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Dance Well

A community participation project utilising South Asian dance to improve the physical and mental health, and wellbeing of older adults and those living with dementia.

What we do

Dance Well engages physically inactive older adults in 8–12 weeks of culturally diverse and creative dance activities, with the aim of improving balance, coordination, strength and cardiorespiratory fitness, as well as enhancing social engagement and reducing incidents of loneliness. Dance Well reaches older adults living with a range of long-term health conditions, including dementia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease and diabetes. Since January 2016, it has reached over 600 older adults. 

Akademi provides activities in community centres, day centres, care homes and NHS hospital wards. Led by professional South Asian dance artists, workshops are tailored to participants’ needs, either in group sessions, or one-to-one, and are influenced by dance forms such as Kathak, Bharatanatyam and Odissi. Akademi is one of only a few organisations specifically applying South Asian dance in these settings and has found nuances in these styles to be beneficial to older adults. This includes the use of storytelling through mudras (hand gestures) and props, such as dandiya sticks and ghungroos for rhythm work. Dance Well has built strong partnerships with numerous NHS Foundation Trusts and their respective arts charities, including Vital Arts, rb&hArts, Royal Free Charity and Imperial Charity. 

Building upon research that dance improves strength, balance, fitness and aerobic power in older adults, Akademi will carry out tests of physical fitness and psychological wellbeing before and after a 12-week dance intervention at Harefield Hospital in April 2018 to establish if this is also true of South Asian Dance.

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