Dance artist learns from world's oldest dance group
Published: 16 Feb 2015
Diane Amans, from Stockport, is a community dance practitioner specialising in training dancers and activity leaders working with older people. She has recently returned from Australia and New Zealand, after being awarded a Churchill Fellowship to carry out research into different approaches to dance with older people.
Whilst in New Zealand Diane travelled to Waiheke Island to interview two members of the Hip Op-eration Crew – a hip hop dance group consisting of senior citizens. Terri Two Cents (94) and Cara Bang Bang (95) showed Diane some of their dance moves and told her about their plans to perform in New York next year. They have already performed at the world Hip Hop Championship finals in Las Vegas and are featured in a new documentary film recently shown in cinemas in New Zealand.
Diane visited a number of other dance companies and saw some inspiring performances that challenge stereotypes of ageing and older people. In Tasmania she interviewed the artistic director of MADE (Mature Artists Dance Experience) together with dancers who have taken part in a hospice project, working with volunteers to develop their stories into dance pieces.
In Australia Diane observed a number of dance artists leading a range of different classes. These included a Dance for Parkinson’s Class which is funded by a bank in ACT (Australian Capital Territory) and a GOLD (Growing Older Disgracefully) class organised by Canberra Dance.
Diane said, “This was a great opportunity to gain ideas and reflect on my practice. I had some fascinating conversations with dance teachers and other community workers and have formed valuable links with new colleagues in the field. The whole experience has been very inspiring”.
As a result of her Fellowship Diane has also gained greater insight into leading activities with people who have Alzheimer’s. Along with Merseyside dance artist and Fellow Bisakha Sarker, she plans to explore the possibility of developing these ideas into projects and training for carers.