What a day!
March 1, 2018

by Jessica Hobson

What a day!

Friday 23rd February saw the UK Launch of the Oxford Handbook of Dance and Wellbeing. Professor Vicky Karkou whom is lead investigator on the Dancing the Blues project was a co- author and editor of the book. The launch of the book was a day event at Edge Hill University and saw delegates from around the UK and we also had international visitors from Europe, USA and Canada. The day was a celebration of Arts for Health and Arts for Wellbeing.

The day began with introductions from the authors, editors and special guests including Darren Henley, the chief executive of Arts Council England. George Talbot, Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Pro-Vice Chancellor of Research at Edge Hill University and Professor Stephen Davismoon, Head of Department of Performing Arts at Edge Hill University and co-investigator on the Dancing the Blues project also presented at the event. At the start of the afternoon session, Professor Frank Pollick gave a presentation on the Neurophysiological perspectives of the creative arts. Rosie Kay, artistic director and choreographer, gave an artistic perspective on the use of creative arts.

Following these presentations the focus then turned to Mariam Mchitarian and Professor Joseph Moutriris whom switched the attention to the use of Dance Movement Psychotherapy in hospitals and the physiological impacts of this. For the afternoon sessions, chapter and video presentations allowing more of an insight into some of the chapters of the book were given by Carolyn Lappin (Executive Director of YDance, Scotland), Louise Douse (Lecturer in Dance, University of Bedfordshire), June Gersten Roberts (Senior Lecturer in Dance, Edge Hill University), Mark Edward (Reader in Dance and Performance, Edge Hill University) and Fiona Bannon (Senior Lecturer in Dance and Perfromance, University of Leeds).

For those who wanted a more practical afternoon, workshops were given by several practitioners in all areas of Dance and Wellbeing:

  • · Ubiquitous and reliable resources: an introduction to body & earth principles with Fabiano Culora (Lecturer in Performance and Bodywork Supervisor, The Northern School of Contemporary Dance) and Susanna Recchia (Dance Artist, Somatic Movement Educator and Researcher at the University of Roehampton in collaboration with Siobhan Davies)
  • · Listening to the moving body with Laura Steckler (Clinical and Somatic Psychologist, Body Psychotherapist, Somatic Movement Therapist in Private Practice
  • · Evidence-based biodanza for children with Marcus Stucj (Head of Interdisciplinary Research, University of Applied Science Saxony in Leipzing, Germany) and Alejandra Villegas (Co-Director of Biodanza School in Leipzig, Germany and Baltic School of Biodanza in Riga, Lativa
  • · Dance Movement Psychotherapy and Trauma with Claire Schaub-Moore (Dance Movement Psychotherapist, Professor of Psychology and Psychotherapist in Private Practice, Germany
  • · Laban-style Movement Choir with Cynthia Pratt (Professor of Dance, Butler University, USA

The penultimate event was a platform for new works to be presented and discussed. Ania Zubala (Research fellow, University of the Highlands and Islands) and Professor Vicky Karkow (Professor of Dance, Arts and Wellbeing, Edge Hill University) gave a presentation about their newly edited book by Routledge with contributions from leading arts therapists from around the world: The Arts Therapies in the treatment of Depression. Professor Stephen Davismoon (Professor of Contemporary Compositions and Head of Department of Performing Arts at Edge Hill University), Sadie Smith (Special Educational Needs Drama Specialist, Chatsworth High School and Community College, Salford) and Jennifer Starkey (Freelance Arts Consultant, Liverpool) gave an insight in to the In Search of the Phoenix project. This presentation told of the music theatre work devised in collaboration with Chatsworth High School and Community College, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and Edge Hill University. And finally, Professor Nisha Sajnani (Tenured Professor of Drama Therapy, New York University) and Professor Vicky Karkou presented on a new handbook proposal based on drama and wellbeing.

The final event of the day saw four performances:

  • · Getting out of your own way: created and performed by Scott Thurston, Julia Griffin, Stephen Davismoon and Vicky Karkou. This is the work in progress from the Dancing the Blues project and was the first performance for our creative team! The work explored four key concepts of dance movement psychotherapy with people with depressing: embodiment, relationality, movement metaphor and narrative. The piece developed out of improvisation between a dancer/choreographer, a poet and a musician.
  • · HYPOlowpo: This piece was created and performed by Kate Threlfall, a graduate from Edge Hill University and performed by fellow graduates and students from the University, Jane Savage, Louis Ellis and Rowena Foulds. The piece explored the personal side of living with Type 1 Diabetes and the emotions a patient and their family may experience.
  • · Stuck: performed by Julia Griffin, Stephen Davismoon and Helen Newall. The immersive performance explored the way in which time and memory are staged. The piece uses digital video technology, soundscape and live performance. Stuck is an autobiographical piece that shows the gradual decline of the artist’s mother from advancing dementia, observing the difficult process of her identity being stolen through memory loss.
  • · So Love…: The piece was choreographed by Mathieu Geffre and performed by 3rdEdge – the student dance company at Edge Hill University. The piece reflects a generation whom look for tomorrow’s adventures. Negotiating in between expectations and authenticity, this piece gathers a cast of young women building the path towards their empowered future.

The day was a huge success, with a variety of academics, artists, scientists and students all collaborating and sharing the experience. You can see some of the responses to the day on our website, but you can also head to The Arts for Wellbeing Facebook page, or you can find the twitter feed by following @Arts_4Wellbeing.