living with dementia and other health issues. Dance artists include: Jennie Hale, Maxine Brown, Wendy Thomas, Jo Ashbridge, Michelle Brady, Stephanie Bairet and Patricia Mateus. MDI can deliver bespoke dance for dementia sessions on a one off or a regular basis in community, residential and hospital settings according to the needs of the participants.

Please get in touch with Rachel Rogers at MDI to find out more. 0151 708 8810 rachel@mdi.org.uk