The day finally arrived where we were to receive our training in 'Circle Dancing' from our trainer, Cynthia.
Cynthia was an ethereal woman, in a long skirt and bangles and you had to really keep your ears open as she was quite softly spoken. She was a warm lady, who was really passionate about the power of dance and excited to be passing on her knowledge where it would be of great use.
The morning was dedicated mostly to learning about the history behind dancing in a circle, it's links with spirituality, pagan celebrations and how it is practised all over the UK and indeed, the world. Then came the routines. They were simple but mainly suited to people standing, with a few adaptions for seated participation.
When I think back to the first few sessions I ran at Brambles, I remember lots of laughter and the novelty of staff members being so engaged with an activity and how this had a massive positive impact upon the residents. I also remember that lots of the moves that Cynthia had given us needed to be adapted to suit our residents' mobility and that all the music she'd given us was of a similar style - instrumental, normally classical in style but with a very distinct rhythm.
When it came to creating my own sessions, I knew from my experience working with residents that some of them felt quite pigeon holed when it came to music. The assumption that they would only enjoy songs they recognised, songs from WW2 or cockney knees up style tracks was felt keenly. It bored them. During my time as an activity coordinator I introduced various different music to the residents.
One of my best memories is of introducing Iron Maiden to a lady who had never heard 'metal' before and absolutely loved it. Talk about bucking the trend.
Sticking to songs care home residents would recognise, felt a little patronising so I went completely the other way. My sessions include songs from all over the world, from all different cultures and eras, which is one of the things participants say they like the most about my sessions. They learn new things!
I've also made the base level for physical movement quite low in my sessions, adding extra 'challenges' for people who want to stretch themselves. Presenting it in this way (building it up, rather than dumbing it down) allows participants to feel included and proud of themselves for their achievements in participating without the idea of them being 'bottom of the class'.
Next in The Story of Join The Circle. Part 4: When I broke down, and how I built myself back up.