” to share with others the enjoyment of dance … to be healthy, creative, have fun, to make friends and to encourage neighbourliness and break down barriers. Our diversity is one of our greatest strengths. “Jackie 2011
Creative Dance 60+ was created in July 2010. I wanted to share my enthusiasm for creative dance with other older adults living in and around Tottenham, North London. CD60+ was a small grassroots not-for-profit organisation funded initially by the West Green Neighbourhood Office, Haringey, then a private bequest, followed by grants from the Community Development Foundation and the local Communities First Board. I managed and developed the organisation and appointed sessional dance-artist facilitators to lead sessions. The core activity was open dance sessions enabling participants to develop their dance capabilities and enjoy dancing together in creative ways.
Creative dance involves the whole person – body, intellect, emotions, relating to and dancing with others; active participation in the creative process whether dancing alone, in groups or performing to audiences. People from different backgrounds came together to share a common interest, so promoting confidence, social cohesion and new friendships.
Participants paid a small fee whenever they attended; no one was turned away for financial reasons. Attendance included regulars, as well as those who came when they could fit dancing in with their other responsibilities and interests, such as caring, part-time work, travelling and attending different events.
There was a welcoming approach that ensured participants respected and encouraged one another and many socialised together after sessions.
Over the first six years, dance-artist facilitators included Simona Scotto, Vicky Frayard, Molly Wright and Elizabeth Arifien. There were some guest workshops including TAVAZIVA Dance leading and in return we attended TAVAZIVA dance company performances. Our photographer was Jo Alexander.
The inclusive approach was conducive to working with older people who had knowledge and experience to share.
Dancers had opportunities to volunteer to perform in “No Dance! No Joy” which was launched in December 2012.
There were performances locally and beyond. Performances shared participants enthusiasm for dancing together. No Dance No Joy! promoted positive images and attitudes towards older people.
However, open sessions were always the main focus. Performance repertoire was created gradually within the sessions rather than having separate rehearsals. Whoever was available and wanted to perform knew what they were doing and the expectations of the performance!
There were celebrations at the end of each term, either bringing food and refreshments to share or going to a local restaurant and we had some outings as well.
The open sessions were especially for older adults who had not experienced creative contemporary dance before. It was important to promote sessions locally in ways that were appealing and encouraged local people to come along. Sessions were friendly, meaningful, expressive dance activities that encouraged creativity, better health, wellbeing, friendships, and enjoyment.
I evaluated the project, was responsible for the administration and reported back to funders. I also joined in the sessions and made sure all participants were at ease and enjoyed participating.
The organisation was not used as a case-study in my doctorial research because that was not the reason for setting CD60+ up; it had been set up before I was involved with my doctorate. However, it did inform my research and final report – “Active older people participating in creative dance – challenging perceptions.”
Here are some pics of us involved in various dance activities: a quick run through before performing and a brief explanation before dancing; Bawren Tavaziva and a colleague leading a dance session for us; a performance at Alexandra Palace and some happy dancers afterwards!; a session using length of material representing a river.
I willingly shared information about creating and managing grassroots dance organisations, promoting choices for active older people and positive images of them. All participants were aware of my research. I handed over the organisation to Molly Wright in 2016 when it was thriving. Molly continued to enthusiastically lead the sessions and performances and in 2018 Elizabeth Arifien took over and incorporated CD60+ into Creative Dance London.