Two years ago, we formed a group to dance Latin American Dance style in a team formation as a challenge with the Cockermouth U3A. We spent the summer of 2016 choreographing in our homes and we started the teaching in September with a group of twelve.
Each routine includes dance styles of Paso Doble, Samba, Rumba, Cha Cha, and Jive. A Formation dance, is a series of nonstop dancing figures set in different alignments running with music for 6 minutes 10 seconds… think back to “Come Dancing” The first routine took a year to learn and probably 6 further months to perfect. This was indeed a Dancing Feat! And it was incredibly rewarding to find something good and healthy to do with our retirement that benefits others.
Now Dancing Feat – dancing together – is our community outreach name for the Cockermouth- based dancing team that visit to entertain and encourage members of the community to engage in dance. We started to offer our “dance” to local organisations and two years on, resplendent in purple dancewear, visit and entertain in a variety of care centres and in social settings.
Here is one team member’s account of a recent visit to a care home
When we arrived, the residents were already waiting, some in wheelchairs, others with various physical or mental disabilities. They sat there, most seemed to be without the spark that makes life enjoyable. The formation team did their routine then Mike, the M.C., chatted with them and after that it was time for them to dance. One or two were willing participants. Then, with some persuasion, others joined in until the room was full of music and laughter. When the ladies ran out of dancing partners we ladies danced bust to bust (a la Joyce Grenfell). We flirted with ninety-year olds, sang songs they knew and waved scarves to the music. We sang “happy birthday” to Ron, and then to anyone who was due a birthday or had just had one! One old gentleman, who was in a wheelchair, had looked miserable the whole time and wouldn’t talk or join in. However, I popped a scarf on his hand in case he changed his mind. When we came to leave he’d folded it up and had hidden it in his hand, so it had meant something to him after all. The lady next to him, who was also in a wheelchair, couldn’t dance, but clapped in time to the music and then began doing the most graceful and expressive arm movements. She could only communicate in almost inaudible whispers, but the happiness in her face said everything. I was told it was the best day they had ever had and please, when could we come back!
The Dance group goes from strength to strength. We are currently learning our third routine! Each routine gets more demanding in terms of figures and complexity than the last, yet the group seem to learn them faster!! It is a challenge, but good for the brain, heart and soul.