Creative Dance Residency
A story by Indepen-dance
Indepen-dance provided a 6 day creative dance residency for our Adult Performance Company who have learning disabilities.
It was hosted in the Zinc Arts Centre, Essex, the UK’s first fully accessible and residential arts centre complete with theatre space. Enabling their parents/carers to have a break.
What Creative Dance Residency did
Indepen-dance organised a creative dance residency for the dancers in our Adult Performance Company. The residency involved taking our dancers on a trip to Essex where we stayed in one of the UK's first fully accessible residential arts centres called the Zinc Arts Centre. We travelled from Glasgow to Essex by coach as this was the easiest option for our disabled dancers.
The creative dance residency involved daily dance classes (9.30 - 4) led by choreographer Jeanefer Jean Charles. The dance classes allowed our dancers to explore a new style of dance that being Lindy Hop, the dancers got the opportunity to explore the history of Lindy Hop as well as exploring the background to this dance style and the types of clothes/costumes the dancers would wear.
Our dancers stayed in the accommodation which was housed within the residential arts venue. The accommodation was specifically suited to disabled groups as each bedroom has an accessible toilet and shower facilities and some rooms have a hoist system built into the ceiling which was really great for our wheelchair users.
The Zinc Arts Centre provided breakfast lunch and dinner so there was really no need to leave the centre, it also has a TV room, games room and quiet room as well as a large communal area where you can organise activities for your group. It also has a full sized cinema screen and pull out seating bank.
We organised a variety of activities for our disabled dancers in the evening these included visits to the local pubs, a cinema night, a games night and a "Share a Talent" night. At the end of the week we shared the dances we had learnt during the week with an invited audience of local people who regularly use the Zinc Arts Centre and the staff from the Zinc Arts Centre.
The Creative Breaks funding was used for a specific group of Indepen-dance members, those being part of our Adult Performance Company. Each dancer was sent a letter inviting them to take part in the creative dance residency with full details of all the activities. We know that some of the carers of the disabled dancers had a short break themselves and others just really enjoyed the break from the role of carer.
Our Creative Residency gave Dancer C the opportunity to experience that independence, being away from home away from his parents and doing things that other young adults do who are of a similar age, like going away on a trip with your friends, going to the pub or enjoying a movie night.
On speaking to Dancer C's parents on return they expressed how they had also really enjoyed the break from the role of carer, having time to themselves to relax and enjoy just the everyday things in life. In this case both the parents and Dancer C had improved physical, mental and emotional well being.
Dancer J has an infectious love of dance and music and really enjoys coming to our weekly Adult Performance Company Classes. We have been providing creative dance residencies for a number of years but Dancer J is fairly new to our Adult Performance Company and up until now had never been away with the company before, so being part of our creative break was a first for Dancer J.
It was also a very rare event for his brother who has very limited support for activities similar to what the creative break offered. Dancer J had a brilliant experience on the creative dance residency and on return his brother's feedback was that he'd had a great break from the role of carer which enabled him to enjoy life outside of the regular caring role. This was a win win situation, it also gave Dancer J's brother the reassurance that his brother was well looked after and had a really quality break which was also valuable experience for him.
Dancer S lives with both his parents and his younger brother on return from the creative residency they did say they had missed Dancer S around the house but the break had given them the opportunity to enjoy other things outside of their caring role.
What Indepen-dance has learnedUp until now we had not been aware of this funding stream to support our creative dance residencies. Each year since Indepen-dance was established in 1996 we have taken a group of our disabled dancers away sometimes this has been to work in partnership with other inclusive dance companies or to be part of dance festivals and for performance opportunities.
Receiving funding from The Short Breaks Fund, Creative Breaks Programme enabled us to support the planned activity financially, it was a great source of funding completely suited to the needs of the group it benefited. Until then we hadn't really considered the benefits that we had offered carers and had focused more on the benefits to the disabled participants, we hadn't considered the additional benefits to the carers and the benefits they receive from the break from this role. It was really enlightening to get the feedback on what this means to them.
We didn't have any unexpected challenges but as previously mentioned it has been an great insight listening to the stories from the carers. It was during this that we discovered that there was a considerable amount of carers for our disabled dancers who hadn't had many similar opportunities to have this kind of support and activity in the past.